But what if it is raining, or cold and windy, or their friends are all busy, or they’ve used up their allotted video game time for the week already? What could they do then?
In the absence of other viable options, children might talk or text with their friends on the phone, pester their siblings until someone gets mad, generally make a nuisance of themselves to their parents by moping around the house and whining about being bored or they just might pick up a book and read themselves into an author-induced magic place where they’ve never been before.
There are many delightful ways to spend an afternoon with familiar and enjoyable activities, but one is guaranteed to expand their understanding of the world and people in it, while enriching their vocabularies and enhancing their writing styles: Reading a good book.
New readers may enjoy short picture books that invite them to meet new people, and explore interesting places, events and situations. More accomplished and dedicated readers may have been saving a special book, one recommended by a close pal or their goofy old uncle, for just this kind of occasion.
Ensuring that reading books is an option takes some work by others in the home.
The first task in that work is to make books available in the home. Buying books can seem expensive, but most books, for pretty much any occasion, are priced just right as gifts. And once read by an older child, books become a natural re-gift to their younger brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. And of course there are no-cost options like visiting a public library or an online library (may I suggest www.UniteforLiteracy.com and http://en.childrenslibrary.org/). Indeed, the Internet, which is available almost everywhere, makes having rotating choices of wonderful reads in any home easier and more affordable every day.
Beyond making books available in the home, THE most important “work” a family can do to create lifelong, avid readers is to SHOW children that reading is an enjoyable activity to be chosen above others. Being told how much fun reading is carries no inspiration for most kids to try it themselves unless they see others around them actually reading and enjoying time with their noses in books.
Regularly seeing an adult or older sibling:
- Always having an appealing book in their possession or within reach
- Intently reading a self-selected book whenever time permits
- Reading right on past bed-time or lights out
- Showing irritation at interruptions to their reading
- Smiling to themselves, laughing or naturally showing other emotions while reading
- Being reticent to put their book down at supper time
- Warning others NOT to lose their place and fussing when their bookmark falls out, and
- Being eager to return to their book when they have been forced by circumstances to stop.
These behaviors demonstrate the delights in afternoon reading and leave lasting impressions that stay with youngsters, from “Once upon a time…” to “The End.”