Articles and Topics
How can I get my 7-year-old to fall in love with reading?
Carlie Muncie
Your son sounds exactly like too many of our children today, Carrie. We probably have no one to blame but ourselves, in that most parents allow children to watch far more TV than they realize. Although children can learn many skills by watching appropriate television, they can also begin “expecting to be fed” stimulation and enjoyment. To a young child, TV seems more like enjoyment or fun; reading seems like work.

But there are things you can do to help. First, set a good example. Show him books and articles you read and, if appropriate, make comments about them to him. Show him coupons you cut out of the paper and ask him to read them and tell you what products you have to buy and how much money you’ll save by using them. Ask him to try to read the directions on a bottle of cough syrup or some other medicine you might give him. Casually comment, ”You have to know how to read or you could make a big mistake with this medicine and get sicker.” If he gets any toys that require assembly, tell him he has to read the directions. And find time to read with him. He isn’t too old to love a bedtime story in which you read one page and he reads the next.

Since he loves things electronic, let the computer help in your quest. You obviously use the Internet, and he will enjoy using it also. Give him an assignment to find out how much a plane ticket to some destination he likes would cost. Encourage grandparents and other relatives to e-mail him. Then make him read the message and write a reply. If his grandparents don’t have e-mail, encourage them to write a “regular” letter to him. Many people don’t realize how much children love to get letters. Also, take him to a bookstore and just browse. Finally, biweekly trips to the public library can do wonders to help a child discover the wonderful world of books. Good luck.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education