Recent research found that a third of U.S. teenagers aren’t reading for pleasure. It’s an awful statistic, but not a particularly surprising one.
Kids today have unparalleled access to the internet, with social media feeds, Youtube videos, and games all vying for their attention. It’s no wonder they don’t find the time to pick up a good book.
The reason we’re thinking about this is because July 31st marks Harry Potter’s birthday. The beloved boy who lived will turn 39 this year.
And so we thought we’d explain some reasons why your kids should be reading more, and how to encourage them to pick up a book.
Communication is a crucial skill for your kids to develop. In a world dominated by text and instant messaging, finding the right words to say is more important than ever.
Reading from a young age helps to expand your child’s vocabulary. This means they’ll be better able to communicate their thoughts, a skill which is invaluable in the workplace.
A larger vocabulary also works wonders for your child’s self-confidence, as they learn to explore and understand the world around them.
As robots continue to take more of our jobs, creativity is going to become one of the most useful traits for a person to have.
Creativity helps you to innovate and dream up new ideas, and is a crucial component of problem-solving.
Contrary to popular belief, everyone can learn to think creatively. A good way of developing creative thinking is through using your imagination.
A good book prompts your child to use their imagination, as they visualise the fictional worlds and characters in their heads.
Harry Potter Fact #1: It’s estimated that somebody in the world starts reading the Harry Potter series every 30 seconds.
75% of mental health conditions are established by the time a person first reaches adulthood. In other words, they develop when we’re kids.
Two of the key factors that cause mental health issues in children are stress and anxiety. Childhood is a cocktail of peer pressure, self-esteem issues, and stressful exams.
It’s no wonder that children are becoming increasingly ill.
Tucking into a great book can work wonders for your child’s mental health. It allows them to escape from the real-world for a while, and can be incredibly calming.
Putting aside all the health and life benefits for a second, perhaps the best thing about reading is that it’s fun.
Once your kids get started with a book, they’ll immerse themselves in a new world. They’ll imagine everything playing out in front of them.
It’s like a movie where your kids are the director. It can be exhilarating, funny, sad. It takes them on a rollercoaster ride.
Reading is fun, and that should be reason enough to start.
Harry Potter Fact #2: If it weren’t for 8-year-old Alice Newton, the daughter of the chair of Bloomsbury Publishing, loving the first book, Harry Potter would never have become such a phenomenon.
If your child doesn’t read much, those reasons above are unlikely to actually inspire them to pick up a book. They’re going to need a nudge in the right direction.
A common barrier that prevents kids from reading is simply a lack of access to books. Luckily, there’s a tragically underrated source of books near you: The library.
Libraries are great. They have all sorts of books, for all tastes and ages. The best part? Your child can access all of these books for free!
Why not pop into your local library with your child? They could talk to the librarian about the kind of things they’re interested in. The librarian will be more than happy to provide some suggestions.
A library has a magical feel to it, and if there’s a place where your child will fall in love with reading it’s going to be there.
If your child is reluctant to get started with a book, you should consider reading the first few pages or chapters to them.
Reading aloud is more accessible for kids who are unsure about reading. It’s a great way to dip their feet into the water.
You could stop at a crucial point in the story, where they’ll be dying to know what comes next. If they want to know, then they’ll have to read on themselves.
Reading to your child is a good way of introducing them to reading on their own, and it’s a great way of spending quality time together.
Harry Potter Fact #3: J.K. Rowling once explained that if she needed to tell her readers something, she would often have Hermione say it, because chances are she would’ve read it somewhere.
When there’s so much going on in your kids’ lives, it can be hard to find time for reading. That’s why you need to make time.
It doesn’t need to be a long time; 15-20 minutes is enough. But it needs to be regular, and set in stone. You might even find that 20 minutes turns into 2 hours!
To really hammer home the idea that this is a time for reading, you should read as well. Sit in a room together, put your gadgets away, and just read. That way you’ll get all the benefits too!
In the grand scheme of things, half an hour of reading a day isn’t much. But the benefits it provides will last a lifetime.
A great way of avoiding all of the distractions in the house — the TV, the Playstation, the iPad — is to have a dedicated reading space.
A cosy, little reading nook transforms reading from another normal task into something a lot more special.
Spend some time with your child designing the perfect space for them. Make it private, comfortable, and somewhere your child will want to spend time.
A reading spot to call their own might just be the nudge your child needs to start reading.
Establishing a love of reading in your kids could be the first chapter of an incredible story.
It can make them more confident, less stressed, and help them develop the skills needed to thrive in the modern world.
Why not start them off with Harry Potter?