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Step 7: Digital competition

A video game offers instant excitement and gratification. TV provides escapism without any effort. The internet is a fascinating source of tidbits of information and endless distractions without the need for in depth research. A book, on the other hand, requires time, effort and the ability to concentrate before you can sink into the story. No wonder publishers are struggling so much!

The only way I have found to compete with digital distraction is to regulate them strictly. Theoretically, my boys are only allowed 30 minutes of screen time a day: in practice this usually turns to 90 minutes, because I have two boys. When one plays his allotted video game time, the other watches... there goes an hour. Then, as a reward for particularly good behavior, my husband will give them 15 minutes of "extra" time. Though I don't particularly approve of this, it does make piano practice a bit less painful... Rules are necessary, but bending the rules once in a while is important too. The basic principle is they should never be allowed to have more screen time than reading time. They want to watch a show on TV? Fine. Read a book for thirty minutes, then watch your half hour show. You do need to be careful with this approach however, because you run the risk of turning reading into a chore. I find it easier just to say "no TV, you've already used up your time" but if they propose the reading exchange deal I will sometimes agree to it.

Another way of regulating digital consumption is through home design. Never put a TV in a kid's room. Don't put a computer in a kid's room or store the portable gaming devise in there either. All these devises should be in the shared space of the house where you can monitor their use. When you give the child a time out, send him (or her) to a space which contains only books or physical toys.

