Lifestyle This is how I got my children to love reading and time...

This is how I got my children to love reading and time spent looking at screens was no longer a problem

My husband and I often joke that if someone broke into the house they would be very disappointed. We don’t have expensive jewelry or fancy electronics to take away. We have invested in books —lots and lots of books.

We are not the only ones who enjoy it. Our children also love to read. My 4 children — ages 14, 12, 10, and 6 — don’t spend a lot of screen time. When they are not at school or in an extracurricular activity, a good part of the time is spent reading.

This is how we have helped our children to love reading.

We set an example by reading and talking about its benefits

My husband and I know that, above all, our children learn by watching us. We piled a stack of books on our nightstand, and heThe children never see me leave the house without something to read. to entertain me while I wait at the school bus stop or in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment.

Rachel Garlinghouse

Seeing us read all the time has made them understand that it is a worthwhile activity, and they have assumed it. Reading helps us learn about new topics, other cultures, different points of view, and historical facts.

It can help us relax, especially before going to bed after a hectic day. Reading also helps us learn vocabulary and review grammar rules—and understand when they can be broken in creative ways.

There are books always available

Have bookshelves in almost every room in the house, with books they can pick up. When something is out of sight it’s easy to miss or ignore it. And we don’t want that to happen with books.

One of Rachel Garlinghouse's kids reading a book
Rachel Garlinghouse

With colorful stacks of titles always on our kids’ horizon, they’re never far from something new to discover.

We go to the library and let them choose what to read

I often say that the library is a space free of expenses and purchases. Especially in summer, we visit twice a week so they can choose new books and explore the latest releases.

When they were younger, we would go to story readings there and participate in summer reading programs.

There are so many ways to enjoy books. We let our children choose what they want to read and the format, whatever is accessible and enjoyable for them.

We offer books as a reward

When they have a goal we offer them a new book as an incentive by the time they fulfill it. For example, one of my children wanted to improve her science grades. So we agreed that when he did, he could choose which reading to buy. It worked. Banned books are allowed; in fact, they are encouraged.

One of Rachel Garlinghouse's kids reading a book
Rachel Garlinghouse

reading as a gift

Besides, books are our favorite gifts. When family and friends of our children ask what can they give the children for their birthdays or Christmas, they always offer a long list of titles what they want to read And when they do get cash, they usually spend it at one of our local bookstores.

We read before screen time

We haven’t banned them from screen time entirely, we just have some limits on how we use it. We have a set technical time, which is usually while we prepare dinner.

Until then, when they are not doing activities and get bored, they have the option to take a book. I know that parents are afraid that their children will be bored, but boredom offers a unique opportunity to poke your nose into a good story

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