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Tips to keep kids interested in reading over the summer

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This may shock you, but a new survey shows that kids would rather play video games than read. As a parent who struggles to keep screen time to a miniumm (while also checking email on my iPhone every two minutes), it's a sad reminder of what many of us already know. According to a recent study by Sylvan Learning, reading is less popular than watching TV (75 percent of kids like this best), playing video games (68 percent) or playing outside with friends (65 percent).

Sylvan and the National Summer Learning Association, a non-profit whose mission is to end summer's brain drain, have released this list of tips to get or keep kids interested in reading while school's out: 

  • Browse your community library: More than 90 percent of students of all ages agree that they like reading books they choose themselves. Visit your library with your child and show them how to locate the books that they want to read.
  • Combine other favorite activities with reading: Reading ranks fifth on the list of children's favorite summer activities, so try combining it with other more popular ones. Do you drive your children to the pool on a regular basis? Make a stop at the library a regular part of your pool routine and check out a book, either for poolside reading or to unwind with after a day of physical activity.
  • Negotiate a reward: Put a value on reading by rewarding it. Work with your child to create a reading goal: for example, reading for a certain length of time every day or reading a certain number of books. Let them choose the books and the reward so they can “earn and learn.”
  • Get an e-book reader. Children love devices. With many e-book readers now available at well under $100, and e-books available at prices comparable or less than hard-copy books, it may be worth investing in technology that today's tech-savvy youth prefer. Moreover, thousands of e-books can either be downloaded free or "borrowed" at no charge from local libraries.
  • Use those movie-book tie-ins: When film companies base a movie on a book, they also make sure to publish a new "tie-in" edition of that book with a movie scene on the cover. Linking a book to a movie also makes your job easier. Show children how they can enjoy their favorite on-screen stories by reading, as well as watching.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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