Posted: Jan 14, 2013 8:30 AM
 
We all know that we want our children to develop a passion for reading and become lifelong readers. As parents, we play a huge role in that and we can set them up for success with a handful of helpful tricks.

Contributed by LeVar BurtonLeVar Burton

Americans should be justifiably proud of our 99 percent national literacy rate. Parents, teachers and exceptional resources, such as PBS and Sesame Street, have made what I believe is our birthright, the ability to read, a great American success story. For our children to be fully realized humans, for them to reach their full potential individually and as members of our society, I also believe that they must develop a passion for reading. Whether it's fictional stories, religious texts, non-fiction histories or any other kind of literature that may interest them over the years, being a lifelong reader helps complete a person.

Many of our children are born readers, seemingly willing and able to read anything put in front of them. For these children, it's important that we continue to encourage this passion, providing them with access to libraries, book stores, on-line materials and apps that encourage reading and make it a rewarding use of their time.

I can't emphasize enough the benefits of your children seeing you read.

For many others, however, reading can often seem like a chore or an impossible task. Those who struggle with reading will do anything to avoid the task, and would never consider picking up a book in their spare time. Some have no specific problem with reading, however they find they have other interests that they prefer to enjoy and similarly won't pick up books when given an opportunity. For both of these groups, I feel there are some helpful ways in which we can encourage them to become lifelong readers.

First and foremost, when our children are young, I can't emphasize enough the benefits of your children seeing you read. As with so many things, if you demonstrate through your actions the importance of something in your life, your children will emulate it. What's important to you can become important to them. Read yourself, and they will get the message.

Let your children's own interests dictate what they read, and allow them to read anything they want that's age appropriate.


Next, let your children's own interests dictate what they read, and allow them to read anything they want that's age appropriate. If superheroes are your young son's passion, let him read comics about them. If your daughter is a sports lover, let her read books about sports stars or stat books. It's not what they read at this age, but that they read at this age that establishes a pattern of enjoying books and craving the experience of reading.

Rewards for reading can be a useful tool as well. Many schools offer pizza parties for those kids that have read a certain number of minutes during their summer break. Come up with your own rewards such as additional TV or computer time for so many minutes read.

Make your kids interests your interests.

Finally, make your kids interests your interests. If they just read a book or a comic, talk to them about it. Ask fun and engaging questions about it, more as participation around the story rather than a quiz. It's amazing how kids will go on and on about things they are interested in when a parent also shows interest.

As with any good habit or desirable trait, we can't force our children to do it — to want to read. However, by encouraging them to experience books and talk about the joys of what they are reading, we quietly and effectively plant the seeds for our kids to be lifelong readers.

More on setting your kids up for success

6 Tips for finding the right preschool
Preparing for kindergarten
Preparing your child to tackle tests

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