Can you name the last book you read? No, not an article on Apple News, a link on social media or that lengthy text from your sister-in-law; an actual book. According to the Pew Research Center, 24 percent of adults haven’t read – or listened to – a book in the last year. The non-reading numbers go up as the household income dips lower, statistics indicating that the higher income is for a household, the more likely the adults are to read regularly.
If you aren’t reading, your kids probably aren’t either. On the flipside, they’re probably on a device. A survey from the American Psychological Association found that a typical eighth grader spends four hours a day using digital media.
Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss’s birthday, is March 2 so we’re going to share the benefits of reading with your kids and how to encourage even the wariest of readers to be interested in books.
The benefits of reading are practically endless. It can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Reading can help you fall asleep and reduce depression. Reading can grow ‘soft skills’ like empathy, vocabulary and building social relationships. It also helps build emotional, social and intellectual development while helping build your child’s concentration and pique their curiosity and creativity. Another big benefit is entertainment! You or your child will never be bored if you have a book with you.
Your children, especially younger children, are still sponges. If they see you with a book or if you read to them for 30 minutes a day, you’ll be a good role model encouraging daily reading.
Encourage your child to read by reading with him, setting up a reading corner, nook or tent in your common living space and making it a part of your daily or weekly routine. Local libraries offer summer reading clubs, in addition to any required summer reading your school may have, helping to incentivize those kids driven by competition and rewards.
You can offer book suggestions if your child is going through something tough at school, experiencing problems with friends or having issues at home. They can learn from characters or use books to escape. You can also use the characters or storylines as a way to tee up a difficult topic that needs to be discussed.
As your child gets older, into middle and high school, you can read books together, picking up the Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia series and forming a mini book club in your home and discussing storylines at dinner or listening to the audiobooks on rides to school. You can expose your kids to different countries, cultures and times in history without ever leaving the house, and that is priceless.
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. If your child needs immediate crisis support, counselors are available 24/7. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. For a recommended reading list from the American Academy of Pediatrics, visit this site. For a recommended reading list from the Child Mind ® Institute, visit this site.
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