“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” —Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with my Eyes Shut!
My sister-in-law sent out an S.O.S. a couple weeks ago looking for a book, any book, for her teenage son. He'd just learned he had to read one at least 200 pages in length and, in her words, you'd think he'd been told he was having four teeth pulled. That text came on the heels of my own son announcing he had 4 days to read the 400 page book (Ready Player One) he'd been assigned over the summer. Sigh.
Ben finished his book in time (gave it a thumbs up) and my nephew found a book that wasn't akin to dental torture. Crisis averted...this time. When it comes to reading, some kids are naturals and some not so much. I've got one of each in my family and one in between. Here are some tried and true tricks I've found that get a certain kid of mine to ditch the screen and pick up a book instead:
FIND BOOKS ABOUT THINGS THEY LOVE
The first thing Tracy asked when my sister-in-law sent her text was "What does your nephew love?" That's an easy one: football. Which made Tracy's suggestion just as easy: Brady vs Manning: The Untold Story of the Rivalry that Transformed Football by Gary Myers. And just like that he went from pained to pacified. I'd like to say pleased as punch, but that would be over-selling it. Baby steps.
LET 'EM READ WHAT THEY WANNA READ
Within reason, of course. Depending on the kid, that could get a little sketchy. (insert wide-eyed emoji here) Trying to force your kid to read books they have zero interest in will only backfire. Remember, we want them to enjoy reading. Does the book snob in me cringe a little when Ben ranks Robot Wars as one of his favorites? Absolutely. But it gets him away from the screen and hopefully helps develop a life-long love for the page. Winning.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE
Audio books are made for family road trips (aka hours trapped in a car with nowhere to run). Just be sure to choose wisely or they'll think you've invented a new form of torture (this isn't the time to introduce them to War and Peace). Here are some guaranteed crowd pleasers.
READ AS A FAMILY
Those audio books we love? They'd also make great books to read aloud as a family. To pique there interest further, find books soon to be made into a movie and when you finish go see the flick together. Some friends of ours used to read Harry Potter by flashlight on their camping trips. The idea of reading Harry under the stars almost makes me want to be a camper. Almost.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, BRIBE 'EM
Tracy's mom, or as we affectionately call her, Lady Di, has been paying her grandkids a penny a page for years now, which officially makes her the best grandma ever. News flash (if you've been living in a cave): money motivates. So does competition. Combine the two and you've hit the motivational jackpot.