Let’s be honest. We want kids to read, and they’re on to us. The jig is up. This in mind, I put to you an arsenal of devious strategies, so tap your fingers together and prepare to cackle.
1 – Make them buy their own damn books: that’s right. Birthdays, holidays, give them gift certificates for bookstores. But not big box stores that sells as many knickknacks as books. A local bookstore that sells mainly, you guessed it, books. Otherwise, they’ll be at the cash register with Parcheesi 2.0 faster than you can say Ms. Peregrine’s Ho—. If modern society has done anything for our children, it’s instilled in them the insatiable desire to consume. Give them the currency, and they’ll spend it. And now that they’ve chosen reading material of their own volition, you bet they’ll open it.
2 – Abandon them at the library: when I was growing up, the community center that housed all my after-school sporting activities was attached to a library. In between karate and synchronized swimming, the choices were, spend an hour licking the chocolate off a Crunchie (yeah, I did that) or go to the library. Mind you, when I was growing up, the dollar stretched a lot farther than it did now. While a military family with four kids could afford all the extracurricular activities their kids wanted back then, I doubt that’s the case now. The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to abandon your kids at the library. Just do it. Find some interesting kid-geared events at or near the library, and tell your kids that’s where you’ll pick them up. Then be late. Then be late again. You can park nearby if you’re worried and want to keep an eye on them. Eventually, out of boredom, your kids will wander in and pick up a book. Just make sure they’re armed with a library card to finish the transaction.
3 – Pay them: pay them to read? I know what you’re thinking: looks like your parents forgot to include the scruples gene when they made you, Raimey. Bear with me. When I was growing up, I participated in a community-sponsored read-a-thon. A summer-long challenge if I remember correctly, in which prizes were awarded for the most books read. Now, I don’t have kids, but I was one, and an enterprising one at that. My parents can attest to my many requests for allowance increases. What I propose to parents is that you grant an allowance increase in exchange for chapters read. Books seem such big impossible things to conquer when you’re not used to them. Instead, set small, achievable, chapter-length goals in exchange for monetary gain. But how will I know if my kid is actually reading the chapters, Raimey? Easy. Choose a designated time of day when they have to read a chapter in your presence. No, Raimey, I’m busy enough as it is without having to babysit through reading time. Relax. It will only take a few sessions before your children are so enthralled with the story, that they can’t bear to wait a whole ‘nother day before picking it up again. “But, mom! Can’t you just trust me?” Once they start begging you for private reading time, that’s when you know you’ve raised a reader. Just don’t come crying to me when you can’t wake them after an all-night reading binge. Can’t have it both ways.
Do you have additional devious raise-a-reader strategies to add? Please do so below in the comments. The more underhanded the better.
I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)