Getting Kids To Read: Tips for Tearing Children Away from Electronics and Back to Books.

NH Lifestyle Articles: Getting Kids To Read


Getting Kids to Read
Tips for Tearing Children Away from Electronics and Back to Books

by Caroline Brewer
Getting some children engaged in reading is not an easy feat. As a Social Worker working with around fifty at-risk youth on a daily basis, I have seen students whip out electronics to immerse themselves in the world of technology to avoid or ignore their world around them. If I suggest reading a book rather than allowing them to play games for hours on electronics such as their Nintendo DS players, I receive wild-eyed looks of horror. Some children plead and barter with me to avoid reading a book as they clutch their precious electronics to their chests.

The reality of having to force children to read appears to be the norm. Jimmy C. of North Haverhill, NH explains: "I have noticed a trend in children being used to constant stimulation and they are definitely not used to using their imaginations, which is vital to reading books. Sadly, if given the choice, a kid would probably choose spending time on a computer, IPAD, cell phone for texting, or their Nintendo DS, rather than choose a book to read for entertainment." Though this outlook seems bleak, there are things educators, parents, counselors, and peers can try to encourage reading over electronics.

  • Reading groups might be an effective plan to get kids engaged in reading, especially with teenagers, who are greatly influenced by their peers. Thanks to authors like JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, and Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy, children have been reading more. Teachers and parents can also read these books, which are stimulating and enjoyable to adults, in order to connect with their child and have an easy topic to discuss any time.

  • Limiting their child's technology use to no more than an hour and beginning to add reading to the bedtime routine suggests Becca F., of northern NH: "For families on a budget, there are always stores like Goodwill and thrift stores to find books at a bargain price," she continues, "and of course there are local libraries where books can be borrowed for free." Families can make a weekly trip to borrow or purchase new reading material.

  • Finding a quiet place to read can help an overstimulated child. Matt O. of Lisbon, NH asserts: "Kids definitely need limits on technology; there is no reason for them to possess gadgets all day long. I was fortunate to live in the woods and have nature around me to spend time in." If there are no woodland areas to be found, perhaps a peaceful corner of a room would suffice.

  • If the previous tips on getting kids back to reading do not work, perhaps a compromise in buying a Kindle or using iBooks might do the trick. In an age of pervasive electronics, maybe a child would feel more secure reading while being able to continue using their opposable thumbs. However, this option might be more feasible for a family of means and may not be realistic for families on a budget. Check out for a list of price ranges on these devices.

    Using positive modeling is always effective in getting kids to read. When I tell my students they must put their technology away and get out their reading materials, I do the same. The last thing a child wants to see is an adult being a hypocrite. In truth, the best part of my day is scheduled reading time. The day gets better when a child complains that reading time is over.


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