How To Keep Pleasure Reading From Feeling Like Homework

Posted by on August 13, 2013.

I’m sure, if you’re a parent, you’re already starting to sing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” because school is almost back in session!

That means one thing, though: homework. Trust me, as a reasonably recent elementary and middle school student, when I say it’s hard to get kids to read on top of their homework. My parents always had trouble getting me to read “pleasure books” during the school year. My thinking was, why do I have to read another book in addition to the ones that have already been assigned to me? It sometimes felt like homework on top of homework. But it doesn’t have to. I’ve put together a few tips to help keep your kids reading for pleasure during the school year:

Don’t make reading a chore.
If you give the message to your children that they have read a book during the school year, that’s just going to make them want to do it even less. Let them figure out their workload, and if you see that it’s reasonably light a particular week, stop by the library or the bookstore next time you’re running errands. In all likelihood they will pick out something that piques their interest.

Find out what they really want to read or learn about.
When my mom started suggesting books to me, she gave me the classics. To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Little Women… And that’s what I was interested in reading! If you’re not 100% sure what your child wants to read, ask them! It’s as simple as that.

Giving them the freedom to choose a book will help you offer more suggestions in the future, and keep the pleasure-reading streak going. For example, if you see them pick out The Hunger Games, give them Divergent, another action-packed, post-apocalyptic thriller. If they pick out the kid classic Junie B. Jones, give them Amelia Bedelia. They’re both at the same reading level and are quirky and funny. Finding out what they enjoy will make pleasure reading a smoother process for everyone.

Give them different sources or media.
Your kids are living in a spectacular era in which everything is available everywhere on any device. This means, unfortunately, that good ol’ fashioned paperbacks might just not cut it. Your tech-savvy kids might be looking for a different way to approach their favorite stories. Downloading books from iTunes or Amazon onto your Kindle or iPad can make it fun for them while simultaneously making them feel more grown up.

Another solution would to be to let them listen to, say, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. You can download audible.com‘s app from Apple’s App Store and search through thousands of titles to find the perfect ones for your children. It gives them the freedom to find what they really want to read (or hear, in this case), and makes it feel like it’s not a chore.

I hope these tips will help you and your children find ways to start the good habit of pleasure reading. Watch out, it’s contagious!

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