Leading by Example: Parenting and Reading
Dan Tres Omi
If there is anything I learned about being a parent after 15 years of being a father, is that practicality works best. Like most scholars, I enjoy learning about the latest study or book on child rearing. Sometimes, it's good to know that the best practices my wife and I put into play are backed up by science. I will admit that sometimes, scientists and I don't see eye to eye. You know the adage: what's good for the geese may not be good for the gander.
Many parents ask me how we keep our children reading. I usually give them a set of practices we apply in our home to help make reading fun and engaging. Some of these work on some children and some of these don't work on some children. Every child is different and every child learns on different levels and degrees. Some children are visual learners and other are auditory. There are so many factors involved and when it comes down to it, each parent knows his or her child much better than anyone else does.
One thing everyone can agree on whether it's a neurologist or someone's grandmother from the old country is that children follow by example. If you ask them not to break the rules, and then you turn around and break them, they will do exactly as you do. So I don't hide when Jehovah Witnesses knock at my door.
If you want your children to read, the best practice is to pick up a book yourself. If anything, you should surround yourself with other readers and discuss books frequently around your children. Not only should you build them a library but you should have one yourself before they are even conceived. You want your children to grow up in a household where books and self education is part of the environment.
In my opinion, reading is like eating. It should be something that should be enjoyed, shared, and discussed. A book should be rated by it's nutritional value as well. So we have to watch what we read. All of our children read because my wife, my siblings, my friends, my co-workers, and I read. Our children also watch us discuss and exchange books with people all the time.
We visit book stores and libraries together and separately. We make a show of it. It's another safe haven for dialogue and a place for us to share information and special times with our friends and family.
So before you yell at your child for not reading, make sure you have a gang of books on your bookshelf. If you don't, put away those dvds and blu ray discs and start on that library. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
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