In just two weeks our household will transition from hosting barbecues and enjoying ice cream nightly to completing homework and packing lunches. The new school year marks an exciting time in my stepsons’ lives: new teachers, new classmates, and even new sneakers and schools supplies! My husband and I will also use this time to reestablish old routines and create new ones that help the boys learn and grow.
When I first met my stepsons several years ago, they were considerably more into screen time than reading. And while I shared their love of games, TV, and movies, I was determined to also make them love reading. By making some simple changes, we have created two avid readers (regardless of reading logs or summer assignments)!
Here are five ideas on how to spark a love of reading this school year:
1. Create new routines.
We slowly swapped out a nighttime show for a bedtime story or independent reading. Other days the kids read when they first wake up or while dinner is being prepared. What was first met with protest is now met with enthusiasm as reading has become a natural (and expected) part of their daily lives.
2. Lead by example.
More often than not, I’m in the midst of a good book, so I try to let the boys see me with Kindle in hand. My husband prefers magazines, so he’s often sneaking in an article before bed or while watching TV. Regardless of the medium, reading is a part of all our lives.
3. Start a collection.
Both our boys like collecting things: shells, rubber balls, and football stickers. We’ve created great excitement about reading by “collecting” books that are part of a series (Junie B. and the My Weird School series have both been big hits in our house). Explore your local library or bookstore to see which collection resonates with your child.
4. Give the gift of reading.
When family members ask what they can get the boys for the holidays or their birthdays we always tell at least one person to give a gift card to a bookstore. Our kids love making a special trip to the store to spend their own money on a new book or two.
5. Don’t give up.
Two years ago I couldn’t get my older stepson to consider reading even one page of Harry Potter. Fast forward to today and he’s almost done with the series and is obsessed with all things spells and charms! Interests change, so be sure to revisit books that weren’t exactly met with enthusiasm the first time around.