Best Ways to Get Your (Older) Kids to Read (Without Making Them Pick Up A Book)
So, you find yourself at home with the kids. Your young kids may adore cuddling up for a story time or even have a teetering stack of books waiting for a bedtime story, but as they grow older, those books are replaced by electronics. Video games. Smart Phones. The only book you’ll ever see is one assigned from school, which you suspect will never emerge from their backpack to see the light of day.
You could suggest they read- have them turn off all electronics for an hour and face the endless eye-rolls and defiant teenage lash back. How on earth do you get your older kids to read- especially if you don’t have many or even any books in the house?
Stop forcing the ‘reading is good mantra’ (kids can smell that one a mile-away). Instead, check out these five clever top ways to get your kids to read- (even if they hate reading). They’ll be getting their reading-time in and may not even realize it!
Use Closed Captions
Closed captioning (cc) should become your television best bud. Anytime the TV is on, make sure it’s set to “Closed Captions”. This is when words appear at the bottom of the screen to tell you what is happening and what the characters are saying. You’ll see things like: (thunder rumbles) and (wind blows) along with the dialogue.
There are times when the spoken words and the captions don’t match, leaving you with a ‘huh?’ but for the most part, you can follow the story line. This feature was created for the deaf or audio- challenged, but you can use the closed captioning to your advantage to get your kids reading.
Turn on the closed captions and lower the volume of the television- tell them you have an important call/work that you need to deal with. They’ll strain to hear, and start following the words on the screen. Leave the Closed Captions on all the time- you may find yourself reading them too (wolf howling in background).
The Fun(ny) Stuff: Memes, Puns & Jokes
Laughter is the best medicine- and everyone loves the funny stuff. Chances are your child is already deeply engrossed by modern-day memes. Pictures with funny captions. You can find them on Instagram (search #funny or #funnymeme), Reddit and even Facebook. (Be prepared though, as meme searches can pull up adult humor too- if your child is younger, put on those parental controls!).
Get your kids into a happier mood with puns and jokes (do a search for “kid jokes” or “jokes for kids” online). See who can find the funniest joke/pun/meme. This is research and reading while getting a good laugh at the same time!
Song Lyrics to Argue Over
Do you have a child who listens to music? Whether they are a fan of dancing, The Voice, or just listening to music, you can get them to read by starting an argument. Yes, you read that correct.
If they sing- challenge them with ‘that’s not what that song says.” Or start off singing one of their favorite song lyrics- deliberately using the wrong words. And insist they are the right words. This can send your musically minded teen in a tizzy.
Have them hunt down the actual song lyrics to prove you wrong- and you already know you are, but guess what- you got them reading- and researching too! Mission accomplished.
Believe it or not- all the texting your child does helps their reading skills, although TTYL, WYD, and LOL would have left Jane Austen scratching her head in confusion. Your own messages may not be the prose of Pride and Prejudice, but sending your kids lengthier texts will get them reading more.
Feel free to drop all those abbreviations in your texts messages and even throw in a few challenging terms. When you start waxing lyrical in your texts about your ‘serendipitous meeting with the neighbor’s cat’, they may think you’ve gone loopy- but kids tend to think that about their parents anyway.
You may not trust your kids to help you in the kitchen (yet), but you can get them to read out a recipe for you to create. Don’t have a cookbook? No problem! Do a search on the internet for ‘easy recipe’ of a dish- (guacamole/cookies/spaghetti sauce/ macaroons/pancakes-you decide), then hand it over to your child. Have them tell you what ingredients you need, how much, the preparation and cooking instructions. What kid doesn’t want to tell their parent/caregiver what to do for a change? Bonus points for getting them to cook too 😉
Get creative and flex your child’s mental muscles during this break with ingenious ways to get your kids to read more.
Can you think of any others?