Asked & Answered: Reading and Screen Time (Part Five)

All responses taken from our Facebook groups: Foster Parenting Toolbox and Kinship Parenting Group.

Many parents have a hard time incorporating reading into their children’s day-to-day routines – especially when their children prefer screen time. We asked current foster, kinship and adoptive parents for advice about making reading a priority in their children’s lives. Here’s what they told us:

“Read with your kids. Demonstrate reading for enjoyment yourself. Stay off the screens yourself. Make stuff they like available in reading form. They like the Captain Underpants TV show? Get the books. Is the kid into comics? Get graphic novels. Kid loves Pokémon? Get Pokémon stories and books about the game. Make lots of library trips, every day even. Make an event of it — everyone brings a book and a blanket to the park and you lay under the tree reading. As humans we are wired to do things that are easier (watching TV) and we live in a society where screens are everything. It has to be done planfully.”

“Reading for enjoyment doesn’t happen until they can read well enough to think about the content instead of putting the effort into decoding the words. That means they need to practice 20-30 minutes every day (can be two, 15-minute segments). Stick with requiring this and in 6-9 months you’ll have a child that loves to read. (two of my kids loved to read from the beginning – the other six ‘hated’ reading until they had that daily reading practice, (usually around 3rd grade, but works later on too). They all enjoy reading now. (By the way, I’ve heard studies show that rewarding/bribing a kid to read actually decreases their interest in reading – they only read to get something, rather than enjoying reading for the intrinsic pleasure of a good book).”

“We read to our almost 11-year-old every night and have since she got to us. She’s not a huge reader but if we ever dare to propose skipping reading one night she lets us know how she feels about that! At 9, we started with picture books, but now we do chapter books. She also has to do solo reading and math worksheets to earn screen time.”

“I take them to the library and they get to pick out the book they want to read. I also read to them. I try to find books that they will find interesting.”

“Read yourself…let them see you enjoying it!”

“As an author, I recommend trying your hand at helping them write their OWN book. That way you can help them research by reading other books kids have written or others have written about things that relate to them. You don’t have to publish it, but there are ways you can self publish fairly inexpensively.”

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