When our children are young, reading serves a fundamental purpose to teach the art of reading comprehension while also igniting the imagination. As our students reach high school, recreational reading encourages expanded vocabulary, individual opinions and out-of-the-box thinking and also fosters an environment for creativity. These skills are so important for our continuing learners and also a key component for preparing for ACT and SAT testing.
With so much required reading for school and limited free time, it can be hard enough to encourage our students to read for their classes, much less to inspire them to read for pleasure. But cultivating an avid reader can be done, and the academic and personal development benefits of consistent and regular reading will make a big difference not only for testing and placement exams, but also throughout their lives and into adulthood.
In fact, research has shown marked differences in reading and writing skills among students who read regularly versus those who don’t. Not to mention, reading for pleasure has been shown to have a huge impact on stress reduction and improved self-esteem. Who doesn’t want that?
So now that we all know and understand why reading is so beneficial for our students, how can we get them to actually pick up those books and get reading? Here are a few of our suggestions:
1. Grab a book yourself
If you’re not a reader yourself, pick up a good book and start reading. Our kids may not act like they watch and observe what you do, but they do and they are. Read in the common areas instead of turning the TV on. Let your students see you enjoy and relax with a good book – they may just join you!
2. Read together.
Sometimes leading by example may not be enough of an incentive to get your student to read on their own. That’s OK! Try reading with them or to them. Many of us read to our children when they are young. It’s a powerful bonding experience, and is also comforting to hear your parents voice. Reading to your high schooler can have similar benefits, and can also be a great way to spend time together amidst your otherwise hectic schedules.
3. Read the same books and spend time talking about them.
In the same vein as the previous point, try creating a family book club. Pick a book everyone will enjoy, set a timeline within which to finish reading the book, and then spend an evening or afternoon recapping what you liked or didn’t like about it. This will add accountability to your student and also give everyone some common ground to connect, discuss, and formulate unique opinions.
4. Try Audiobooks.
If you feel especially crunched for time, or if your child spends any time commuting to and from school or extracurricular activities, audiobooks can be a great way to incorporate more reading consumption. In fact, with the popularity of podcasts and other audio platforms, this could be a great way to encourage a different style of reading and learning that is trendy amongst the younger generations. Not to mention, audiobooks are generally cheaper to purchase, which can be a financial benefit too!
5. Don’t get particular about what they read.
At the end of the day, fostering consistent reading habits means that you have to enjoy what you’re reading! It’s OK if your student isn’t immediately interested in literary classics like Dickens or Shakespeare. Maybe that’s not where their interest lies, and that’s fine. Encourage them to pick up a book that keeps them turning the pages and then actively seek out others in a similar genre. No reading is bad reading!
If you have any other tips on how you’ve fostered good reading habits in your family, we’d love to hear about them!