With all the gizmos, gadgets and electronic media available these days, it can be tough for parents to get kids to sit down with good old-fashioned books. But regular reading, done for fun, is linked to better school performance and can expose kids to a world of knowledge.
Experts advise parents of reluctant readers to, above all, keep the activity enjoyable.
"Reading should never feel like a chore," says David Borgenicht, father of two young children, author, and publisher of Quirk Books. "There are so many exciting books out there for all ages. It's just a matter of finding what your child likes."
Here are some ways you can encourage your child to drop the remote and pick up a book instead:
• Start early: Good habits start young. So set aside time daily to read together until he or she can do so alone. Visit the library regularly to attend story time and other children's literacy events, and to check out books.
• Set an example: Children learn by watching. If you aren't already a regular reader, become one today.
• Stock up: The more types of reading materials in a home, the better students perform in reading proficiency, according to the Educational Testing Service. So stock your home with newspapers, mysteries, biographies, poetry, historical fiction and every genre of interest to your family.
"You may even want to leave some books and magazines in the car so kids can squeeze a short read in during commutes," says Rekulak.
• Think ahead: Serial novels can keep kids continually engaged in books. Look for something full of action and adventure that's fraught with suspense, like the new Lovecraft Middle School series by Charles Gilman about the strange world of a creepy middle school. A nod to H.P. Lovecraft, the iconic horror author of the 20th century, the book is appropriate for boys and girls ages 10 and older. The newest in the series, "The Slither Sisters," is about two monsters disguised as students who are plotting to abduct the entire seventh grade. To learn more about the series, visit LovecraftMiddleSchool.com.
• Make it easy: Give your child the right tools he or she needs to read comfortably. An armchair pillow and a bedside reading lamp will make reading a comfortable experience.
• Tune out: Be sure to have a period each evening where no television, gaming systems or gadgets are allowed. Make this "reading time," go hand in hand with something fun -- like dessert -- so there's no protest.
You can find a children's reading list of recommended books from the American Library Association at ala.org.
After school, homework and extracurricular activities, reading may not be a child's top priority. But by taking a few key steps, you can instill a lifelong love of reading.