Chapter 40: Give the Gift of Reading

Go ahead and gild that lily!

(Click for the Complete Online Parent Reading Guide)

Does your child view reading as a chore? Or simply as another boring homework assignment? If so, then it’s time to practice a little subterfuge! For most kids, anything wrapped up in wrapping paper is pretty darned cool. Let your child see books as gifts and goodies, and suddenly they’ll seem much more fun and interesting.

Below are a few ways to help your child see books as the treasures they really are:

  • Give books as gifts – Whenever there’s a gift-giving occasion that involves your child, think “book” before you think of anything else. There are literally thousands of wonderful and entertaining children’s books out there at every reading level and in every imaginable genre. You’ll have plenty to choose from. When it’s time to find a gift for your little reader, pick up one or two – or even more! Then wrap them up in bright paper and bows, and they will seem truly special.
  • Use books as rewards – Little rewards are a great way to motivate kids. It lets them know when they’ve done something particularly well, and encourages them to do it again. Why not kill two birds with one stone and use books as rewards? It’s a real win-win: Using rewards helps ensure that you see more positive behavior from your child; giving books gets him reading. You can give a book reward for almost any reason: when your child has done really well on a test at school, if he took out the trash every night for a week, or even if he made a spectacular slam dunk at his intramural basketball game. Almost any excuse will do. You might even want to bring this up with your child’s teacher. Many teachers keep a grab-bag of little treasures to reward their students for good behavior. You could suggest that the teacher add some books to her bag, as well.
  • Substitute books for greenbacks – From time to time, most parents pay their kids for extra chores around the house. If you’re going to hire your child to mow the lawn or to sit with his younger brother, why not offer books instead of cash? Decide ahead of time just how many books a given chore is worth, then sit back and watch your child earn the books you actually wanted him to have in his hands all along.
  • Enlist the help of friends and family – Let everyone know that you’re trying to put a positive spin on reading for your child, and ask them to help out. Keep a list handy of the books you think your child would be interested in. If friends or relatives ask what your child would like for Christmas or his birthday, you’ll have book titles ready to suggest. Even if your child suspects you’re trying to sneak in books disguised as presents, maybe he won’t suspect Granny or his best friend from school.
  • Don’t forget gift cards – A small gift card to a local bookstore, or even an online book seller, makes a great reward, as well. Gift cards combine the positive effects of presenting books as something special with the fun of taking your child to the bookstore and letting him pick out the books that interest him all on his own.