Chapter 38: Make It a Family Affair

Come one, come all!

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When a child is having a hard time learning to read, he may feel singled out. If he’s the only one in the family who has to practice reading every night, the process can start to loom large in his mind. It may seem like a dismal chore that he alone has to face. Reverse that thinking, and you may see your child looking at reading in a whole new light. How? By making reading an activity that everyone in the family needs to participate in – like getting outside for some sun and exercise, or brushing their teeth at bedtime. Let it be known that in your family, reading is good for everyone.

Need some family-friendly activities that will include – and inspire! – everyone? Read on!

  • Visit the library – regularly! – Make taking a trip to the library a fun, family adventure. When someone says, “What should we do today?” Answer, “Hey! Let’s go to the library.” If you haven’t been there before, make sure that everyone signs up for a library card, Mom and Dad included. Your struggling reader will be proud to be participating in something that everyone else in the family seems eager to do. Then, tell everyone to spread out and look for books. Meet back at the check-out desk and share your finds. To make the most of the moment, be sure that all the other family members are on board with the project. One sulky, teenaged brother saying, “What a drag!” will quickly undo all the benefits of the trip.
  • Head to the bookstore – If it fits into your budget, make visiting the bookstore another fun family outing. Are you going to the park? Thinking of taking in dinner and a show? Add the bookstore to your “fun day” list. Set the stage by talking it up a little. On the way over, say things like, “Boy, I can’t wait to see if they have Elizabeth Sims’ next Rita Farmer mystery,” or, “I wonder if I can find a great new cookbook?” Once there, make sure, just as you did at the library, that everyone participates with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm truly is contagious, and with any luck, your child will catch a serious case of book fever.
  • Play word games – Everyone knows that family game nights are a great way to have some old-fashioned fun while bonding with your kids. When the family is trying to decide which game to play, make sure there’s a healthy mix of word games to choose from. Some of them might quickly become family favorites, but, if the kids make other choices, you can always pull out one of the word games when it’s your turn to pick.
  • Talk about books! – Make books the topic of conversation as often as you can. At the dinner table ask, “What is everybody reading?” In the carpool after school say, “I’m reading the most interesting book. Let me tell you about it.” Let the kids hear you talking with the other adults in the family about books, too. Even if you’re not talking directly to them, they will hear the enthusiasm in your voice and come to think of books and reading as cool, grown-up things to do.
  • Plan a reading “staycation” – Have some days off from work coming up? Why not plan a little family staycation? A staycation is an easy-on-the-budget, mini vacation that you take without leaving town. Combine all of the activities above into a real, blow-out book celebration. Go to the library, swing by the bookstore, then pick up some pizza, come home and get out the games. You might also want to consider banning smart phones, computers and tablets for the day – unless, of course, they’re being used to read!