How do you keep your child interested in reading when they’re attracted to so much technology?

What is it that’s keeping your kids busy at home these days? Is it TV? Or maybe computers, video games, ipods, blackberries…the list seems to go on and on.

If you’re serious about raising a reader (and think of the benefits of that!), here are my top five suggestions to keep them reading through the years.

  Get your child a library card of their own. Take them to the library frequently so they can choose their own books to read.

  Find books about stuff they are really interested in. Is your child all over soccer these days? There are LOTS of stories about soccer and other sports! Animals, babysitting, mysteries, dramas, comedies…the list is endless.

  Start a weekly Family Reading Hour! We’ve had family game night for years…how about dedicating one hour a week in which the entire family sits down to read. Together or individually, this can be a great way to show your kids that you feel books are important too.

  Listen to audio books when you’re on the go. What a great way to bond together by listening to the same book in the car when you’re carting the kids off to practice. You can engage your child’s thoughts about what you’ve just listened to. It’s an easy way to integrate books into your everyday routine!

  Go ahead and buy them an eReader. There’s a new trend in parents buying eReaders for their kids, and these days it’s becoming more affordable to do. What a great way to blend technology and reading! With so many options available, it can be hard to choose the right one for you and your child. The top three in Canada are the Kobo eReader, Amazon Kindle, and Sony eReader. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them manufacture devices targeted to young readers within the next couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong – I know it’s not easy to foster a love of reading in a child. I spoke to Lahring Tribe, who is the School, Library & Academic Marketing Manager here at Random House, and this is what she had to say:

There is an element of work and commitment to encouraging reading.  Kids imitate what they see – if they see parents reading, they will be more inclined to read themselves. 

There are few things more excruciating than sitting beside a beginning reader as they struggle to decode their first words, but it has to be done – and cheerfully.  As adults, we forget how hard it was to master the necessary skills to read fluently – and in our pressured and time-crunched world, it isn’t always easy to be patient, as a child learns to read, or earlier, when their desire to be read to can interfere with our need to have a few minutes of personal downtime.  We tend to get other people to teach our kids to dance and sing and swim and play sports – reading is something we can keep for ourselves as a bonding bridge. 

Sure, it’s easier to plunk a screen into a child’s hands, but that takes us as parents out of the equation, which is regrettable.  Now that my son is 22, I am profoundly glad that he had me trained to drop what I was doing and read to him whenever he approached me with a book in his hand as a pre-schooler.

I’d love to know -- what are some of the ways that you foster a love of reading in your home? Leave a comment below!