Reading is one of those things that many of us do regularly and take for granted, but we have to remember that not everyone is able to have a great bookish upbringing. The way that reading is taught varies greatly and some families struggle with their literacy skills and therefore don’t pass on a love of reading to their children.
Just as I was about to include the word ‘kids’ in the blog title, I realised that what I am about to say applies to adults as well. Myself, I lost interest in reading during my teenage years and my fascination was re-ignited in my early twenties.
Do you know someone that you would love to encourage to read more?
Here are my five tips for getting someone to begin to engage with books.
1) Share your love for books
It feels odd saying that because I think that anyone who genuinely loves reading cannot help but to share their enthusiasm about what they read. I find myself talking about recent books that I have read with friends, family and colleagues all the time. The trouble is, everyone likes different things and the person you are promoting reading to may be quickly put off if you are too over-the-top about the topic. Alternatively, you may be barking up the wrong tree.
For example, if someone is a reluctant reader and you are spooling on about romance novels, whereas they are only likely to engage with the subject of reading if you spark their interest with a sci-fi reference, then all of your words are wasted.
Children can become reluctant readers early on these days because they have so many distractions such as iPads and games consoles. With this age group, you may need to begin with stories that are electronic. It may require some give-and-take at first. Perhaps you can agree that if they enjoy a chapter of a book with you, you will then sit and allow them to show you a game or something that they are particularly motivated by.
2) Make it intriguing
Recently, if I’ve found myself discussing a book with a colleague and someone else had been in the room at the same time, I’ve noticed that more often than not, the other person has started to become intrigued by the book we were discussing. It happens with TV shows too. I remember recently discussing the Kate Winslet drama, ‘Mare of Easttown’ and creating enough buzz for others to be actually compelled to check out the series so they could join in the chat.
Similarly, I have heard friends talking about a narrative and decided to check it out on Goodreads, then sampled a first chapter or two. This has led to an even longer TBR (to be read) list for me. Twice recently I have had friends ask to borrow books that they’ve seen me rave about on Facebook, so social media can play a massive part in promoting a love of reading, especially within a group of friends.
3) Don’t compete
Trying to outdo another hobby or make reading seem like a better alternative will never work. You will never convince a footballer to give up football in order to star reading books. However, you may eventually persuade them to start reading stories which have football settings. This inlet could even lead to them becoming more engrossed in books and trying out other genres.
4) Make it fun
This point mainly relates to young people because it involves incentives. I wouldn’t suggest bribery with sweets but it may be fun to bring the book to life a little. For instance, a book about the great outdoors, such as ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ (by Michael Rosen) could be linked to a day out in a nature reserve for a picnic.
There are so many ways you can bring a book to life if you use your imagination. You could make a little factory out of boxes and practise wrapping chocolates in the style of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, by Roald Dahl. A little quiz could follow the reading of the last chapter and prizes could be awarded for inference skills and creative answers.
5) Book clubs
I suppose this one sounds quite obvious because we hear so much about book clubs. These can include face-to-face gatherings of like-minded book lovers or associations through social media groups. In a way, even Goodreads can be considered a book club.
Children get to share a good book usually as part of a class at school, but even they can get involved in online reading schemes and apps which encourage interacting with books and posting their thoughts about them.
For me, it is quite a small scale thing in that I have a couple of friends who tend to read the same book as me at roughly the same time. We let each other know where we’ve got to and often have to wait for each other to catch up before we move on. Sometimes the tension is too much and we speed ahead of each other without confessing that we already know the ending. It is fun to discuss books that we are reading at the same rate and we have great debates about character’s choices.
Due to Covid, meeting up for actual book club meetings has been limited so many of these groups went online. But the point I am making is that there is a chance that if you get a reluctant reader to attend a book club session, you may find they are drawn into reading, even if just because they want to be nosy and visit each of the members’ houses to check out the interiors.
I hope that this article has made you think about how to encourage others to read. While not being an exhaustive list, I wanted to share some ideas that I know can actually work. Reading is powerful and a lovely skill to do in company as well as in a quiet place. I feel strongly about passing on a love of literature and hope that you will too.
Here is a link to a previous blog post that a I write about reading: https://jamieadstories.blog/2021/06/14/are-you-an-overthinking-reader/
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