Don’t Let Reading Take a Back Seat This Fall

There are three words that describe the fall: busy, busy BUSY!

The fall is really an unfair time for families.  School begins and fall sports are in full swing, music lessons get serious–Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are now on the horizon.

We all know that reading is vital to a students success.  Yet, many families have a difficult time finding in time to eat a meal together–much less find time for their kids to read at home.  How can a family establish a useful at-home reading program within all the craziness?

Here are a few simple steps any family can undertake to make reading a priority at home during the very busy school year.

1.  Put reading on the schedule.  If you want to get something done, you have to put it on the calendar like any other appointment.  At our house, we make the 30 minutes prior to bedtime reading time.  Kids are to have pajamas on, teeth brushed, homework done and nose in books at 8:15 PM.  Reading goes to 8:45 and lights out at 9:00.  Reading does not have to be at bedtime, find a window on your family’s schedule that works for you.

2.  Number two goes hand-in-hand with number one.  Establish a consistent evening routine at home.  Doing so will allow the kids to accomplish more and reduce stress at home.

3.  Find books kids want to read.  How can you do this?  Make time to visit either an online or bricks-and-mortar bookstore.  Don’t direct your children’s shopping experience at all.  Let them wander and encounter books that pique their interest.  You might be surprised at the books your kids find.  I’m not at football fan, but, my middle son loves books about football.  I would have never bought him a football book, but he’s made great strides with reading with books he’s interested in.

Even if your child is reading books that you believe are below his or her grade level, that’s OK.  At home reading should be primarily recreational.  What would you prefer, making a stink about what books your kid reads and creating resentment; or, creating an environment where your child develops a self-guided love for reading?

4.  Talk about what your kids are reading with them.  My eldest son loves the series The Beyonders.  This is a book series I would never read–I’m more of a non-fiction guy.  Nevertheless, I ask him about the books and get the entire plot explained to me.  Do I care about the plot? No.  But, I do care that my son knows his dad cares about what he’s reading.

5.  What are you reading?  If you are not a reader, it is unreasonable to expect your children to be consistent readers.  If you’re not reading a book, go get one that you’re interested in and conspicuously read it in front of your kids.  Once they see that reading is important to you, you’ll create a family reading culture that everyone can identify with.

There, five easy steps to creating a culture of reading at home.  The next question you might have it when should I start reading as a family?  How about today?  No matter what age your kids are, newborn or high school seniors, you can begin reading today.

Just because these steps are simple, they are not easy.  It can take some time and effort to establish new habits.  That’s OK.  Keep at it!  You will never regret creating a reading culture at home.