This is the third and final installment of our series Parents as Reading Role Models (Part 1 and Part 2, if you are catching up). Let’s talk openly and honestly about all of the distractions in our lives and how they often prevent us from modeling good reading behaviors for our kids. Whether you’re the parent or caregiver of a newborn or a teenager, it’s so easy to become distracted by dings, vibrations, and alerts. We are very guilty of this ourselves. Flip on CNN and you’ll see 4 scrolling bars at the bottom of the screen, as if our bodies were built to absorb a constant stream of stimuli. Newsflash? They’re not.
One of the most eye-opening facts in Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report was that 91% of kids ages 6-17 said that their favorite books are the ones they’ve picked out for themselves and 90% said that they are more likely to finish a book that they have selected.
Here’s what we make of this: we, as parents and caregivers (along with educators) need to do a better job helping our kids learn to pick out books independently, so that they, in turn, will read, enjoy, and finish more books. How do we do this? Just like any valuable life lesson, the approach with the longest-lasting impact is modeling what we do as real readers ourselves.
Would you send a young child out into the backyard with a baseball mitt and ball, and provide no explanation? Of course not. You’d show them how to put the mitt on, how to toss the ball, and you’d model throwing and catching.
Just like kids need to see you read, they also need to see how you decide what to read.
Easy Strategies for Modeling Book Selection to Your Kids
One of the greatest things parents can do to influence their children as they grow up is to model the very behaviors and values they hope to instill in their children. Reading is one of the best examples of this: every study shows that children who see their parents reading and writing are more likely to engage in those activities as well. So we’re kicking off a series of posts about how parents can be the best reading rode models for their children.
When my first born was ready for baby food, I had a mini meltdown. I felt like I had (finally!) figured out feeding him and now my pediatrician was telling me it was already time for solids. The doctor had one simple answer, “Just keep trying.” He said that if my son didn’t show interest in a certain food that I should continue placing it on his tray. Eventually, his tastes may change or he might grow used to the textures and flavors that come with experiencing new foods.
This works for developing a real love of reading in your children, too. But you know what usually doesn’t work? Shoving it down their throats. Forcing children to eat copious amounts of broccoli when they hate it will make them less likely to enjoy broccoli when they grow up, right?
Making your child read only books you select, during the time of day you select, with a timer set will also make them less likely to fall in love with reading.