It is said that reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
The consequences of neglecting the latter are made well and truly clear, and swimming classes and Auskick teams around the country are fuller because of it.
But while the number of Aussie kids flocking to the soccer field has jumped in the last few years, has there been a similar flocking of young readers to your local library? Probably not.
The benefits of reading during childhood are immense, but because they are not as obviously linked as obesity is to a lack of exercise, reading may not play as an important part in households as it perhaps should.
To mention just a few of the advantages of reading:
- It improves attention span
- It boosts self esteem, as children who have the means to find the words they want to use to express themselves are likely to be more confident
- It helps to raise young adults who can better formulate their thoughts in times of stress or anger
- It has proven correlation to academic performance and…
- It lets children be children by allowing them to become lost in an imaginary world, encouraging creativity.
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Every child can be a reader – no matter how violently opposed to the idea they may be at the moment! – some just haven’t found their passion yet.
Here’s six ways to help them find it:
1. Start with an interest
It is what countless sports stars-turned-authors have already realised: kids are way more likely to pick up a book if it connects to a passion they already hold.
Your child plays cricket? Australian cricketer David Warner has the series for them.
Animals? Dancing? Painting? I dare you to find me an interest that isn’t catered for!
2. Start small
For a hesitant reader, a novel can look a little daunting.
So put down that Harry Potter because there are a number of short-form reading materials to make the introduction a much more comfortable one.
Educational magazines are ideal as they tell a short and punchy story often in no more than 700 words, plus come with the added benefit of varied content for varied interests in the one edition.
3. Reach for award winners
In my three years working at a bookshop in my late teens, I learnt one lesson above all others. Point out the first book in an award-winning children’s series to a parent and you’ll see them back in the shop for number two within the fortnight.
There is no luck involved in what makes a best seller – they really are just a cut above the rest.
Even the most unenthusiastic young readers know a good book when they read one and sometimes it can just take one well-written story to make a lifelong reader.
4. Associate it with something positive
I love sitting down in a comfy chair with a book and a chai latte.
If there is something that can provide a positive and non-distracting addition to a child’s reading time – make the most of it!
From a mug of Milo to Miley Cyrus music (softly played!), a positive association makes a habit much easier to form.
5. Make yourself an example
Monkey see, monkey do, so if you don’t have a reading habit, the little ones looking up to you won’t have much motivation to develop one either.
Let them see you with a book in your hand (and a chai latte by your side!) and display your own reading collection on a shelf instead of hiding books away in boxes to gather dust.
6. Discuss it
You know when you finish an amazing read and you just want to tell someone about it?
Be that sounding board for your children, ask questions, give praise for finishing a title and tell them about the book you’re reading too!
The more that you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!
- Dr Seuss -
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