The blog

Make reading interesting

on April 5, 2014

Although reading every night can seem daunting, there are parents who do read to their child every night. The important thing is to spend time talking with each other. As a parent, it is hard to talk at any great length about many of the stories we read to very young children. In my study, parents averaged 15 minutes to a reading session– and that’s in the best case scenario. How can we extend the “interesting discussion” time? One method is to be choosy about what you read. Not all reading material is created equal. Although experts encourage you to follow a kids interest, there’s got to be a balance with what the parent finds interesting. This brings up the rationale that whatever you read together should be interesting to you as a pair. The reading subject matter doesn’t have to cater to either interest all the time.

After a few days of the same story, it can help to introduce a new book, magazine article or even instruction manual. Pick material you are especially interested in (e.g. a short article from the New York Times or even Science Fiction). Although the kid may fuss if they don’t get their way, you can make a “deal” that you read some of it to see if its interesting so you can talk about it. You may not even have to start at the beginning, and you might even choose to skip the boring parts (as recommended by The Princess Bride) This gives children a window into what ideas adults find interesting, and helps prepare them for adult conversations. Anything is valid– like sports, news, novels, dramas that you are reading. If you mix it up, kids might end up learning new ideas, new vocabulary, and picking up on turns of phrase that usually don’t get represented in children’s books. Its interesting to realize that a lot writing in the English language is metaphorical and idiomatic! E.g. “his face fell when he heard the news” or “it fell on deaf ears”– and reading them with a young child often makes an interesting discussion. A child who learns to master these phrases can sound quite impressive.

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