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Gin Up the Joy of Reading

In today’s device-driven culture, there are smart ways to help our children want to read, even crave reading.

As a little kid in a big family, I read everywhere. At the dining room table. On my bed. Squished down in the living room sofa as everyone around me went about their business. There weren’t smartphones then, though, nor tablets, laptops, Netflix or social media.

Great stories hooked me, and when I finished one, I started another. I couldn’t wait.

So how, in 2015, do parents and grandparents help children develop a joy of reading? How do we share the joys of reading when the culture pulls against it in so many ways and when reading seems “boring”? (And when more tests than ever in our schools drain the enthusiasm out of learning for learning’s sake?)

Reading is certainly far from boring, and today’s devices can help us if used properly. Good reading skills not only lay the foundation for a lifelong pastime, they help our children succeed in their school years and beyond. The reading habit “stimulates growth of the child’s brain, develops intellectual curiosity, expands a child’s vocabulary and gets the juices of his imagination flowing,” says pediatrician Meg Meeker, M.D.

Here are some savvy tips, inspired by experts in early childhood education, including Michiko Hikida and Jennifer Keys Adair from the University of Texas at Austin and the journal The Conversation, to help engender the joy of reading in even very young children:

All of these ideas and more can help foster the excitement for the written word that our children can so benefit from, as long as we nudge them in the right direction as parents.