Bringing the Wow Factor to Reading - Inspiring a Love of Literature
by Amie Butchko
I have loved literature since I was in the 3rd grade and learned how to write a haiku. My teacher truly encouraged me and what a difference that made, as any child shines in the light. I just knew words were for me. There have been few things in my life that have inspired me more than this love of words. In college, I studied Christina Rossetti, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas and T.S. Elliot. I delighted in Shakespeare’s Othello and in Poe’s The Raven. I marveled at how symbolisms of religion, fertility, death and life, can all blend singularly into one work.
Now, as a mom, I freelance write. However, I have little time to revel in what really makes my heart sing. I always thought, “I will teach my children to love these things…” Yet, motherhood and the moment often dulls my better intention.
You see, as I found when teaching high school English, sometimes kids just don’t get it – or want to. They just don’t connect. As the bells and whistles of technology take over our world, it is more so. So, here I’ve made a list for all us “readies” out there with small children. How do we inspire the next generation with a fire for literature (if only to spark some initial appreciation for the greats, perhaps to be fleshed out later in life)?
Ways to Bring the Wow Factor to Reading
1. Bring out the Grimm. The fairy tales, that is. The ones that are dark, oh so dark, for our slightly older children. Tell them ghost-story style, around the fire pit with a side of Edgar Allen Poe. These chilling tales will deliver as they are scary and kids love scary.
2. Host a child-produced play at your next family vacation. Each year, my family gets together in Cape Cod for a few nights. There are fifteen grandchildren in all that attend, ranging from 14 to a year old. The girls, each year, organize and produce a talent show which gave me this idea. Give a group of kids a book, and simply tell them to turn it into a play. Let them work on the rest - from reading to doling out the roles to practicing for a day or more. When they have had ample time, hang a curtain in a doorway, or set up lawn chairs in the yard for all the adults to watch. Make popcorn, give them poetic license and see what they can create along with great memories!
3. Go to a local book signing. I live in a town where there are many child-tailored events. Our local tea room has book signings for children’s books. Taking kids to something special like this can definitely inspire them to be a reader or can impress them toward the idea of becoming a writer. The book they receive will certainly become a favorite.
4. Frequent the library. With all the hustle, bustle, playdates and extracurricular activities, there is barely time to settle into a quiet spot and read. I find that a family trip to the library can be just the thing my kids need to set their focus on a book. Something about letting them choose their own, and the quiet and comfort of the children’s room, makes it that much more of an inviting prospect for them. Surprisingly, they will check out more books than they can possibly get through in the allotted time! As well, you will find, that many a local library has fun children events centered around inspiring a love of reading. All you need to do is a little research and then, attend. Sign up for a story-time group, watch a puppet show… these are just a few surprises your library may have up its sleeve.
5. Use technology to your advantage. Before a child can develop a love of learning, he must first learn to read. If you find you can’t get your child away from the computer on a rainy day, use it to your advantage. There are learning sites that turn reading into games, with bright color and animations that delight. You child will hardly know he or she is doing something good for themselves. Try interactive sites like FunBrain.com, Interactive Learning Sites for Education, or ABCya.com to name a few of my children’s own favorites.
6. See the movie. If all else fails, see a movie based on a classic. At least your child will learn the literature and maybe even become interested in comparing it to the written version or find a series they may want to explore further in print. Maleficent is a good place to start, or try The Fault in Our Stars, Ender’s Game and the Harry Potter movies. You could share the book in a family read-aloud first, and then make a parent-child movie night out of the big screen version as a fun family activity and/or tradition in the making.
7. Read to your kids. I know this is about bringing the WOW, but for me, there is nothing as wonderful as reading aloud to your kids. If it is not something you frequently do, you’re missing out. Older siblings can do it with younger siblings as well. It is a bonding moment and given the right book, can be an almost sacred happening. Use a kindle, grab a hammock, read by candlelight when the power goes out, or just fireside on a winter night. I bet your child won’t get bored. In fact, slowing down is so out of the ordinary nowadays, creating focused one-on-one time may be the most surprising thing to happen in ages.
Bio: Amie Butchko is a freelance writer in Warwick, NY, United States, where she lives with her husband and three children. She writes on topics ranging from education to parenting to medicine to religion. You can read her works at http://amiebutchko.hubpages.com/.
(Image credit: Morguefile.)