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.”
I'm not a parent, but my instinct here would be to lead by example. In other words, I think if I wanted my children to be readers, I would make sure to be a reader myself and surround them with books. I would talk about the books I'm reading and make sure that they saw me reading and enjoying reading. I would also make sure that there wasn't some other problem like a learning disorder that might be interfering with their desire to read, and talk to their teachers about what might be going on. After that, I would take them to the library and help them pick out books on things they're interested in- maybe nonfiction books about a hobby or a sport or a celebrity that they like. I would make an effort to not impose my own tastes but work with them to find out if maybe there's something they'd like to do or learn more about- almost the same approach I use with library patrons. And I'd just talk to them and make sure that they knew that I love them no matter what!
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