How my mother got me to read a book a week
Did you know reading to your kids has little influence in getting them to read? Yes, according to the book Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, reading to your kids has no bearing on their reading. On the other hand, if you role model the behavior and read yourself, that’s the best way of getting your kids to read.
My mother begged me to read since the young age of seven. By age ten, she was pushing articles, books, and even the newspaper. “Really, Mom, the newspaper? I’m only ten years old,” I remember telling her. She gave me short stories, novels, classics, everything you can imagine. At that time, she was a philosophy and literature teacher. The result? I hated reading!
My mother reads a lot, and she’s a speed reader, to top it off. We had books on top of books on top of more books all over our house. One time I asked my Mom, while looking at one of the many bookshelves: “How many books have you read?” She thought for a moment and did some math in her head. “About 5,000”, she said. My eyes opened wide as I could not get my mind to wrap around that number. “But I’ve read them more than once,” she said, adding salt to my open wound.
By that time, I was already an avid reader and was proud of my determination towards learning, but 5,000 books? How could I ever compete with that without becoming a full-time reader? Then I read around one book per week, two at max on vacation, or read nonstop all weekend. My record was three books in a week.
What happened? How did I go from hating reading to reading every single free moment of my life? It started at ten or eleven years old, reading encyclopedias. You might think it’s the most boring thing to create a reading habit, but it’s not. This encyclopedia was huge and heavy, but it was at the bottom of the bookshelves where I saw it every day and could easily reach it. One day I paid more attention and noticed it said “Astronomy” in one of the tomes. I sat on the floor and started reading about galaxies, stars, solar systems, and black holes. I finished the entire astronomy section and picked up the next volume, mythology; wow! I get excited just remembering reading about Greek mythology, King Arthur, and other incredible stories. I didn’t pick up stories for ten more years, only reading philosophy, religion, astronomy, and other texts. At 13 years old, when my schoolmates were reading popular fiction for schoolwork, I was reading “The Life Beyond Death” by Yogi Ramacharaka.
When I turned into my teens and wanted to argue with my Mom about anything, she always cited books in the discussion. At first, I just ignored her, but soon I realized I could not really have an argument based on facts or real knowledge, so I had to read the books. This clever trick only works if you read a whole lot, but it works wonders.
Here are five quick tips for getting your kids to read:
1 – Be a role model. Kids learn by watching the adults in their lives, so if you want your kids to read, make sure you’re reading yourself. Let them see you reading for pleasure, and talk to them about the books you’re enjoying.
2 – Visit the new large bookstores often, as you would a toy store. Start going when kids are three or four years old. All the kids in my family think the bookstore is like Disneyland. Play games and make reading fun!
3 – Don’t just push stories on your kids; let them explore new topics. You might be surprised when they pick up a book on poetry, philosophy, or astronomy. When your kids choose books they’re interested in, they’re more likely to read.
4 – Introduce kids to audiobooks. Not everyone learns or retains information visually. Audiobooks are not the old book-on-tape you remember. They are incredible, beautiful productions that will get you and your kids hooked.
5 – Make reading a family activity. Set aside some time each day for family reading. This could be anything from reading aloud to each other to taking turns reading your own books. It’s also cool to talk about books. Ask your child what they’re reading and why they like it. Talk about the characters, the plot, and the setting. This will help your child to think more deeply about the books they’re reading.
It’s crucial not to force it. If your child doesn’t seem interested in reading, don’t force them. Just keep providing them with books and opportunities to read, and eventually, they’ll come around. Be patient. It may take some time for your kids to develop a love of reading. Just keep providing them with books and opportunities to read, and eventually, they’ll come around.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jorge S. Olson is a polymath, bestselling business author, and expert communicator globally recognized as an expert in beverages, consumer goods, and Mexico mergers & acquisitions. He’s held C-level positions in private and public companies for 15 years. When he’s not sharpening his communication skills, he’s building social enterprises, writing, and reading.
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