Reading for fun is literally becoming a pastime.
According to a recent report from Common Sense Media, American children are spending less time reading for pleasure than they were 30 years ago.
Looking at several national studies and databases, the report found that the percentage of 9-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week dropped from 81% in 1984 to 76% in 2013. There were even larger decreases for older children, with those numbers dropping from 70% to 53% among 13 year olds and 64% to 40% among 17 year olds.
The benefits of reading are undoubted.
“Reading is one of those things that actually improves kids’ academic success in all subjects,” said Caroline Knorr, parenting editor for Common Sense Media. “We also know that the ability to focus and have a distraction-free environment allows a kid’s concentration to flourish.
Indeed, the world is very different from the one children grew up in 30 years ago, too, with more distractions and arguably more homework vying for children’s attention.
Want to get your child to read more? Here are some tips from Common Sense Media:
Keep books in your home: Having books easily accessible is the first step in getting your child to read more. That includes both print books and e-books. According to Common Sense Media, recent studies say more than half of U.S. kids are reading digital books at least once a week.
Set aside time to read: According to the report, among children who are frequent readers, 57% of parents set aside time each day for their child to read, compared to 16% of parents of children who are infrequent readers.
Read yourself: By modeling good behavior, parents can encourage their own kids to read. “You’ve got to walk the walk,” said Knorr.
Help kids connect: If you can find a story line that your child may relate to, in anything from classics to graphic novels to bilingual books, that may encourage them to read more. “Kids will read what they’re interested in,” said Knorr.
Tie in movies: If you plan on watching the “Harry Potter” films or taking your kids to the next “Hunger Games” installment, have them read the books first — if they haven’t already. “You can then talk about what was different in the book versus the movie, and if the film got the characters right,” said Knorr.
Encourage “pocket reading”: There are forms of reading beyond books that can be of value. “If a full book is too daunting for your kid and they’re not going to read ‘Moby Dick,’ they may go on the Internet and read a Wiki about whales,” said Knorr. “There may be more value in [that] than we think.”