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Getting Kids off Screens and into Books

We all know that a lot of young people are exposed to more screen time than they should be. At the same time, children and teens are spending less time reading. In fact, in a recent report from Scholastic Kids and Family Reading, 75 per cent of parents with children aged 6-17 said they wished that their child would engage in more screen-free activities.

Tech games may be fun, but they rarely open up a child’s mind to imagination and literacy.

Gemma Brown, Literacy Coordinator

It’s no secret that children are often exposed to more screen time than they should be. So, how can we encourage our young people to swap their devices for the original hand-held device – books?

Reading increases vocabulary, fluency and creativity while also teaching punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. Tech games can be fun, but they rarely open up a child’s mind to imagination and literacy.

Get to know your child and where their interests lie. By finding the style of book your child enjoys and providing easy access to those books, you are increasing the chances of them developing a passion for reading and choosing to pick up a book. Nearly three-quarters of young people aged 6–17 (74 percent) responded to the Scholastic Kids study by saying that they would read more if they could find more books they liked.

Don’t always force your child to read new books. If there is a particular book or series they enjoy, let them build confidence in re-reading. Talk to them about what’s happening in the book and get involved – share their interest.

With younger children, you can get further involved and read with them – taking on a role or a page each. They are more likely to enjoy reading if they see others enjoying it.

If your child has a question – about how something works, for example – try to avoid turning to the internet for the answer every time. If you have the time, take them to the library and look up the answer, or find it in a book you already have at home. This demonstrates that books are a great source of knowledge.

DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read) is a strategy parents can adopt to take some time out of the chaotic technology-driven day to relax and read. If kids are able to control the time and the text they’re reading, it encourages them to develop a consistent reading behaviour – even better if they see you reading at the same time.

Get your child involved in school activities such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge. Kids can be competitive, so this is a fun way to get them searching for new books and track their progress. And, if they go out on an excursion – such as to a writers’ festival – show your interest and ask them what they did and what they learnt.

Lastly, look out for local community events. Your local library might have author reading sessions, or the council could have an illustrator running workshops and talking about their stories.

There are so many ways to spark children’s interest in reading, so get to know what makes your child tick.