There are so many benefits to making reading a priority at home. Research shows kids who live in homes with more books achieve higher levels of education, while kids who read regularly are found to do better academically.
But making sure your child is reading at home is tricky. There are so many other things vying for the attention of today's kids. Television, toys, computer and tablet games, and even YouTube are all enticing forms of entertainment for young kids.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to create a home environment that is conducive to reading. By creating boundaries and setting yourselves up for success, you can easily sneak in more reading throughout the day.
Set boundaries for screens
This is the first and most important step for encouraging kids to read more at home. If your child prefers to play on a tablet or watch television to opening a book, set some boundaries for when and how screens can be used.
Limiting screen time is a great place to start. For kids under 5, limit screen time to an hour per day. For older kids, it can be more difficult to limit screen time, especially if they use computers or tablets to complete schoolwork. Here are some ways to limit screen time for elementary and middle school students:
- Keep screens off in the mornings before school.
- Limit solo screen time to an hour or two per school day, or a bit longer on weekends.
- Enjoy television together as a family for a certain amount of time each day.
- Set "no-screen" zones, like the car and the dinner table. This can encourage kids to use that time for other things (like reading!)
Have quiet time in your household
Maybe you can relate to this: growing up, the television was always on. I spent a lot of time at my grandmother's house, and she always had the TV on. At home, we watched the news every night followed by evening television or sports.
Most people will say it's difficult to read a book with the television on. Consider whether your home environment is conducive to reading. Think about setting aside some time during the afternoon or evening when there are no distractions like television or music and sit down to enjoy some reading.
Not only will a quieter home encourage your children to read, you'll also be modeling positive reading behavior. If your child isn't interested in reading during this time, that's ok. Set those hours as "quiet time" but allow them to choose what activity they do. They may not choose reading every day, but some days they may reach for a book.
Set screen-free hours at bedtime
Whatever you decide about screen time, have a cutoff time every night. Screens are bad for our sleep hygiene, so plan at least two hours without screens before you expect your child to fall asleep.
In lieu of other entertainment, books are a perfect addition to a bedtime routine. Reading together as a family is wonderful, and older kids might enjoy reading alone until they fall asleep.
If you've got a night owl, this can be a great incentive to get them to read more. Make lights-out their choice, as long as they're in their room reading after a certain time.
Put books in visible places
Out of sight, out of mind. Keep books in all of the places you spend time in your home. You child is much more likely to read if the books are easily accessible to them.
Think outside the bookshelf and consider where your child spends time. Do they hang out in the kitchen while dinner is cooked? Keep books in the kitchen. Does your family enjoy watching sports together? Keep books in the living room for kids to peruse during the game. You can even keep books in the bathroom if you think it'll encourage your child to read! (Come on, we've all seen it or done it ourselves!)
Always bring a book on the go
If I'm anticipating any sort of wait or uncertainty in my day, I always makes sure to bring along a book. Sneaking in 5 minutes of reading here and there can add up throughout the course of a day.
The same is true for kids. Instead of allowing kids to use a tablet or play games on your phone when you're out and about, have a stash of books in the car ready to go. Books become amazing boredom busters when faced with no other options. Kids can read in the car (if they don't get carsick) and bring a book along to the grocery store or a meal at a restaurant.
Anywhere you go, encourage your child to bring books along. This simple trick will increase their reading time substantially.
How do you sneak reading into your family's daily routine?