|Tips#1: Read Together Every Day|
|Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close together. Bedtime is an especially great time for reading together.|
|Tips#2: Give Everything A Name|
|You can build comprehension skills early, even with the littlest child. Play games that involve naming or pointing to objects. Say things like, "Where's your nose?" and then, "Where's Mommy's nose?" Or touch your child's nose and say, "What's this?"|
I recently picked up my thirteen year old from track practice. The familiar gleam in his eye revealed he had something witty to say.
“Okay Brian, what's up?” I asked.
“Hi Dad, Mom took us to a really scary place.” He answered with a big smile.
“Oh really?” I replied. “Where was that?”
“An evil building called the library! There were books everywhere. I'm still feeling the trauma.”
“Don't you think you are exaggerating just a little?” I queried. “I thought you liked books. You used to check out encyclopedias from the school library.”
“Dad,” he said in the voice he has used for years whenever he feels the need to teach me about the 'real' world. “Reading is so un-cool. Besides, why read when there are so many fun things to do like skateboard, play sports and mess around with my I-Touch?”
Trying to find common ground, I asked, “Don't you like to read about those things? I bet there are great books on skateboarding.”
“I read a little about it – but only on the internet. It's better if there's videos like on Youtube.”
“Videos are watched, not read.” I answered.
“Whatever,” Brian answered. He looked out the window and turned on his I-pod.
|Tips#3: Say How Much You Enjoy Reading Together|
|Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Look forward to this time you spend together. Talk about "story time" as the favorite part of your day.|
|Tips#4: Be Interactive|
|Engage your child so he or she will actively listen to a story. Discuss what's happening, point out things on the page, and answer your child's questions. Ask questions of your own and listen to your child's responses.|
I have sadly considered that a day will come when Brian or another of my sons will pick up their last book – perhaps after high school or college. For a life-long reader such as myself, these thoughts fill me with dread. Some of my boys (I have six) are avid readers. Books of all kinds were a huge part of the formative years for each of them, and they were read to well into their teen years. I cannot understand why some would discard this fundamental component of their lives.
There is so much they will miss, and so much they will not be able to pass on to their own children. You cannot give what you do not (or will not) possess yourself.
I cannot even imagine a world or even a house without books, and so I am compelled to keep trying to encourage my son to repent of his literary teetotalism. I will keep giving him books that resonate with his interests. Somewhere down the line perhaps one of them will click and he will rediscover the magic he once felt as a child when books were a huge part of his life.
There is hope. My twenty year old said pretty much the same thing about reading when he was fifteen. Darin is a musician, and for the last few years I have spoon fed him books about his chosen profession. He hasn't said much until this Christmas. When he opened the book I gave him, he said he wanted to get back into reading, and my heart jumped for joy.
I am hoping this 'reading is un-cool' phase is exactly that – a phase that quickly fades away with a little maturity. I would love to visit a library with Brian in a few years and have him say, even with that gleam in his eye, “You know, Dad, libraries are very friendly places.”
|Tips#5: Read It Again And Again And Again|
|Your child will probably want to hear a favorite story over and over. Go ahead and read the same book for the 100th time! Research suggests that repeated readings help children develop language skills.|
|Tips#6: Talk About Writing, Too|
|Draw your child's attention to the way writing works. When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.|