Those “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy days of Summer” are almost upon us. Picture yourself lazily lying in a hammock with lemonade and a good book. Or is reading becoming a lost Art? And what about the kids? Should you encourage your kids to read? Does reading build relationships?
Reading is a wonderful way to relax and cool down after lots of high activity. It’s also the gateway to knowledge, mystery, information, and influence. The key to wealth and a bright future.
That’s what my folks told me growing up. If you look at statistics today CEOs and The Wealthy read more than the average person so that may tell us something. But putting money aside, why read?
Reading is a pass time that “works”.
We’ve all done it – carried a book, a kindle or a magazine on a trip to the doctor’s office or waiting for a plane or train. And the beauty of it, it does not require an internet connection.
Reading works when you are alone, strapped for cash, waiting around for someone or something. Reading enhances life and expands your perspective.
Tired of screens? TV, YouTube, or the incessant jabbering of other people who seem to have nothing better to do than to chatter away, reading is the Great Escape. Reading is FUN!
In the age of YouTube and other Social Media you might think that reading is going out of style.
It is, and it isn’t. In America our reading lags behind most other countries.
On average Americans read just 5:42 hours per week, while the average reading hours spent in India is 10:42.
For many people today and certainly our kids, reading may feel like a necessary evil. You “have to” read to do your homework. When finally done why not pop out your phone and immerse in Battle of Polytopia or Madden NFL Football? Oh, Yeah!
Addicted to our phones there are any number of mind-numbing games we play to pass the time. I’m not saying that all games are mind-numbing. Many of them increase eye hand coordination and thinking skills but many don’t. I am old school and I love to play Solitaire on my phone. I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve lost trying to beat my speed to press Auto Complete. Bleary eyed I finally notice the digital display on my phone. How did it get to be 12:30 am?
But get this, reading smashes through “mind-numbing”.
Neuroscientists today tell us that reading a novel enhances brain connectivity and improves brain function. Isn’t that what we all want?
And one more piece of info…Influencers, CEO’s of major companies, read on average 4 – 5 books per month. All genres. Not just business books.
Think about it, it really makes sense to encourage our kids and grandkids to read more. Convinced? Great. Then back to the original question, how do you get your kids to read?
- After School and After Summer Activities: Set aside 20 minutes every afternoon for reading. Put the kids in charge of the timing. Have them set the timer on the stove. Every kid loves to press buttons and make things make noise. We’ve done this with our kids and grans since they were in pre-school. Now, when we announce it’s time to read there is a mad dash to the kitchen to see who gets to punch the buttons.
- Bedtime reading: The rule is, 30 minutes before bedtime all electronics go dark. Once everyone’s faces are washed, teeth brushed and jammies on, the last 30 minutes we pile into bed and the books come out. Read to them or let everyone read their own until lights out.
- Tell stories instead of reading from the book: Tell the story you loved most as a child from memory. If you don’t feel very skilled in doing that, tell a story of what happened that day…it’s easy – every story has a beginning, a middle and an end with something unexpected or a challenge that needed to be overcome. You have a zillion of them! And your kids love to hear about your life. They will begin to tell their story of “what happened today”. It’s a habit that can continue into the teen years when finding out what’s really going on with your kids can get harder to do.
- Play word games with sound at bedtime instead of reading: My husband started this game with our grandkids when they were 3 and 5. They still love to play it at 8 and 12. It’s called the “Mmm Game”. Everyone is snuggled under the covers, and the Game begins. He introduced the game by playing with favorite foods. Here’s how it works: The first person starts by saying, “Mmmmm, I’m a (name of a food they like)”. The next person follows with “Mmmm, I’m a _______,” and on and on. Here’s an example:
- “Mmmm, I’m a Ham Sandwich”.
- “Mmmmm, I’m the Bread.”
- “Mmmmm, I’m the Tomato.” “Mmmm I’m the lettuce.”
Throw lots of emotion into it and stretch out those “Mmmms”. They Love It! It gets silly. It’s amazing what you learn about your kids. As the kids got older and could spell, we set up rules like you have to name a food that starts with the letter the last food ended with. That got a bit tricky in the beginning, but it stretched them. Now when we are riding in the car to and from school, it is not unusual for someone to suggest we play the “Mmmm Game”.
- Read to your kids even when they are old enough to read alone: They are old enough or think they are past the age for a bedtime story…Just like in the classic movie Princess Bride where the Grandfather reads to his sick grandson there is something wonderful that happens when you read to an older child. It strengthens bonds between generations and gives that young person a chance to secretly enjoy the safety of childhood. Just choose a book that engages their imagination at their current age.
- Let them See you Reading: You read and let them see you reading. Kids learn through doing and observation. When they see you read daily they will get the reading is just “something that you do”.
- Write love notes: Write notes to them that go into their lunch boxes and camping gear. Write thoughts for the day or words for the day on their lunch bags. A special note from Mom or Dad means a lot! They get to read it to their friends during lunchtime. Never underestimate the power of your love through words.
Stay tuned for our next blog spot on the Power of Words in Shaping Young Lives and and what a simple Thought for the Day on a lunch bag did for my granddaughter. Click to learn about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library’s Summer Break reading program. And if you are interested in learning more about which countries read the most and where your country falls in the line-up, go to www.irisreading.com or click here.