Watching endless episodes of your favorite show on Netflix? It turns out that Scandal-addicts are only recently discovered something that readers have enjoyed for hundreds of years: binging. Diving into a good book, getting lost in different worlds, and losing track of the hours are things that loyal book lovers know well — and now there’s proof that reading actually helps you do better in both school and life (unlike Netlfix binging).
So what can we do to convince kids to turn off the screen and crack open a good book?
Dr. Daniel Willingham suggests that we should “teach kids to love reading” rather than just teaching them to simply read, starting from a young age. The idea is that parents must instill a sense that reading is a family value, something that is very important to the parents.
STRATEGICALLY PLACED READING MATERIAL
It can be super helpful to place magazine and books in places where kids will be bored and have no other entertainment options available. Put some reading material in the car and see if your kids pick it up and start reading. Don’t forget the bathroom!
BE CAREFUL WITH REWARDS
Dr. Willingham cautions against using rewards for reading. Paying for reading essentially teaches your child that it’s not something you expect to be pleasurable for them. It also incentivizes “skimming” and speed reading — meaning kids won’t really digest and internalize what they are reading. Rewarding should only be used as a last resort.
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APPS THAT ENCOURAGE READING
Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet: Spice up an old classic by reading Romeo & Juliet with this interactive app, complete with narration of the full text and simple animation of each scene. With a synopsis section, which summarizes all of the acts in a scene for quick understanding, as well as a notes section where kids can jot down thoughts, make this a practical way to study one of the high school classics.
Cinderella by Nosy Crow: Nosy Crow developers are known for creating some of the very best reinterpretations of classic children’s stories, and Cinderella is no exception with beautiful illustrations and boundary-pushing interactivity that fully immerses readers in the story. Here the tale is set in modern day with a step-mom and sisters who are more misunderstood than malevolent, and a prince who values Cinderella’s kindness over cuteness. Kids can read the book themselves or hear it told to them through a mix of narration and dialogue. Almost every page includes interactive elements that are all but guaranteed to captivate. Overall this is a beautifully designed app that takes a timeless classic and turns it in to something both magical and modern.
Starfall Learn to Read: Perhaps one of the very best alphabet-learning apps out there, Starfall guides kids through a series of high-repetition, engaging games that move from the basic building blocks of letter recognition all the way up to reading short sentences. With a focus on phonics, the site moves slowly and gradually through the reading process so that kids will feel encouraged, not rushed. And best of all, the app offers an A+ selection of interactive challenges that teach letter recognition in a variety of ways — through seeing, listening and within words and sentences.