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Curious, if you children are avid book readers, why do you think they are? What have you done to promote this? Do you think there is a correlation between screen time and reading?

 

I ask because of my 3 reading age kids NONE of them enjoy reading. It's my biggest homeschool disappointment. I had high hopes that all (some? ONE?!) would enjoy reading for pleasure. But alas, they don't. The only thing I can pinpoint is that all do play on screens, daily. I don't consider it an "issue" but all enjoy screen time. I'm curious if maybe I had outlawed this if I would have had a different outcome.

 

Thoughts?

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I think there can be a correlation, but we all know that doesn't mean causation.

 

Reading takes more effort than screens, so that's maybe part of it. A different area of the brain is rewarded by screens, IIRC.

 

Two of mine are more screen-oriented. The homeschooled one of the two did a ton of reading in high school (when we homeschooled). He read a lot as a kid. The non-homeschooled one may have some sort of reading thing going on, maybe undiagnosed dyslexia. He's never liked reading, though he liked being read to as a young child, but he's more of an action guy.

 

The one who is a voracious reader now has never been into screens, really. I didn't make screens available to her very much--she watched TV, but never got into gaming at all. I read a ton to her, too.

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We raised DD electronic toy/media free until about the age of 4, but she didn't start reading until age 5. (Yes, that means she never had an electronic toy, saw a movie or TV show, used a computer, or anything for the first 4 years of her life. DH and I both work in high tech but made a conscious lifestyle choice.)

 

At 11, she is pretty much completely disinterested in most forms of electronic media. Except for educational documentaries, she has seen maybe a dozen movies in her life (her choice at this point; we have practically forced her to watch the ones she has). We are a no TV family.

 

She has completely open access to an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook but she primarily uses them for school and limited email/text with friends and DIY YouTube videos, craft project ideas. She has only a passing interest in some games, like Sims or a couple on our Wii (like Just Dance). 

 

Technology is absolutely not her focus or high interest area. She even got a Kindle last Christmas and still prefers real books.

 

She's an avid reader, and it might very well be that it's because she has no interest in electronics, but that's correlational at best. I have no way of proving causation. DH and I are also very avid readers. I am constantly reading for pleasure, for work, for homeschool. DH is always reading. We have an ongoing family bookclub. Reading is part of our family lifestyle.

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I don't think it works this way. Some people are simply more compatible with books while others are compatible with screens. I am a great bibliophile; DH reads nothing except technical manuals and hobby-specific magazines. One child is just like me, one is just like DH, one is in between. All were brought up with a huge emphasis on books and reading. I limited screens a lot with my oldest two. One didn't care and would rather read or draw anyway. The other used up the allotted screen time before being "forced" to do something else.

 

Also, going back in time to when there were far fewer screens, DH's mother is a devout bibliophile and took them to the library, had "word of the day" games at dinner, and had the kids work a lot of farm chores daily. dH still did not latch onto books as a passtime, even though there were not screens available much, KWIM? So I don't think it has SO much to do with what you allow.

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I started to respond about 15 different times, but the question in the back of my mind is why do you ask?  Guilt?  Want to change? Curiosity?  It doesn't matter exactly what I did to encourage my kids to read if we're going to dwell in the past and wish it could be changed.  It can't happen.  I'm sure if you search bibliophile or 'love books' in the board you'll have lots of answers that come down to three things: limit the undesirable, push the desirable, and model the behavior.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but that's usually the basic formula to get optimal results.

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I started to respond about 15 different times, but the question in the back of my mind is why do you ask? Guilt? Want to change? Curiosity? It doesn't matter exactly what I did to encourage my kids to read if we're going to dwell in the past and wish it could be changed. It can't happen. I'm sure if you search bibliophile or 'love books' in the board you'll have lots of answers that come down to three things: limit the undesirable, push the desirable, and model the behavior. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but that's usually the basic formula to get optimal results.

So much guilt. So much anxiety. I'm worried about the job I've done as a homeschooler.

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Only 1 of my kids can actually read, but all 3 of my kids spend a lot of time looking at books.

