Updated: Jan 29
There are a number of things competing for our children’s attention. As caregivers, we do our best to balance the experiences and opportunities we provide our children.
If we’re honest with ourselves we’re driven by the pressure to make sure that our children are equipped with the skills they’ll need to thrive in life. Unfortunately, this is not enough to get some children to pick up a book. Simply put, children gravitate towards things that spark their interests and stimulate their curiosity to learn more.
Since we're keeping it real, if you presented your younger self with a book and this gaming system, what would stimulate your curiosity? (Photo: reading captions to my son while he plays his game)
Luckily, we can simulate our children’s interests, encourage them to explore new topics, and prepare them to thrive in a diverse society. In this post, I’ll provide tips for developing a positive attitude and interest in books that will help children overcome the challenges that come with reading.
How to Stimulate Your Child's Interest
Bring books to life! For younger children, this may mean being animated while reading. Have some fun by changing the tone of your voice or selecting books that include your child's favorite characters. Older readers can bring books to life by reading the book, then watching the movie or listening to the book on audio while following along with the text.
Most importantly let your child choose. As students, children are constantly being told what to read! What’s most important is that child reads often, it’s less about what they read. For this reason, I always encourage my children to play the story mode of their video games and to carefully read the captions.
How to Encourage Children to Explore New Topics
When encouraging children to explore new topics it is helpful to read aloud to them, I cannot emphasize this enough, there is no age restriction for reading aloud to children! While children are listening to a story, besides following along with their own text they can draw, color, work on a jigsaw puzzle or play with a fidget toy.
Selecting books at the appropriate reading level removes an additional barrier to children exploring new topics or genres. To determine your child's reading level consult with your child's teacher or book a consultation with SOL Learning Center to explore how we can assess your child's needs. Additionally, refer to this article from Scholastic for a kid-friendly guide to different book genres.
How to Prepare Children to Thrive In a Diverse Society
Digging deeper into stories allows children to make connections to the characters, setting, plot, and theme. When children practice making connections to themselves, other texts, and the world while reading they are able to engage deeper in the reading experience and improve comprehension. I love reading with my children because it creates opportunities for me to use texts to discuss real-world topics. When I read with my children it gives them a safe space to share their own experiences and to learn about the experiences of others. Turning to books during tough times helps to create a safe space to explore the actions and emotions that build up during conflicts by focusing on the characters and allowing readers and listeners to make individual connections without judgment.
Exposing children to diversity in books will prepare them for life in a diverse world. When children encounter books that represent the variety of cultural traditions and family structures that coexist in our communities, they learn compassion, which is extremely important for dismantling bias and racism.
A sense of belonging is critical for building children's confidence, for this reason, it is empowering for children to see themselves reflected in the picture books around them. Luckily for us, a range of authors have made it their mission to create stories that have never been told with diversity in character traits. I remember how wonderful it felt to skim the pages of books that were full of illustrations of black children and families when I was a child.
The simplest way to build positive relationships with reading is to make it a part of your family's day-to-day life. If we are intentional and creative about the messages we give our children about reading they will understand why reading is important and look to books for knowledge, pleasure, and inspiration.
SOL Learning Center offers monthly book clubs that are designed to provide children with positive experiences with books by practicing mindfulness to build confidence and improve social skills. Our sessions are offered weekly and include activities that engage the heads, hearts, and hands of our children and families. Visit our programs page to sign up!
Early Reader's Book Club ages 4-7
Young Reader's Book Club ages 8-10
Middle-age Reader's Book Club ages 11-15