What Does Pooping Have to do with Encouraging Your Child to Read?


I was one of those nerdy kids who always had her head in a book.  I LOVED to read.  I devoured all kinds books – from “Ramona the Pest” to, even, MATH books.

Lots of children are like me.  They’ll lose themselves in a book (or, these days, a tablet) for hours.  But what if your son or daughter would prefer eating a pile of liver with a side of spinach to picking up a book?  Not reading, even at a young age, puts children at a huge disadvantage.

A United Kingdom study of 17,000 people found that those who read as children showed greater intellectual progress by age 16 in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics.  (It’s never too early to get a jump on that Common Core Math.)

Visiting the library regularly and reading to your children at bedtime are givens.

What else can you do?

1. Put books in the bathroom.  Keep reading material handy, right next to the toilet.  When your daughter is waiting for nature to call, she’ll pick up that book she ignored earlier.

2. Take your kids to the movies.  Many children’s movies are based or books  or are turned into books after the fact.  It doesn’t matter which you introduce first – the screen or the page – as long as you have your children experience both.  You can have a great talk comparing how the story was told each time.

3. Take them to the store.  Have them tell you the first few ingredients in that box of cereal.  Let them sound out words on the meat packages.  Ask them to lead you to the “Bread” or “Pasta” aisle by reading the signs.   While you’re waiting in line, have them read you the headlines of “Family Circle” or “Good Housekeeping.”  (And avert their eyes from magz  with the Kim Kardashian cover).

4. Barter with them.  I have a friend who doled out television time in reading increments: her son could watch TV for 15 minutes only if he read for 15 minutes first.  The more he read, the more television he could watch — up to a limit, of course.

5. Pay them.  I know, I know.  We want our precious ones to read for the joy of it. But offering a financial reward for reading signals to them that you believe it’s valuable.  Deciding on the – let’s face it – bribe is up to you.  And it depends on her age.  A quarter per picture book? A dollar per chapter book?

6. Let them catch you reading.  Your actions have a much greater impact on your children than your words.  If your son sees you reading – or better yet, sees that you belong to a book club – they’re much more likely to want to read.  When he cracks a book, snuggle up to him with one of your own.

What are some of the ways you’ve encouraged your son or daughter to read?


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