Chapter 17: Building a Book-Friendly Home
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Set a good example
“Do as I say, not as I do.” If it were only true! Unfortunately, saying something to a child is simply not enough. Children learn by example. They watch their parents all the time and copy what they see. It’s how they learn everything about the world and their place in it.
By showing your child that reading is a fun and important part of everyday life – your everyday life as well as hers – you will be motivating her in a very natural way to value reading. Here are five good ways to build a book-friendly home and set a good example for your child:
- Start a subscription – In this day and age of digital media, there is still something charming about getting a magazine in the mail. Consider starting, or renewing, some magazine subscriptions that interest you. If your child sees you checking the mailbox and relishing the reading material that you find there, she will be intrigued. Then you can get her a subscription of her own. There are literally thousands of child-friendly magazines out there. You can even pick three or four that are age-appropriate and might interest your child, and then let her decide which one she wants. Be sure to build a little excitement by reminding her to check the mailbox every day.
- Turn off the TV – When we’re tired in the evening after a long day, it may seem as if we only have enough energy left to collapse onto the couch and veg out in front of the TV. But turning the television off and having a nightly “reading hour” is a really great way to set a good example for your child. After dinner, or just before bedtime, turn off the television and the computers. Have everyone turn off their phones, too. Set a timer, if that puts an end to the “How long do we have to do this?” routine. Then get out the books! Pick up that mystery novel you’ve been meaning to start, or that new beach romance. Then send the kids to their rooms to pick out some books of their own. Once everybody has made their choices, settle down on the couch and read away.
- Make reading available – Keep books and magazines all around the house. This sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But, if books are at hand, kids will read them. Keep books in the bathroom. Keep books by your child’s bed. Keep books in the car. Kids hate to be bored. If there are books handy and nothing else to do, kids will read.
- Get an e-reader – Books don’t have to be made out of paper to be available. In fact, books on e-readers and tablets may appeal to a tech-savvy generation even more than the old-style paper versions do. If you have an e-reader, let your child see you using it. Then, let her choose some books for her own virtual bookshelf. If money is a concern, many public libraries now allow patrons to “check out” virtual books for their devices. Some libraries even have e-readers available for loan.
- Build a book nook – Having a cozy place to read makes reading more appealing to everyone. And a Book Nook doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It’s easy to turn a quiet corner of your den or living room into a reading space. Start with a bookshelf, add a little reading lamp and then tuck in an over-stuffed chair or even a beanbag or two. When reading feels cozy and comfy, kids will be drawn to the process.
Kids’ magazines worth the read
Reading of almost any kind is good reading practice, as long as it’s age-appropriate. But, if you’ve decided to start a magazine subscription for your child, there are some really high-quality magazines out there that combine high-interest stories with great learning opportunities. Here are a few winners of the Spring 2015 Parents’ Choice Awards:
- Ladybug – This cute little magazine is for the earliest readers. Designed for children aged 3 to 6, it’s filled with fun stories, games and poems combined with eye-catching artwork.
- National Geographic Little Kids – This is the kids’ version of the well-known National Geographic magazine. Designed for the 3 to 6 year-old range, it includes nature trivia, learning games and stories about wild animals.
- American Girl – What’s charming about this magazine is that it lets little girls be little girls. It doesn’t push them into teenaged pursuits such as using makeup or dating. The magazine, designed for girls aged 8 to 12, has fun fiction stories, arts-and-crafts projects and recipes. It also addresses some of the serious issues that kids have to deal with today, like bullying at school.
- Cicada – This magazine is a high-quality literary magazine for kids aged 14 and up. It includes poetry, journaling prompts, short fiction stories and original artwork.
Parents’ Choice: Children’s Media and Toy Reviews, “Spring 2015 Parents’ Choice Award Winners: Magazine,” http://www.parents-choice.org/award.cfm?p_code=p_per&thePage=magazine
American Girl, http://www.americangirl.com/shop/magazine