 

I think part of it is that we just have a ton of them.  I only recently reduced our board books by about 1/2, and the ones remaining fill a large sterelite plastic bin, overflowing a bit.  I don't know how many that is... 40?  My kids have been handed books to look at from the moment they could sit up.  Then we have maybe a thousand picture books?  Too many to just fit in one place, so they're all over the house, which makes them convenient.  You can be in nearly any room in our house, and there are some nice picture books at kid-level for them to look at.

 

I think that part of it is that my oldest DD1 is a natural reader, and she models reading for the younger two.

 

I think it's partly because we restrict screen time.  Any of my kids would rather watch a TV show or play on the computer than read.  When we don't have that option, though, they're happy to read.

 

I think part of it is that I love bookstores, and so my kids spend a lot of time sitting on the floor of the kids department, looking at books.  That's how I was raised... my sister once famously said "a vacation is when you go to bookstores in other towns." :)

 

I dunno, I know that it's too early to tell, but I do love how much my kids love books.  I bought them a big artist retrospective type book about Ed Emberly the other day, and they've been obsessively reading it and copying the pictures.  They have entire Calvin and Hobbes strips memorized, and act them out.  It's really nice to see how important books are to them.

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My oldest (8) is an avid reader.  He got hooked on a series of books in first grade and devoured them and then just got hooked on reading all together.  My sister was exactly like that as a kid, nose in a book all.the.time.  I was the total opposite.   Anyhow, he also loves screen time (tv, Kindle, video games).

 

ETA: My youngest is still in the learning to read stage.  He enjoys books but has been slower (than his brother) to get the mechanics of reading.  I'm curious to see if he learns to love reading as much as his brother.

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This is going to be all over the place, answer-wise.

 

Personally, I see no correlation between children who are read to vs. those who aren't, regarding how much a child enjoys reading solo. I don't remember being read to at all as a child, but I love reading and always have; one of my other sisters loves to read as well, while the other two occasionally pick up a book, but not habitually.

My children have been read to since infancy. In fact, I often read aloud while I was pregnant, lol. My oldest only just recently started to enjoy reading, but still prefers other things (she's 14); my middle kiddo is 6 and a struggling reader, and I can't really see him enjoying books solo as he gets older. The youngest is "too young to tell." All three of the kids (including the 14 year old) still enjoy being read aloud to, though. 

Regarding screen time - I don't know that I see a correlation there, either. We didn't have much screen time as children (myself and my sisters) simply because the existence of electronics was limited - still, most of my sisters enjoyed playing outdoors or "other" play more than they enjoyed reading. 

 

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I definitely think there is a correlation between screen time and reading.  It's a modern-day dilemma.  What used to be a way to pass the time in-between other things (like school) -- reading, has now given way to screen time.  I love screen time myself!  But I also feel really sad about it too.  I hate how I sometimes opt to go online and kind of waste my time rather than picking up a good book and reading a chapter or even just a page, if that's all I have time for.

 

In our family, we allowed 20 minutes of screen time every 4 hours.  But even just 10 years ago, things were so different.  My kids are all in their 20's now, so when they were growing up, most families had just one big desktop computer and that was it.  People didn't even have cell phones, or if they did, they weren't smart phones.  So, it was so much easier to set that 20 minute limit then. 

 

That said, of our five children, one of them just never liked reading.  She still doesn't as a 22-year-old.

 

We valued reading above nearly everything!  Our Saturday outing was to the library.  We read all the time, to our children, on our own.  We talked about what we read, watched movies about what we read.  Our kids who ended up being devoted readers thrived on that.  But like I said, we had one who just never cared for it at all.  I have no idea why.

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There are many people in the world who will say that one of their favorite things to do is read. You will rarely find these people without a book, their homes are filled with books, they are often talking about a book they have read. Many people, but not all people. Others prefer to do something active, or to create something, or . . . whatever. Just because your (still relatively young) children don't walk around with books in their hands and prefer reading to all else doesn't mean that anything is amiss or that they will never be people who enjoy reading. But it might be the case that they just prefer other activities to reading.

