Some families, in the midst of their whirlwind of life, never really got into the reading together habit when your children were young. It's so easy to become distracted and deal with what is most urgent rather than what might be more important. I often hear families say, "we just don't have time".
First of all, let me tell you -- it's not too late. Make a conscious decision that this is a forever gift you can give your child. If your child doesn't "love" reading, my first advice is never force a "sit down, you must read now" time. You can to enforce a regular homework schedule but put reading on a different page. Especially as our children grow into young adults, such pressure to read often simply backfires. So what do you do instead?
1) Start being a reading model yourself. Order a magazine subscription (usually only $15-25 for a whole year) that you both can enjoy. Check out a few books from the library or at the bookstore that you would like to read or revisit (and they don't have to be classics - think "what will I enjoy?" A mechanic's how-to, a cheater's manual for the latest video game, a cookbook, anything. Find out what books are on the reading list for your child's English class and determine that you'll read (or maybe) struggle through one just so you can relate to what your child is experiencing.
2) If your child says, "I hate reading", it may simply mean that she/he is embarrassed because reading skills are weak. Have a heart to heart, not about reading at first, just about what your child wants to do with his/her life. Share what you know about the importance of reading for that profession and offer to help your youngster get where he wants to be, do what he wants to do. Even professional ball players have to read large play books. Think of reading more as a tool for life than an academic exercise. Solicit help from your child's favorite teacher.
3) Involve your child in reading and writing activities that serve your family every day. Making out grocery lists, searching for coupons, reading labels when doing the family shopping -- all of that is literacy. Get your child involved in paying bills, doing laundry, and look for ways to incorporate a little reading and writing into those experiences. But make the reading the tool, not the focus.
As our readership of this grows (and I hope all of you will share this blog with at least one friend), I'd love to see you adding your own comments, suggestions, frustrations. Together we can help every child discover the power and privileges that come with reading, writing, listening, communicating and viewing.
Don't forget that TLA, Inc. specializes in helping families find time and motivation for reading and writing. Check out our website at www.readingisforeveryone.org for ideas for PTA/PTO meetings, community events, etc.