How Do I Get My Child to Read?

Well first off, please to don't institute the hour of mandatory reading that so many schools and parents are so keen on these days. You want to encourage a life-long love of reading and frankly you would be much more likely to succeed by banning reading in your house then by turning reading into yet another chore that needs to be done.

Secondly, you want to make sure that your child doesn't have some learning disability that makes reading hard and uncomfortable. Even a child who makes good grades can have some undetected condition that makes reading difficult. Check with your child's teacher and/or have him tested if necessary. If there is a learning disability present, experts can help your child with strategies that will make reading easier and more enjoyable.

The best time to instill a love of reading in your child is before they can read. Read to them at bed time. Please don't play a bedtime video. If you are too busy to read to your child then you can play a book on tape. Just make sure that reading is part of a bedtime ritual that is comfortable and pleasant.

The number one way to instill a love of reading in your child is to be an avid reader yourself. When your little girl comes to you wanting to play Barbies, you can say "One moment sweetie, I want to finish this chapter". You will be showing her by example that reading is even more fun than Barbies! If you hate to read then have yourself tested for a disability. Again you will be demonstrating how important reading is. Also think about instituting a "quiet" time during the day when you read and must not be disturbed. It would be a perfect time for them to read as well. Talk about books while eating dinner.

You also need to make sure that there are plenty of books in the house. The library is great but you must also own books. They need to be available. Having no money is no excuse. There are plenty of used bookstores and flea markets with cheap books for sale. Libraries often sell books and sometimes even give them away. When I started an on-line used book store, I was immediately inundated with truckloads of books from friends who needed to clear out. Just let people know you want books and they will start to appear. Believe me! Make sure there is a wide variety of subjects and titles. You never know what will spark your child's interest.

Respect your books and encourage you children to respect them too. Get them a special book mark. Teach them to take care of their books.

Let's say you didn't read to your child as a baby and now he only reads when the school makes them and they hate it! Cancel the cable and get the electronic games out of the house. You may think it is a drastic move but it is necessary. (Don't link this change to reading in any way.) You can always bring the TV and electronics back once the habit of reading has been established. You must be willing to make sacrifices necessary to help your child be a success in life. Studies show that the kids who read are the ones who end up finding success. I cannot imagine my life without my books. It would be so drab.

Some children are so active that they have trouble sitting still long enough to read a book. If you have one of these children, ask yourself the following questions: Are you letting your child have a lot of sugar and caffeine? Do they get enough sleep? Be honest! These issues are all linked together and could be contributing to the problem. Again add reading to the bedtime ritual. If you don't have one, make one. Active children particularly need as transition to help them sleep. Start by reading to your child and then let you child read to them-selves. You can even read to an older child or take turns reading to each other.

Finally let your child pick the books. You can find books on subjects that interest them and give them as gifts. Or you can take the recommendations of the child editors of

The bottom line is that you must create an atmosphere that encourages reading without pushing it on your child.

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Jeanne Russell is a single mother, writer, and entrepreneur. She is founder of (a website devoted to self-improvement and success) and also

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