 

My oldest has loved books from infancy. She read early and often, she reads in her spare time, her favorite place to go is the bookstore. This is not true of my younger two, who grew up in the same house filled with books, the same weekends-only screen time rule, and the same book-loving Mama. My middle would rather be writing a story than reading it, my youngest would rather be outside jumping on the trampoline. Yes it's fun to have a book-loving child. My daughter and I will share our love of books for our lifetimes. But my boys are just different people and I'm okay with that.

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I have two that have learned to read so far. Raised with the same amount of screen time, same amount of being read to, etc. One is way more likely to pick up a book during downtime than the other. I attribute it to personality. One is an introvert, the other an extrovert. One a dreamer, the other a tinkerer. One prefers more active play, the other prefers to snuggle.

 

That being said, the one less likely to pick up a book still does enjoy a good book, it just isn't the favorite activity. Maybe that's still personality. Maybe it's reduced screen time. Maybe it's that we read to our kids a lot. Maybe it comes from having stumbled on the right books to catch interest. Who knows?

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My (6 year old) daughter has had "her" own computer since she was 4, and an ipad that is functionally hers (we make a big point that it's Mommy's and I let her use it, but yeah) for the last year. Just a consequence of being the only child in a super high tech family. I limit her screen time but it's still more than a lot of people would allow. Several hours a week she's allowed to use the ipad to amuse herself while I am on conference calls. I have it locked down so she only has access to apps I permit but those include both fun apps and educational ones and I don't make her pick one over the other.

 

Her reading has just started to explode. Mostly she'd been fun-reading books that are below her skill level and I'm fine with that but I keep going in to wake her up and find her lying in bed reading. Yesterday she asked if it was "ok" to try to read Winnie-the-Pooh (above her skill level) on her ipad instead of playing a game while we were waiting for an appointment. Uh, yeah, that's totally fine with me. Confession, I haven't done nearly as much reading TO her as I think I should. Still lots but not the hours a day that my guilty conscience says. It was a struggle to make her try to read until she got confident with her phonics and now I can't keep her away.

 

I really think it's the kid. Some are just book kids, some aren't. Worrying about screen time is probably overrated. Then again, I do limit movies to a couple a month and no tv at all. I've always been of the opinion that tv time is far worse than interactive screen time...

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We are pretty heavy into screens here (play video games, are movie buffs, use iPads daily).

 

My oldest DD didn't become what I'd call a "reader" until she found a book series that she wanted to read on her own.  After that, she just grew in her skill and interest.  She was a late bloomer (halfway through 3rd grade before this happened, and reading on a 2nd grade level).

 

My kids don't read all day, but they love books, enjoy going to the library, like being read to.  

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You still have time! Here are some things I'd try if I were in your shoes:

 

Lots of rewards, all related to reading - let them stay up a bit later to read in bed, take trips to bookstores, libraries, and any book-related activities I could find. If I limited screen time, I would be careful not to link screen time to reading time, so that the kids don't think of reading as a chore.

 

I'd take time to help them learn what kinds of books they like, using Amazon suggestions, book lists, and librarians. I wouldn't worry about whether they were reading fiction or nonfiction, at least at first. I wouldn't even worry if they were exclusively reading Lego encyclopedias at first. I'd read the same books they were reading sometimes.

 

I'd read aloud to them, listen to audio books in the car, subscribe to magazines they might like, and get Playaways at the library (self-contained audio book players). I would talk to them about what I was reading. I would consider getting a Kindle, becoming stewards of a Little Free Library, or volunteering at a library book sale. We'd have family read-ins all over my bed or in the backyard.

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I think part of it is how our brains are wired. There was an article online a while back which I can't find now, but someone did a study which showed that avid readers, when they read, see what's happening in their minds and feel what the characters are feeling. Their bodies even release the chemicals tied to those emotions, like adrenaline or oxytocin. Non-readers don't tend to have these reactions. The question, of course, is do readers read more in the first place because they have these reactions and it makes reading more enjoyable, or do they develop these reactions because they read so much?

