Micki Freeny, coordinator of children and youth services at the Washington D.C. Public Library, answered questions for the Washington Post about what will get kids to read this summer.
First of all, Freeny said, don’t force kids to read. Also: have a variety of reading materials around your home; have graphic novels and magazines; and—most obviously—you (parents) have to read, and model this behavior!
She also had a few suggestions I didn’t find obvious. The most interesting was playing audio books in the car. Freeny said:
They use some of the same brain functions as regular books. They give kids a sense of narrative just like reading a book. … They can also actually lead a kid into an actual book.
Kids can be spurred into read a book because they get impatient. A friend said they were listening to a Harry Potter book in the car and they go to a very poignant part of the story when they arrived at their destination. The teenager just picked up the book and kept on reading.
Freeny also mentioned the old stand-by: forbidding books.
A long time ago there was a TV show called “Eight is Enough” that was taken from a book…. The author said that he used to take books he wanted his kids to read and put them on the highest shelf and tell them they were forbidden from reading them. Of course, the kids wanted nothing more than to read the books.
It’s worked pretty well, over time, with 1,001 Nights. Maybe you should forbid your teenager to read it….
For more suggestions on how to get your child to read, head over to The Washington Post.