Chapter 31: Enthusiasm Is Contagious
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Harness the power of her peers
You may have noticed that kids are often highly motivated by what their friends are doing. If your child’s friends are all listening to Taylor Swift, then you probably hear her singing “Shake it Off” all throughout the day. If those friends all get their clothes from Forever 21, then that’s where she will want to shop, too.
Why not harness some of that vast store of kid-centric energy? Here are some ways you can use a little positive peer pressure to encourage your child to read:
- Sign her up for a reading adventure – Check your local library to see if it offers reading programs. Schools with after-school programs may have them, too. Reading programs are usually centered around a theme – such as jungle animals or space travel – and are promoted as exciting adventures. They’re usually really fun – less like school and more like summer camp – combining reading with contests, art projects, costumes and even movies. And the big plus to programs like these is that lots of kids sign up for them. Your child will be surrounded by other kids who are all stoked about books and reading.
- Start a “reading buddies” club – This can be as informal as inviting some of your child’s friends over for a read-a-thon and some pizza or as formal as an official club at their school. However you arrange it, keep the focus on reading. Make sure that everyone who attends brings a book and spends at least some of the time reading it rather than just talking or horsing around. Keep the club meetings short and sweet – about 30 minutes will probably be plenty long. You can keep the meetings interesting by having a set schedule. There could be a time for getting settled down, a snack break, and even a time for each child to summarize the book he or she is reading or to tell the others about a new and interesting series or author.
- Host a book exchange – If your child has already read all the books you have for her around the house and is getting a little bored by them, why not have a book exchange? You could invite her friends – or classmates or neighborhood kids – to your house and have them all bring a few books they want to trade. You could even have it in the front yard or at a park, weather permitting. Throw in a few cookies and some punch for a real party atmosphere. You can just let everyone trade books, if you like. Or you can add a bit of organization by letting the kids take turns choosing new books or by limiting new book selections to the number of books each child brings. A child who brings two books, for example, gets to take two new ones home. A book exchange is a real win-win. It not only gives your child a new and interesting selection of books from which to choose but also plays the peer pressure card. She will see that lots of kids her own age are really into books!
- Have a book-themed party – Birthdays or other seasonal events are a great time to throw a book-themed party. Kids can come in costume, dressed as their favorite book character, and the decor and party favors can all be about books. If it’s a gift-giving occasion, then the gifts can be books, too!
- Involve big brother or big sister – Have older siblings talk to your child about the books and magazines that they can’t put down and the fun stuff they like to read on the Internet. Learning that older kids love reading for a variety of really interesting reasons can be a real eye opener for a little one. Suddenly, reading will seem pretty darned cool, not just like something that mom and dad are nagging her to do.
Remember, you were a kid once, too!
Did you love the Harry Potter books while you were growing up? Did you read every Wimpy Kid installment in the series? Then, by all means, share that with your child. While the special connection that kids feel with their peers is a reality, the fact remains that most kids still model much of their behavior on their parents and other significant adults in their lives.
Talk to your child about how much you loved to read when you were growing up. Tell her about the kinds of things you read. Did you enjoy comics? Or mysteries? Baseball cards? You might be surprised to see how much interest the knowledge of her “reading heritage” will inspire in your child.