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Make Readers of Your Future Leaders

By Colleen Langenfeld

Everyone wants their kids to do well. To that end, we educate them, hover over them and spend lots of time and money guiding them into a future with no guarantees. This is all good stuff, but sometimes it's easy to overlook the simple things that can offer big results for small investments.

Like reading.

Are your kids readers? Are you?

Study after study has shown that kids who are readers do better in school, have broader areas of interest and just plain enjoy learning more than their non-reading peers. With data like that, it's an easy decision to make readers out of your future leaders.

Great reasons to be a reader
Need to convince them? Here's a few things to share with them.

It's cool to have a library card. Why depend on everyone else for all the answers? People who enjoy reading and can find their way around a library can locate their own solutions. In the human experience, whatever a person is going through, someone else has encountered it and wrote about it. Independent, thinking kids can research their own answers as well as discuss their findings with the adults in their lives.

Newspapers and magazines count. To be an “official” reader, your child doesn't have to drag through a classic every month. The number one rule here is: make it fun! Books are great, but they are only one resource for you and your children. Help your child find a magazine that appeals to an interest or hobby they have and then subscribe. Kids love getting something in the mail each month and a magazine is portable enough to throw in a backpack.

Discover the movies/plays connection. That latest flick started somewhere, as a screenplay or a book. No one would have made a movie about it had they not first sat down and thrilled over its pages. Challenge them: what other blockbuster stories are your kids missing by not reading?

Throw a reading party. Many schools and libraries are already doing this with great success. A
“ Read and Feed” means bringing a good book, a pillow, a snack and stretching out on the floor for a couple of hours. There are a lot of adults that would love this one!

Read aloud for mastery. Have a struggling reader? Remind him we all started out that way. No
big deal. Encourage 10 minutes a day reading aloud to a younger sibling, a pet or Mom or Dad. This practice can make a big difference in reading skills, plus boost self-esteem.

Bring books to life. Remember Dr. Seuss' classic, Green Eggs and Ham? Many a mom has
dribbled a little green food coloring in with some scrambled eggs to the delight of her preschooler!
Reading about castles? Get some discarded refrigerator boxes and build your own castle! Wondering if you have a budding scientist? Get a book about simple science experiments you can do at home and work a few with your youngster. Watch for her excitement and you'll discover her interests firsthand.

Establish a new treat. Doling out rewards for a job well done? Include a trip to the local bookstore as one of the prizes. Owning their own books raises the books' value in your child's perspective. Reading a book series and reveling in the anticipation of waiting for the next book to be released is a wonderful thing!

Encourage writing. Over and over again, we hear how new graduates in the workplace simply
don't know how to write. While strong writing skills take time and effort, the foundation is a good set of reading skills. Quite often, young readers are inspired to write their own stories after reading an exciting tale written by someone else. Encourage their writing efforts, showing them how they can open a powerful communication channel with others by mastering writing skills.

Learn a new hobby. Has your child always wondered what it would be like to fly model
rockets? Do you have a youngster who wishes she had a pet, but you're not sure she's ready? Start out with a book; check for continued interest and build from there.

Be a reader yourself. Nothing works in parenting like modeling. If you love sports and
indulge in athletics regularly, chances are great your children will, too. The same goes for any area of interest, including reading. This is the easiest, most pain-free parental decision you can probably make.

Of course, look for age-appropriate material for your child and don't be afraid to offer some suggestions (ask your local librarian for lists of age-appropriate books if you're unsure of where to start.). Switch the TV off and simply read together one or two nights a week and you might be delighted with the results!

© Colleen Langenfeld

Colleen Langenfeld delivers deals, tips and creative resources to working moms who want the most out of their homes, families and careers at

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