 

With that said, I think the most important thing you can do is to model reading. But you have to actually love it. You can't just pick up a newspaper at breakfast and call it good. Your kids have to see you putting off doing the dishes or staying up all night and being exhausted the next day because you just HAVE to finish this book. You really have to commit. ;)

 

Also, I think limiting screen time really helps. Watching tv and playing on the computer build a certain set of skills in the brain, but they aren't the skills that make it easier to read, like the ability to focus for long periods of time and the ability to imagine things vividly. The Shallows by Nicholas Carr goes into this in a lot of detail.

 

Letting kids read anything they want within reason helps too, imo. Twaddle is a gateway drug. When I was a kid I used to go to the library and get a huge bag full of Goosebumps and Sweet Valley Twins. I loved them, and I'd read my bag of books within a couple days. I think that played a huge part in me being such an avid reader now. If my mom had forbid me from reading them and had instead presented me with a carefully curated selection of old classics and historical fiction, I almost certainly wouldn't be a reader today. Older classics are more taxing to read, even when you love reading. With fun, light books, you can direct your entire focus to imagining and being present in the story. Even today, I usually alternate more challenging books with easier "palate cleansers."

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Both my kids, turning 10 & 11 soon, loves their ipads, kindles, laptops. They love to read too. They also love to build.

 

When we go to the library or bookstore, it is reading time. They just got used to it.

 

We do have to limit screen time before bed else they don't feel like sleeping.

 

I don't limit screen time but if they play too long, I tell them to read a book or do something else like knit, play a board game, cook.

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I have one who likes, but doesn't love, reading and one who loves reading.

 

My reader wrote an essay about his dream day, and it included hours of kindle reading, real books and a trip to the library and bookstore. Lol. This guy is 10. When he was not even walking yet he loved books. My mom used to read to him when he was seven months and he would be mesmerized for hours (not exaggerating). By four he had found a Magic Treehouse book in the back of my dad's car and started reading it. He had been given very little phonics instruction at that point. And he's the same way now, just loves to read. So I think some of it is just innate for some people.

 

For my so-so reader, I have tried really hard to provide books I think she will love. She reads well, with great intonation. But she gets bored quickly and needs to change up activities a lot. She just doesn't have the same interest. She did like being read to as a little kid.

 

My toddlers love to be read to. I hope they turn out to be readers too. 😊

 

We severely limit screens here, but not because we wanted to churn out readers.

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All three of mine love to read. I read a lot to them when they were little. Actually I read aloud to them until they hit middle school. My ds decided he could read faster on his own :) I love to read as well so they always saw mom reading books instead of watching TV. We went/go to the library once a week and they were/are allowed to pick their own books to read.

When they were little TV time was 1 hour (usually something educational from NPT, every now and then an age appropriate movie), computer time was no more than 30 min and it was also educational. Now  two of them spend 1-2 hours total on TV or/and computer daily if that much, some days no time at all. My ds likes computers so he spends more time but no more than 1 hour/daily. He would spend more time if he could but I don't let him.

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My oldest is my only solid reader, my 8.5 yr old is doing ok but not super confident yet and just now getting into books. My son has always loved stories, he could listen to them for hours so now he is the one to have a book in his hand and run through multiple 300+ pg novels a week plus numerous other little books, magazines etc. I think it is part personality for sure but screen time definitely has a negative effect, even my book loving son will slack on reading when given a free pass on screens, the temptation is too great and screens are too easy. I think the very first step is greatly cutting electronics- really a little fast is good to get them in a better frame of mind and really us as parents too, read books yourself, read to them, take them to the library, hunt down books on things you think they would like, try to figure out what genre they find interesting and give a little nudge here and there.

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My 8 year-old son loves to read and does so for several hours a day.  I don't think there are magic formulas or guarantees, but things that helped in our case (aside from the usual advice to limit screen time and read to toddler and preschoolers):  

 

 

1.  Lots of high quality audio books.  Listening to complex stories read by skilled narrators to build up attention span.  
 

2.  Designated reading time at night before bed.  I have an active boy who has a hard time stopping in the middle of the day. Having that unwinding period to read in bed is so helpful.   Morning and meal times often work too.

 

3.  I spend A LOT of time researching to find books and series that he might enjoy.  If its something I know he'll love I often read the first few chapters aloud to get him hooked.

