“But MOMMMMM. I don’t WANT to READ!!!” — the classic after-school phrase almost every parent has heard at least once from their children. It seems like technology has stolen this generation’s love of reading, but is it possible that it could also recapture it?
Today, we have four tips for you (with tons of sub-tips written throughout) to help you use technology to make reading fun for your kids. Throughout this piece, you’ll find a few ways to charge up the reading “environment”; fire up the inspiration to get kids involved with blogging; take the help of apps to help with reading, and also a handful of online reading sources anyone will love.
Kids Don’t Hate Reading — They Hate Books
There’s a common misconception these days when kids say, “Man, I hate to read!” — for some reason, people think they actually hate reading! Which…is exactly what they tend say. In my opinion, those of us in the adult world aren’t reading between the lines when we hear this. It isn’t that kids hate reading. Personally, I believe that that they just hate books. Some of you may consider this to be an unforgivable sin, but in my opinion, it’s expected. As humanity presses forward, our reading formats change. After all, I’m going to assume that most of you reading this post aren’t crazy about reading scrolls or stone tablets.
We’re in yet another transition period — one in which most reading is done in front of a screen. Novels no longer have to appear in the form of books. Instead, they can be on Kindles, Nooks, and more. There’s also the standard format of screen-based text: no paragraph indentations, short paragraphs, sans-serif fonts.
I highly recommend that those of you who are around kids often try and find a way for them to read novels and more in formats that heavily borrow from screen-based text. Check out the Amazon Kindle Store or Project Gutenburg for ebooks that your kids (and you) can enjoy.
Start Blogging (And Get Their Friends Doing It, Too)
Somewhere along the line, it was once said that the best readers make the best writers. Some schools encourage blogging on child-safe blogging platforms. By allowing your kid to blog, you not only give them the opportunity to express themselves in an awesome open format, but you also give them the chance to hone their skills as writers. Of course, when you are honing your skills, what do you do? You look at examples.
I’m not going to say that introducing your kids to writing is going to make them awesome readers. Besides, some kids just don’t like writing, and that’s an entirely different thing than reading. (What you really need to watch out for are the kids who actually enjoy writing. Those are the ones who end up writing for major tech blogs and selling their souls to the Internet.)
However, if your kid takes to writing, chances are he or she will want to read what other people are writing, too. I’d even encourage you to talk with the parents of your child’s friends and see if they can get in on the writing action. This can allow for quite a bit of collaboration, sharing, and involvement as far as reading goes.
Even better, you may want to consider developing a “virtual book club” via blogging. Each week, your child and a few other kids can post on a shared blog what they thought of the most recent book that they have read — pretty cool!
Make Your Reader Apps Kid-Friendly
So you probably use your own apps for online reading, but it’s possible to make these same apps kid-friendly, too! Flipboard offers quite a few selections for kids to read, and if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app to let them read using a millennial-friendly format.
Similarly, I’d recommend you allow your kids to play as many word games as possible. There are the classics, of course: Ruzzle, Words With Friends, etc. But then there are lesser-known apps like SuperWHY – an app developed by the PBS Kids show of the same name which teaches young children about words and reading.
If reading lessons aren’t what you’re into, then there are a few apps that are a bit more book-focused. For instance, Dr. Seuss’s Short Story Collection is an app available for iOS (at $10.00), and yes, it features eight classic stories from the famous author himself.
Let Them Browse (Under Careful Supervision, Of Course)
Reading is all about exploration of other worlds regardless of whether they are fictional or nonfictional. With that said, rather than limiting your child’s Internet experience, I say this: let them explore.
Don’t just let them browse the Internet like crazy, though. With how the Internet is today, I understand that there should be some limitations. Instead, pick out a few “safe” sites for them to browse with wild abandon. Encourage them to read world news on child-safe news websites. If they have some form of freedom, chances are they will enjoy whatever it is that they are reading. Here are a few kid-friendly reading sites that I found which seem pretty cool:
- National Geographic (be careful)
- Wikipedia (again, be careful)
- Kids Stories Online
- Magic Keys
- Discovery Channel
Tell us all about your struggles and success stories? What other ways have you used technology to get kids reading? Have you used any of the above tips? What worked and what didn’t?