Winter break is exciting for kids, but that doesn’t mean we can put down all reading for two weeks and binge on new video games. It’s important to keep reading but how can you encourage your kids to read without sucking all the fun out of it? Here are my tips for getting your kids to read over the winter break.
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1. Go the library before school gets out. Getting my kids to the library is easy on weeknights but it’s like their brain shifts on weekends and holidays, and the library goes from awesome to a drag overnight. Go before school gets out, and their brain makes that switch, so you have a bunch of new books on hand.
2. Don’t go for the hard sell. I am an enthusiastic person, and when I get an idea in my head, there is no stopping me. And that backfires when you have equally stubborn kids who see this enthusiasm as manipulation. Which it is sometimes. Yeah, don’t do that. Is that book really the BEST ever? Really? Instead of going hard with the sell, appeal to their curiosity. ” I heard this book is hilarious and has some pretty big plot twists! Want to find out what happens?” Sometimes our best intentions discourage our kids from reading.
3. Don’t be a nag. At least don’t nag too much. I have to tame my natural desire to nag my kids a lot. When we nag — even if we are nagging about something fun — we suck the fun out of it. Don’t suck the fun out of reading by continually asking your children if they have read yet today.
4. Make screen time rules that work for your family. Maybe that means you don’t have any limits because your kids aren’t that into screens ( there are kids like that right?) but even on holidays make sure their screen time doesn’t explode. Not only will it be harder to bring it back to normal levels come January, but it will be much harder to execute the next rule.
5. Make time to be bored. Think about why you read in the summer at the beach or at the dentist’s office. Because there is nothing else to do. I love reading, but life gets busy and sometimes I need it to slow way down before I remember to cozy up with a book. Why do we expect any different from our kids? Start planning do-nothing-days and let their boredom push them to the bookcase.
6. Give a book series for holiday gifts. I say a series because once your child is hooked, the reading will come fast and furious. Need some series ideas? Check out this post.
7. Pack books for travel. Whether you pack a bunch of heavy books or fill up your eReader, have them ready, and they will get read. If you are traveling my car, try audio books. Your local library should have a good selection available. A great place for you to get ebooks is Epic!, which is a subscription service kinda like Netflix for ebooks.
8. Let your kids catch you reading for fun. You can’t nag your kids about reading being good for them if you don’t take your own advice. Oh wait, we aren’t supposed to be nagging. Seriously, though, children who see their parents reading for pleasure are much more likely to read for pleasure themselves. This matters, reading, like any skill, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Show your kids that reading IS fun and don’t worry you don’t have to read Dostoyevsky, it can be People Magazine. Show them reading is part of your me time.
9. Bribe if you have to. Like all parents, I want my kids to be intrinsically motivated to read, to clean the bathroom, to eat their green beans and do their homework. The reality is, they are kids and impulse control, decision making, and basically their whole brain is still developing. They need me to provide some extrinsic motivation from time to time. Reading is not negotiable and while I would try to find the most appealing material first, use seeing the movie version of the book as a reward, and even let them read books I am not fond of before bribing who am I to judge a parent who is backed into this corner. You can be the judge of what works for your family, just keep them reading and do your best to make it fun!
What are your foolproof or even just pretty good tips for getting your kids reading during school breaks?