Hey Shawnta! How Can I Get My Children to Read More?

Feb 1, 2023 1:04:00 PM


Hey Shawnta!
How can I get my children to read more?

As a kid, I stayed with my grandmother during the summer. She did not have cable. She had the main channels you could get with an antenna. My sisters and I would tune in and watch soap operas in the middle of the day. I always found babies interesting. The mom would talk to the unborn child in her belly. If the dad was in the picture (and dad should probably be in quotes since paternity is normally a secret on soaps), he would also talk to the mom’s belly. You would also see scenes of the parents reading to the belly or reading to the baby once the baby was born. This continued until SORAS (soap opera rapid aging syndrome) hit. That might sound like an unnecessary acronym, but trust me, soap lovers use it.

Soap operas are an escape from reality. Reality isn’t so perfect when it comes to raising children. There never seems to be enough time after school to eat, do after school activities and homework. Then when you think of trying to get your children to read more, it seems like a difficult task.

We can do hard things, but we must have a plan.

Practice What You Preach

If you want your kids to read more and to believe reading is important, you must read. I mean reading content that is not on your cell phone. Read a magazine, a novel, a novella, a gardening book … just read something. 

Expand Your Definition of Reading Material

For some readers, a thick Harry Potter-like book is not the way to go. Some readers truly enjoy the short article and vivid graphics in a magazine. Some kids want to read about cheat codes. I do not understand why you would want to deny yourself the opportunity to conquer the game through trial and error, but some kids will read tons of books and pamphlets about the games they are playing. Graphic novels are books. They are not glorified comics. Many books now have a novel format and a graphic novel. You could read the novel while your child reads the graphic novel, and then you could compare notes.

Seek Out Audiobooks

I always told students I was a slow reader. I still am. I’m the teacher at the professional development who hated it when we jigsawed and divided up an article because I knew I would not finish in the allotted time. When I was in speech class in second grade, I learned I read much faster when I read aloud with feeling and enthusiasm. I have found that I enjoy listening to an audiobook while following along in the text. If your children have a reading gap, listening while following along in a book can help build word recognition and word pronunciation skills, which can lead to improved fluency.

Talk to Your Local Librarian

Librarians love helping people find books or content based on topics they love. If you are not a reader yet, you might not have recommendations for your children. Don’t take on the burden of finding books when your local librarian will already have recommendations.

Read for Together for 10 Minutes Before Bed

Even if it means going to bed 10 minutes late, cultivate this habit. Stick to it even if your kids don’t like it. Over time, you will find that not only are your children reading more, you are spending quality time together that no gift could replace.

I hope these tips help you help your children fall in love with reading.


Shawnta S. Barnes

Shawnta (Shawn-tay) S. Barnes, also known as Educator Barnes, is a married mother of identical twin boys. She navigates education from not only the educator’s perspective but also the parent’s perspective. She has been an educator for nearly two decades. Shawnta works with K-12 schools, universities, & education adjacent organizations through her education consulting business Blazing Brilliance. She is an adjunct college professor, supervises student teachers, Indy Kids Winning Editor-in-Chief, Brave Brothers Books Co-founder, & CEO, and Brazen Education Podcast host. She holds five education licenses: English/language arts 5-12, English to speakers of other languages P-12, library/media P-12, reading P-12, and school administration P-12, and she has held a job in every licensed area. Previously, she has served as a school administrator, English teacher, English learners teacher, literacy coach, and librarian. She won the 2019 Indiana Black Expo Excellence in Education Journalism Award. In 2023, she completed her doctorate in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education with a minor in Learning Sciences. She is an urban gardener in her spare time and writes about her harvest-to-table journey at gardenershicole.com. To learn more about Shawnta, visit educatorbarnes.com.

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