Make Reading a Family Ritual

Reading time is an important part of any child’s development. Reading not only improves school success, it also reduces stress, helps with sleep, and slows cognitive decline. With National Book Lovers Day on August 9th (only a few days away), now’s the time to make reading a family ritual. Here are four tips that can help your foster a family reading practice.

Be an Example for Your Kids

Too often parents want their kids to read more, but when you ask about their own reading habits, the parents admit that they don’t read much either. If you want your kids to read you have to lead by example. If you’re kids see you reading, if they hear you discussing your latest book, they’ll be more likely to read themselves.

If you’re not a big reader, start small. Try a collection of short stories and finish a story a day. Or try an anthology from your favorite genre (fiction, mystery, romance, non-fiction, etc.)

Schedule Family Reading Time

Once you’ve established a reading habit you can get the rest of your family in on the action. Schedule a family reading time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Everyone can turn off their tech and read for an hour before lunch. Afterwards, at the family table, everyone can discuss what they read.

If your weekends are pretty booked, consider making reading part of the family sleep ritual. Encourage the kids to read a few pages in bed before they go to sleep. This can be a great transitional practice if your kids are getting a little too old for you to be reading bedtime stories to.

Start Exploring New Genres

Everyone has a different taste in books. Sometimes people don’t like reading simply because they haven’t found a genre that interests them. While the bestsellers’ list makes buying books for your kids easy, they aren’t guaranteed to hold your children’s attention. Instead, focus on finding the perfect genre for your kids—there are many to choose from including graphic novels for kids, young adult fairy tales, and steampunk children’s books.

Make Reading a Reward, Not a Punishment

When a child needs to be disciplined, parents often take away gadgets (laptops, smartphone, video games, etc.) and toys as a punishment, leaving the child with nothing but books for entertainment. While this may your kids to read for the day, it can deter them from reading in the future. Over time your kids may start to associate reading with punishment, taking all the joy out of it and they may not want to read for fun anymore.

Instead, make reading a reward. When your kids bring home good grades or another scout badge, treat them to a mini-shopping spree at your local bookstore. They’ll soon associate reading good times, rather than bad.

Bonus. Looking for some more reading tips? Check out this Mindful Summer Reading Guide—after all, summer isn’t over yet. This guide will help you build your own Mindful reading list to expand your mind and nourish your soul.