Getting the kids to read right!
E-reading devices have killed the book! The book is dead – long live the book!
With the advent of Kindle and the e-reader – along with smartphones, iPads, Tablets and so on – the distinct pleasure of reading books looked set to join dining with dinosaurs as something kids won’t be doing any more. But, to misquote Mark Twain (author of Huckleberry Finn – a must-read, by the way!), rumours of the death of books are greatly exaggerated.
In fact, our youngsters are reading more than ever, due to the addictive nature of the glowing screen and the tactile manner in which it is controlled. Despite the lure of technology, the sales of printed books for children have actually increased, with a year-on-year rise of about 10% since 2013. Indeed, according to the children’s editor of the Bookseller magazine, Charlotte Eyre, “Digital isn’t taking over the kids’ book market in the same way as it is the adults, for obvious reasons. A lot of parents don’t want their children spending all their time on devices. And teenagers actually prefer print books – it’s a status symbol to have the latest book by Patrick Ness or Holly Smale.”
Acknowledging that teenagers are reading online, she emphasises: “I’m not saying teenagers don’t read anything digitally, of course they do, but I think they read posts on social media, newspaper or magazine articles, or stories on Wattpad, more than books.”
Of course, as parents it can be frustrating to witness how electronic devices have taken over. On the train, bus, and even in restaurants, almost everyone is on their phones, iPads or tablets, tap-tap-tapping away, sniggering at social media or listening to music. And yet; look carefully and you will see quite a few people reading books and not all of them are over the age 50!
Here are some tips, then, to help you inspire young readers:
• Read to them! Generations before mobile IT was a twinkle in a scientist’s eye, parents read to their offspring as a shared experience. The kid can “read” with you, too, which encourages learning while helping them enjoy themselves.
• Make time for reading. You are busy but kids are busy, too! School, social media, sports and friends demand their time. Children need your help in rescheduling to make time for reading.
• It doesn’t just have to be “books” – often perceived as boring. Try magazines and comics – leading up to graphic novels – as well as playing your own version of “Quote-Unquote”, beginning with lines from books or other material you have read together. Leave literature lying around!
• Make it fun! Once, in an episode of his comedy show, Good News, Russell Howard said the way to make reading books look good is to: “Just make your book look like it’s the most fascinating thing in the world… use facial expressions to express how amazing it is…”
• Talk about literature! Chat to your child about books you’ve read that they might enjoy, too. Relate everyday events to stories you have read and soon, you will be getting your kids to read in the right way!