As a literacy specialist and early childhood educator, I’m always thinking of ways to instill in young readers a passion for reading and books as their default hobby—instead of being entranced by their handheld devices. As Katt Williams’ opening act joked during his WWIII Comedy Tour, “…when the internet goes out, kids go out…”

While smartphones and other devices—along with social media platforms—won’t become obsolete anytime soon, we can still set our young people up for reading success and foster bookworm habits despite their being surrounded by screens of all shapes and sizes. To this end, I have culled some tips that you might find useful while at home with your children big and small—and particularly if they’ve become increasingly allergic to longform reading with the advent of technology!

1. Be A Good Role Model. 

If our collective goal is to inspire a generation of readers, reading should be a habit of ours as adults. We need to be mindful of our own screen time and find creative ways to build reading into our daily routine. One suggestion is to implement D.E.A.R. time at home. Set aside a few minutes daily where everyone in the household Drops Everything and Reads. Literally. Whether the words are coming from a screen or have been printed on a page you’re holding in your hand, uninterrupted time to read daily needs to become habitual.

2. Avoid Coercion

While it might be tempting to mandate designated reading time for less than willing participants, coercion isn’t always an effective strategy—especially if our goal is to make reading an elective pastime for years to come. Taking devices away until reading occurs will further sour them to the indisputable pleasures of reading. Find ways to build their excitement for reading by having them select the books they read. Make library visits and bookstores to augment at-home libraries a regular occurrence. Children should be selecting the books that they want to read—whether it’s a graphic novel, a picture book, or a chapter book. Steer them towards developmentally appropriate choices but empower them to make their own choices as readers based on their interests. This leads me to my next point.

3. Make Quality Literature Accessible

Make quality content accessible—whether it be at home or in the car while on the go. If you’re a minimalist like I am and are manic about reducing physical clutter, consider introducing your children to Goodreads, EPIC, and Hooked—or the many other online platforms that provide books by the thousands. Most libraries also provide digital content too like audio books. Informative/educational podcasts can also begin to spark a proclivity towards reading particularly if you are thoughtful about the content you’re exposing them to.

Happy Reading, Friends!

By Chloe Ball, M.Ed, K-3 Reading Specialist