I think there are countless articles over the internet which will tell you about numerous ways that you can get kids excited about book reading; kids who would rather do chores than go within two meter radius of a book. So, I’m not going to repeat the same things over and over but in different words. I do have a list of 10 ways at the end of the article if you’re want to know what I think works best.
What I’m going to do is share my own personal experience with a kid or more accurately: my godson. What happened was that my best friend and her husband had to go on a romantic trip alone- her mother is getting up in age and he has no family in the States. So, naturally as the godmother, I was given the responsibility of looking after their five year old, a boy.
He was attached to me and we’ve spent a lot of time together but he hadn’t been separated from his parents in the past for more than maybe 1 overnight and this would be almost a week. So, needless to say, some challenges presented itself. Days went fine as I kept him busy with games, toys, Curious George on continuous loop (Thanks Netflix) and outings/activities.
But when night came, it was a different story altogether. He would start crying and no matter what I did, it just wouldn’t stop. I tolerated it for a couple of nights, but I couldn’t see much more of this. One night, I asked him if he wanted to listen to a story. What kid doesn’t love a story?
So, he was excited but I hadn’t thought it through properly. You see, I’m not much of a storyteller and I couldn’t make stories off my mind. So, I downloaded children books on my mobile and read him the stories and he would really listen to them.
In fact, he would ask question about different characters on and on and on for days! Seeing his interest, I got him books with large pictures and very limited text so we could read it together, like he’s telling me the story. I would still read him stories at night but he would read on her own too. This way, his time away from his parents passed with a lot less drama.
When he was leaving my home, I feared that he would lose interest in books (as TV is way cooler) especially since I wouldn’t be there daily with him. So, I got him a giant story book filled with a lot of different short stories (from half price books, my favorite book store in my city) and whenever I saw him, I would ask him to tell me a story that he’d read in the book.
He would get really excited and I would play along with him even if I knew the story beforehand so as not to spoil the fun. I also got him dozens of Curious George books. When I went to his house, I would watch the show with him and we could read his other adventures in book form.
He really enjoyed that. It also gave us a chance to make-up stories of out own, mini-adventures with me, him, his parents, Curious George, his friends, everyone. That is very rewarding for me. Judging from my own experience, I would say that you can’t just get kids excited about books overnight. You have to really work for it constantly.
As you can see, it can take a while for kids to love book on a level that they can’t live without reading books, but it starts at a fundamental level- start early! Now, he asks his mom for books instead of toys, sometimes… and he now has his own library card with his name on it. He is so proud of that card.
He even has a Curious George Wallet to keep it in. I love going to the library with him. It is a special treat. So, be patient in your efforts to get your kids to read books. Even if the books are comics, it’s a really good start and a place to built on.
For a few tips:
- Introduce early and often. Make it fun. Keep it fun. Young children lose interest in toys often throughout the day so don’t fret, they will come back to books many times.
- Get books from their favorite TV characters. That will keep them interested in their adventures.
- Improve your art of story-telling. Try voices, inflection and body language.
- Get books about them. Many companies sell personalized books ⇓⇓. Who doesn’t want to read about themselves?
- Let them write (or make-up and you write) their own story and fashion it as a book. Type it, print it, put pictures in it or coloring pages, laminate it and trust, they will share that book and story with everyone!
- Let them read about what they like. Don’t dictate their interest. If they like to read about frogs or fairies or like my son, he loved graphic novels. It got him reading with no fuss, he read series upon series, he would willingly go to the library, I would ask him to tell me stories about the novels and we talked for long periods of time just by taking an interest in him- I could of cared less about the characters, but many were interesting and had a message- a hero message.
- As children get older and tv/internet becomes more attractive, continue to encourage reading without nagging. Don’t make reading for pleasure a chore and connect with them on stuff they like.
- I am not above bribery so most libraries have a reading contest, or sponsor one of your own in your home for the summer or for the year- give away prizes; monetary, fun activities or even embarrassing tasks for mom and dad or a week without chores. Get creative!
- Encourage any creative artistic endeavor and learning projects whether its music, sports or art. Most of the time, that will lend itself to reading.
- You must also read! They watch you way more than they listen so if they never see you read, why would they believe reading in both fun and important!
Here are a couple of my favorite companies that have the cutest, most precious personalized books on the market.