Encouraging Childer

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Encouraging Childer

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May 11, 2011, 8:01am

I am a massive lover of books and am always trying to encourage my little cousins to read. I have a 13 year old who doesn't read because the school library doesn't have books that she likes, her 15 year old brother just thinks reading is boring and their 7 year old little brother recently lifted Mornings in Jenin which I had just finished, flicked through it and said it must be rubbish. I will let him away with that because at 7 he is still looking for pictures. What irritated me was that when I explained that so much happened in that book the notion that a book is more than just words, that it can take you somewhere was completely lost on his older siblings. What methods have others tried to encourage the youngsters around them to get into reading?

May 11, 2011, 8:17am

First of all, someone needs to read to them. A social activity which is fun helps to give them the notion that there is wealth to be found inside the covers.
I read chapter books to my grandchildren as frequently as I can.
I highly recommend Maniac Magee as a start. It is for all ages, and is a short and funny masterpiece of modern legend.

May 12, 2011, 10:16pm

I'm all about reading to children, I read to my 2 year old neice as much as possible. However, that just isn't going to go down well with a 13 year old I don't think.

May 12, 2011, 10:16pm

I'm all about reading to children, I read to my 2 year old neice as much as possible. However, that just isn't going to go down well with a 13 year old I don't think.

May 13, 2011, 4:53am

I agree with 2wonderY.

My 13yr old loved it when I read to her. She's 18 now and still begs me to read to her. But I read to her from the cradle (actually she listened in when I read to her older sibling) and I also read to her books she was really interested in or that spoke to situations that she was dealing with or would encounter soon.

To get your children interested you might want to start small - something like 'hey, there's a passage in this book that I think you would really like' - read it to them and see how receptive they are. Don't give up too quickly; it may take several attempts.

Reading out loud to the family makes for special times - we read the Harry Potter books as a family as everyone was interested and that eliminated the arguing as to who would get the book first!
Good luck!

May 14, 2011, 11:56am

In addition to the great suggestions already mentioned, never underestimate the message you send to the children in your life by simply enjoying books yourself. My sons have both told me that one of the reasons they value books so much is because I do, they see how much I love to read and how enthusiastically I talk about what I read and it made an impression on them that ended up being as effective as reading to them as young children (they are 17 and 16 now). Sometimes, the more you try to push something on them, especially teenagers, the more they resist. Just being an example of how richly reading can affect your life and mind can be a really effective tool.

May 14, 2011, 2:31pm

No, I don't try to push it. I have always loved to read and believe it's not something that can be forced or faked. It's just intriguing to me how these children can be so dead set against reading.

Edited: May 15, 2011, 7:46pm

My sister was reading to herself when she was very small, but when she went to kindergarten and first grade she was informed that a) young children like her couldn't read and b) Dick and Jane were what the school meant by 'reading'. She decided that obviously she couldn't read, because this stuff was really dumb and boring. I, 2 years older, kept handing her books that I loved, and finally convinced her that there was good reading to be had - but it took several years during which she got horrible reading grades.

If your cousins got the same sort of thing without the several years of help, they may be (not consciously, but much deeper) convinced that reading isn't interesting. The only solution I know is pretty much what you're doing - find books you love, or that speak to their interests, and keep offering them.

For the one who says the school library doesn't have books she likes - what does she like? What subjects interest her? Same for her brother - is he into sports, computers, video games, what? There are books that cover their interests, whatever they may be. For the younger one, you might try graphic novels of the Classics Illustrated sort - pictures going along with a real story. Or magazines - Cricket and Highlights sort of thing, with stories mixed in with, and being part of, puzzles and activities.

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