4.  We use the Kindle Paperwhite.  We started this when he was younger because we could set the print size larger and he wouldn't be intimidated by the size of the book.  For whatever reason he still prefers to read most novels this way.  I use our our library's Overdrive system to check out books electronically for free so it doesn't get too expensive.  

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My dd always enjoyed reading, but ds never voluntarily read. I made it a non-negotiable daily activity and I choose the books (only because he couldn't be bothered, but with the advantage of being able to make sure when he does read, it's stuff that he will find highly enjoyable). After nearly 4 years it is finally obvious that he is really enjoying reading (we went to Ikea today and he walked around with a book reading as we went) although he will still opt for screen time over reading if given the choice.

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My 13 1/2 year just in the last few months has really started reading for pleasure/by choice, so it's not too late! He is number 4. The older ones had a required 2 hr rest time every day and no screens allowed. They could play quietly in the room they were in but my oldest (18) has told me he opted to read since he was so bored LOL. Worked out great :) 3rd is dyslexic but does still like to read.

 

I read aloud a lot. Usually 3 or 4 times a day to different groups based on age/availability. We have multiple chapter books going (school time/history plus a bedtime one etc) plus I read SOTW aloud and read for science.

 

My cd player is broken in my van but I used to do audio books all the time in the car. We do audiobooks a lot though. My7 year old isn't really reading yet but will listen to a book during rest time sometimes.

 

And when video games and TV are available that's all anyone does so we limit it severely. I hope they thank me later. Actually the older 3 have already. They see what too much gaming has done to kids they know.

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My boys are in that age range, and are not novel readers on their own. We do novels as audios, and I read aloud. We spend hours at the dining room table listening to books like we would watch a T.V. Show. They like using their hands to draw, do puzzles, work on lego sets, or almost any other quiet activity. We talk about the stories a lot, and reminisce about past funny situations in the books.

 

When we listen, I choose one book with a high reading level, like Lord Of The Rings, and pause to talk about what words/phrases mean. We also listen to other audios at the same time. A light/funny one at lunch, one in the car, and I read a chapter of a non-fiction/biography every day. There are lots of conversations on the similarities in books, themes, funny quotes, etc. no one is confused with multiple stories going on. We watch multiple sitcoms every week, and multiple story lines in books isn't usually a problem, either.

 

We go to the library every week, and I let them pick out graphic novels, science topics, comic books, whatever appeals to them (and is appropriate) they read fun or twaddle books in our down time, like the half hour before lights out.

 

I listen to the Read Aloud Revival podcast to keep enthusiastic and improve on my reading. I can't recommend this enough.

 

They are still not voracious readers who devour everything in print, but they are immersed in a literary rich family culture.

 

ETA: we do have a lot of screen time, also, but I try to do book time before any screen time. They still play video games

Edited by Outdoorsy Type
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Based on my limited experience with one reading kid, age four, I think there is a direct causation between imaginative ability/experience and enjoying reading. Even as an infant, we did a lot of storytelling even in ASL before he could talk, puppet shows, reenacting fairy tales and nursery rhymes, pretending to see stuff outside, making up stories about trees and such. As he's aged his imaginative playing has become similar in structure to a good story. Plus, it just makes sense that you could enjoy reading more, even non fiction, if you are better able to imagine the content.

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From my experience, it has little to do with screen time and is merely an individual personality trait.

 

DD11 enjoyed books from a very young age, she would make me read the same books over and over before she was even 2 years old. She wasn't an early reader but she is my most fluent reader and reads for pleasure. She will read slightly less if I allow her on her laptop too much but the desire to read is innate in her. Likewise, DD6 is the only other child I have who will bug me to go to the library to get books that she can read herself.

 

DS10 briefly read for a time at bedtimes but it was short lived. I gave up trying to pressure him. He's on the autistic spectrum and will only read things that interest him and doesn't like to re-read things either because he 'already knows what happens'.  

 

None of my other children are all that interested in books and they have all been exposed to them equally. Up until maybe two years ago we didn't even allow electronic devices so it had no bearing on their development or learning as they weren't bothered by books then and aren't now.

 

I enjoy books and always read as a child so I was pretty disappointed it didn't rub off on more of my kids.

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