Reading for enjoyment at home and in your spare time used to be the norm in most families. Today there are too many things competing with the book. Many moms, dads, and kids neglect reading for fun and consider it a task to complete for school or work. Let’s learn how to develop a culture of reading in families, schools, and churches.
The culture today is into smartphones, iPads, and gaming devices. Many kids spend hours entertaining their hearts and minds away in the digital world. I mean you can even watch TV on your phone or iPad.
Sometimes it just seems easier, because you can chill and not think. Many of these distractions become an addiction. Our brains say do it again, and again and again. Marketing has got us.
It was the same when I was growing up in the ’80s. We were the TV generation. After school TV shows, and nightly sitcoms were how we filled our minds during free time. In all reality, I don’t remember schools requiring so many books to be read per semester as they do now.
My sisters who are both librarians at schools have said, “since students started school online at home, we can send any books home for kids to read and they are not taking advantage of it”. Some schools deliver books to the doorstep, and they don’t request them. The kids don’t even realize what a blessing they have been given.
The teachers are so busy with added technology for home teaching they don’t have time to promote new books. Parents are so busy running life from home for their kids and work that they don’t even realize what they are missing or what their kids are missing. This is not the case for every family.
Culture of Reading
In looking at the past compared to now, I can say we need to treasure our stories and books and promote them to our families/kids and each other. We need to promote a culture of Reading.
Get excited about reading books and share your reading experiences with others.
Reading fosters many things in your life that you don’t even realize are developing within you.
- Books give you a sense of timelessness. Stop, pick up a book and start reading and you are now in a new world or thought process you may never get into another way. If you could spend more time with friends, your conversations may take you there, but now our time with friends has been cut out by the virus.
- Reading allows your imaginations to take place in a book through the descriptions the author places on the page about people, places, or time. In a nonfiction book, you can learn insights and truths about a variety of subjects that may not be covered at school, work, or church.
- While you are reading you are improving your reading and writing skills. The more you read, the better you get at reading for skill and comprehension. Subconsciously you pick up new vocabulary words, how a conversation looks on paper, how to introduce a new character or describe a new character. If you ask an author about what helped them the most in writing books, they would say reading.
- Reading also introduces you to new ideas, mindsets, races, cultures, prejudices, and judgments. Things will come up in a story that you may never talk about at school, home, work, or church.
For example, a book called Number the Stars by Louis Lowry is a book written for kids. Our 3rd-grade student/parent book club read this book and discussed it together. The holocaust theme may never have been discussed within that age group unless a book was read and discussed. It opened the eyes of history to many of the kids.
How to Develop a Reading Mindset and Culture of Reading
This reading mindset and culture starts small. It may just start with your family and then move on to others.
1. Family Read Aloud Time
In the evening consider having a 20-30 minute read-aloud time in the family. This is a great way to showcase some books you have always wanted to read. I always had wanted to read the Narnia series growing up and never did, so I read the whole series to my kids after supper, or around a campfire in the summer, or driving on a road trip.
Have your kids take a turns reading out loud to you for 20-30 minutes a night. Yes, have your high school kids do this too. Take turns reading and then discuss each chapter.
2. Set Reading Goals
In the summer I would have my kids sets their own reading goals for summer. How many books they would read or how many minutes a day. After your family has accomplished the goal of reading. Share your reading culture with your friends.
3. Book Clubs for Kids and Adults
Start a neighborhood book club or a 3rd-grade book club. The book club happened once a month during recess. After a quick lunch, the kids gathered in a room with parents and ate a snack, and discussed the book with the teacher/kids and Parents. This could easily be student and parent lead after school, at another time or even in the summer
If meeting in person is a problem plan a zoom book club once a month with your friends or your kid’s friends or even neighbors. It’s a way to socialize and learn something at the same time.
I love how in these groups; someone always teaches me something that I never got out of the book.
At work, you could start a book club during a long lunch break. Or at church small groups you could discuss a Christian book along with the Bible. Better yet, the Bible is a book and you could discuss a chapter a week or a book of the Bible each week.
4. Read in Your Free Time
Pretend you left your phone at home and take your books with you in the car to read as you wait in the car or for an appointment. Don’t let your time scrolling take away your reading time.
My sister Diane, who is a School Media Specialist, says this-
“I think it is really important as a librarian to advertise and market books. Kids, parents, and teachers love to hear about book titles that they should read. A lot of people don’t read book reviews or listen to book podcasts and so they don’t know what to read. I read and listen to lots of them and end up with a long list of books I would like to read.”
“I feel it is my mission to read a lot of books and tell everyone about them. Writing short book reviews helps me remember what I have read. My posts are usually books I like. I post them on Facebook and Instagram. I am so happy when people find the book reviews useful.” Link to her book blog. Blog on Librarians Favorite Books.
Diane continues, “One of the best things I have done is sign up for Book of the Month. Each month I can pick a book from a list of 5 new releases that I would like them to send me. The cost is 14.99. A brand-new hardcover book is sometimes twice that amount. I have been reading more new releases this way. And, it supports authors. Even though the library has a lot of books for me to borrow, I don’t mind buying books to support authors and their writing careers.”
Culture of Reading Idea List
- Give kids books for gifts and encourage them to read.
- Have a set time every day to read: before bed, after school, in the car. (For Adults and Kids)
- Go to the library and check out books.
- Buy books at book fairs.
- Read aloud in the family: Listen to books in the car. Use Audible or get CDs from the library. For older elementary: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Younger elementary: Little House on the Prairie books.
- Start Book clubs in school, neighborhoods, and youth groups
- Libraries should always promote reading.
- Encourage businesses to support reading at work breaks or in the community.
- Start Book groups mixing elderly and youth.
- Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly reading goals
- Start a new book series for an adult level or middle age level.
- Talk about new books you have read with others.
New Habits Start a Culture of Reading
As you can see, a culture of reading starts with one new habit change in you or your family and changing the way we spend our time each day. Reading becomes a sort of addiction in its own way. The need to get the book done, because it is so good, or you have to get it back to the library in a week.
Don’t neglect books and start reading one book at a time. Reading is fun. How will you start a culture of reading? How to develop a culture of reading in families, schools, and churches.
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