The following is adapted from this New York Times guide entitled “How to Raise a Reader”.

Families are bombarded with messages about the importance of reading for their children. For good reason: - the benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development are well documented.

The following strategies are offered to you to help you support your son with reading:

Never treat books as a chore

Don’t say, “If you spend 30 minutes reading, you’ll get to play on the PlayStation/ go on the computer/ be paid a dollar.” Instead, treat reading as its own reward — a privilege, even.

Ask, “what are you reading?”

Make this question a big part of your life. When you’re with your child and a friend, ask what the friend reads, and start a conversation. Your child may want to read what friends are enthusiastic about.

Tip: Ask other parents what their children are reading, and offer to swap books.

Books belong everywhere

Even a devoted anti-clutter person should make an exception for books. Create impromptu reading opportunities for your child by leaving books in places where they may be picked up in an idle moment. Discovered on a coffee table, a great photography book or a book about lizards may occupy children for long stretches.

Make room for comics and manga

Don’t denigrate your child’s interest in this genre. Many of the most celebrated literary figures of our time not only grew up devouring comics, but also incorporate comics-inspired themes into their prize-winning novels: Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz and Jonathan Lethem, to name a few. Many children become avid readers through their love of comics. You may have even loved reading Archie, Smurfs or Superman before going on to read Gabriel García Márquez.

Make reading a group activity

Reading together — separately — is a wonderful way to spend time in each other’s company.

Try it: Instead of organising family leisure time around TV, movies or video games, schedule a regular family reading time. As your children begin to choose their own books and read independently, they may be less inclined to talk to you about what they’re reading. But if they are reading right next to you, you’ll hear them laugh, exclaim or give some other response, which gives you an opening to conversation.

A book about a computer game is still a book

Plenty of reluctant readers are fans of popular computer and video games. Many of these games have book counterparts, which can be a great way to steer your child toward the pleasures of text. There are lots of books featuring Minecraft, Pokémon, Plants vs. Zombies, and the like. From there, you can expand your child’s repertory to graphic novels and comics, and then full-text books.

Some reluctant readers are fact-gatherers, who may be more inspired by reading nonfiction. If it’s presented in a highly visual format, all the better for conveying even more kinds of information. Look for books about presidents, states, ancient history, the solar system, animals, natural disasters, and other topics they’re interested in.

Books to movies

A movie adaptation of a novel your child loves is a great way to re-engage with the book, opening a conversation about how a story can be told in different ways. Encourage your child to read the book before the movie adaptation hits the screen. Consider establishing a family rule: No one watches the film until everyone has read the book.

Let your child build a personal collection

Children love collecting. Make your child’s book collection a point of personal pride and identity. Every child should have a special bookcase. Plan for long-term storage for the best of this collection. When your children reach adulthood and discover that you still have the books that meant so much to them in childhood, they (and you!) will appreciate it.

Letters to a Young Reader
Artwork by Taeeun Yoo for A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader

Don’t let the steep price of books stand in your way

Make regular trips to the library (even better as a family) to keep a constant stream of new and intriguing books around the house.

Many local libraries no longer have limits on the number of books you can take out at one time. And keeping a constantly rotating menu of books on hand exposes children to a variety of subjects, formats and genres, piquing their curiosity.

Local libraries are indispensable resources

Let your children become members as soon as they are old enough. A child’s first library card is a rite of passage, often the very first official membership card in a young life.

Teach your children that library membership is a privilege and a responsibility. Most children really treasure their library cards, for good reason. It’s not just a ticket to great books, it’s a milestone.

Reading resources at Parade

We are fortunate to have many reading resources available through the College’s Learning Centres:

  • At the NLC and CCLC, students can borrow hard copy fiction and non-fiction books.
  • E-Books are available on MyOn, SORA, and Wheelers.
  • Audiobooks are available on BorrowBox and Wheelers.
  • E-Magazines are available on RB Digital.

To access the digital resources, students should locate the Learning Centres subheading under School Links on SIMON.

We encourage you to assist your son in establishing a regular and consistent reading routine at home.

Parade College

Article by Mr James Fogarty

Learning Area Leader—English