How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?
In the book Gifted Hands by brilliant surgeon Ben Carson, one of the things that turned his life around was his mother’s requirement that he and his brother read books and write book reports for her. That approach worked with him, but I have been afraid to try it. My children don’t need to “turn their lives around,” but they would gain so much from reading and I think they would enjoy it so much if they would just stop telling themselves, “I just don’t like to read.”
In the high school where I worked a few years ago, each morning at 10:40, right after morning announcements, the voice on the PA system would say, “And now it’s time for silent reading.” For 20 minutes, the entire school, teachers and students alike, stopped everything and read. You could read anything you liked, as long as you were reading.
I loved that idea, and wished it would spread throughout the entire world. Besides encouraging a reading habit, it gave kids the idea that reading was important, not just for young people, but for every person.
I think that’s one of the best ways to encourage reading at home, too. Make it a family affair, maybe allow a special snack while reading, or read aloud to one another. Make trips to the library a regular event, coupled with a stop for ice cream or pizza. (I still do that, especially now that my library has a cafe with super home baked cookies for sale, and I certainly don’t need any encouragement to read!)
I guess I always lean toward positive reinforcement to encourage any behavior, believing in the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
And just because children don’t read now, doesn’t mean they never will. My husband was never much of a reader until just the past couple of years…now his TBR list is longer than mine!