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<p>err, you mean you can read those things... turns and looks at all of those dusty pages holding up the bed frame. </p>
<p>Good point! I forgot to mention some of the more practical physical applications for books. They are also ideal for fixing wobbly tables.</p>
<p>How To Turn Your Kids Into Bookworms</p><p>Step 1: Turn off wifi. </p><p>Step 2: Eliminate data plan on mobile devices. </p><p>Step 3: Get off grid. </p><p>Step 4: Threaten to not buy food until they finish a chapter from Moby Dick.</p><p>Step 5: Hide the knives.</p><p>OR</p><p>Read to them when they're little, and read with them when they're older.</p>
#5 is a good one, and particularly important if following suggestion #4! But your alternative suggestion of continuing to read with/to them when they're older is definitely worth highlighting. As my boys have turned into teens, they read much less than they used to -- even when we're off the grid. But last summer I managed to spend many enjoyable hours reading &quot;To Kill a Mockingbird&quot; to them. Once kids learn to read on their own, parents (myself included) too often get busy and give up that time-consuming activity. It is a shame because reading aloud together is much richer experience than simply consuming a book alone.
<p>Nice 'ible.</p><p>I've always been a reader. My mother always read a lot. My grand-mother would buy boxes of books at yard sales and read every book in the box. She was one that never stopped part way through a book. No matter how bad it was, she always finished any book she started.</p><p>My kids both love reading and read a lot. They saw me and my wife reading a lot, and kids imitate. Although their reading has tapered off since they have reached their teens. But I feel that since they love reading, they will keep reading their entire life.</p><p>You mentioned electronic books. There are many books available for free on Amazon. Some are the first book of a series that the author or publisher wants get people reading the entire series. Some are self published books that the author puts out for free for a couple of days to gain readership. I'm sure there are dozens of reasons for them being free. These are often relatively unknown authors and some aren't very good, but you often find some pretty good books for free. There are a bunch of blogs that link to the free books of the week.</p>
Yes, and there are also older classics (books no longer in copyright) which you can get for free.
<p>There sure are. I have pulled down many classics for free. Sometimes you have to deal with odd formatting.</p>
This is a lovely Instructable, but I have to ask -- what's with imposing your tastes on your kids? Are the Manga books teaching lessons about the way people are or the way the world works that you don't want your kids learning -- and if so why are you allowing them in the house at all? I mean, if it's just that the stories aren't sophisticated enough for you, people used to say the same thing about Jane Austen, back when reading 'modern' fiction at all was considered vapid. It seems like part of being a bookworm is having control over what you choose to read and discover. <br><br>If my parents had directed my reading the way you describe, I would have dutifully (I was one of the backward dutiful kids) read what I knew they wanted me to read, but I inevitably wouldn't have enjoyed a lot of it, and that might have led me to conclude that I didn't enjoy reading. I know my parents must have cringed at my 12 year old self's Xanth obsession, but ultimately, they didn't care, as long as I was reading. They (rightly) figured that I would branch out into more sophisticated stories as I got older. <br><br>A lot of your suggestions are great though, especially the idea of books as treats. The thing that most drove me towards being a reader was the Scholastic books that we could order at school. Coming in and seeing brand new books on my desk was always so exciting.<br><br>
Most of this instructable is about encouraging and directing kids to read WITHOUT telling them to or imposing your will or taste. So I'm a bit confused that you think the methods I describe would inevitably lead them to conclude they don't enjoy reading -- and I can assure you this is not the case! That said, of course I have opinions and it is impossible to completely repress the desire to share my taste and values (especially with my own kids). The reason I dislike manga so much is not that the stories aren't sophisticated (nothing's wrong with a simple story, simply told) but that they are filled with fighting, battles and trash talk, and after putting the books down my sons invariably pick up whatever can be used as a weapon and start hitting each other, while making grand, ballet-like gestures and boastful obnoxious comments. That's what they've been memorizing, by reading the manga over and over. As far as allowing those books in the house is concerned, well, I put all the blame on my husband. He's the one who bought those -- and since I let my kids make their own reading choices, those are some of the most worn volumes I have.
<p>Not all manga is of the fighting action type. There are a variety of manga that deal with other themes and content. Manga is made by and for a wide range of readers, and covers a broad range of topics.<br><br>I'd like to recommend:<br>Chi's Sweet Home - Chi is a kitten who is rescued by a young boy named Yohei. Short vignettes from a kitten's POV.</p><p>Yotsuba&amp;! -Yotsuba&rsquo;s curiosity and enthusiasm quickly turn the everyday into the extraordinary! Join Yotsuba&rsquo;s adventures as she explores the wonders of the world around her.</p><p>Doraemon - Doraemon, a cat shaped robot which came from the 22nd century in the future, goes back in time in order to help Nobita, a below average lazy kid, to make his life less miserable and improve his descendant's life.</p><p>Silver Spoon - City boy protagonist enrolls in an agriculture school, thinking no problems will arise no matter what kind of school he goes to. Enjoy the story of Hachiken as he tries to keep up with his friends, farmers' heirs who are already accustomed to a hardworking farm life.</p><p>Hikaru no Go- a young boy's journey to becoming a professional Go-player, helped by the ghost of a long-dead Go-master</p><p>With the Light - The series depicts the struggles of a young mother, Sachiko Azuma, raising her autistic son Hikaru in modern Japan.</p><p>A Silent Voice - The story revolves around Nishimiya Shōko, a grade school student who has impaired hearing. She transfers into a new school, where she is bullied by her classmates, especially Ishida Shouya. It gets to the point where she transfers to another school and as a result, Shōya is ostracized and bullied himself, with no friends to speak of and no plans for the future. Years later, he sets himself on a path to redemption.</p><p>Barefoot Gen - I'd screen it first, but this is a classic and reinforces the harshness of war and is a classic. Six-year-old boy Gen Nakaoka lives with his family. After Hiroshima is destroyed by atomic bombing, Gen and other survivors are left to deal with the aftermath. <br><br>This article is another good start: <a href="http://comicsintheclassroom.net/oo2007_nov11_jasonthompson.htm" rel="nofollow">http://comicsintheclassroom.net/oo2007_nov11_jason...</a></p><p>Also fighting manga aimed at a young-teen male audience relies heavily on themes of &quot;Friendship, Effort, Victory&quot; (the motto of Shonen Jump, one of the most popular publishers of this genre/demographic) which can be important character building principles.<br><br>Having written/copypasted(descriptions) all that, I hope this helps. I believe comics are a great way to encourage reading and art appreciation. As manga comes from a different culture, it is written with a different focus and offers a different POV compared to western media kids have available to them.<br><br>I think your tips here are all valid, and also appreciate the idea of encouraging kids to read things they wouldn't choose themselves, as it can be culturally isolating if one doesn't venture out of one's preferred genres occasionally. Getting out of one's personal rut occasionally can broaden one's horizons, after all. :) </p>
<p>Very good points... grouping all manga in one block isn't fair, there are huge variations in the stories and quality. Plus, as you say, it's great to expose yourself to the different cultures. I'm not sure which came first, but the boys were (and still are) very drawn to many other aspects of Japanese culture, from the food to animated movies. My elder son even bought a few books and started teaching himself the language (for a few months). At the time though, the boys just loved (and read exclusively) the macho feud fighting type of manga, based on their behavior after putting the books down. It was mostly that behavior I objected to.</p>
Just came across this thread and stopped to think back with much nostalgia - those books that I chose myself, without any intererence or even suggestions from my parents, and the waiting and the pure pleasure of finding them on my desk... <br>Haven't yet ever bumped into anyone else who has mentioned that... <br>Nice one. <br>
Someone brought the book into your house or put it on your desk... Or in the public library, a librarian chose to display it prominently on the shelf... In the book store too a publisher worked hard to put their book in the window. Intentionally or not, all our choices, and particularly all the choices of a child, are curated. A parent can't and shouldn't try to impose specific texts, but it's not realistic to think that a parent isn't going to influence the child's choices -- and I don't think it's wrong either. Transmitting values is a big part of what parenting is about. You didn't choose those books as a child, your parents did. They were just wise enough not to show their cards.
<p>Very cleverly written. We've used a lot of these same tricks. Our third child is so determined to learn to read like the older kids (he's four) that he's teaching himself through shear determination. It's kind of working. </p><p>I think your approach to screen time is crucial. Our kids LOVE watching cartoons, but they know they only get a couple a day.</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing your photo... I love shots of kids reading. And definitely limit screen time when you still can, the older they get, the harder it is.</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing your photo... I love shots of kids reading. And definitely limit screen time when you still can, the older they get, the harder it is.</p>
<p>Some good ideas here. Adequate sleep is critical for kids' health, so not quite sure I'm on board with that one, though. </p>
That's definitely true... though if you set the bed time early enough, you'll get the best of both worlds: time to wind down with a book, and enough hours of sleep.
<p>Great stuff!</p><p>I get lots of &quot;quality&quot; books from charity stores. $50 books sell for $2-$3.</p>
<p>...also library sales. How about setting up a book exchange with some other parents? </p>
<p>...also library sales. How about setting up a book exchange with some other parents? </p>
Boo hate reading
<p>Actually, the reason for the kindle's lack of color was to make it simulate reading a book because color would require (as far as I'm aware) the types of screens used on ipads and the like (long times spent looking at those types of screens is bad for the eyes).</p>
I love your guide. My childs can't read yet, but I'll keep your instructions and recover it in 2 or 3 years.<br><br>Thanks!
In the meantime you can read to your child... Even if he/she can't even talk yet, nothing beats cuddling up together and sharing an interesting and beautiful book.
LOL at bookworm picture! :D
What a great article.<br><br>Never give up on reading to your kids. My wife read to our son right upto grade ten before he finally started reading on his own. Now he devours books.
My parents basically did this. I've been reading since I was a wee child. However I've realized schools are awful for reading. I actually got in trouble because they thought I was &quot;pretending&quot; to read books several times. I remember a teacher taking a book away from me because she thought I stole it and that it couldn't have been mine and my parents had to get it back from the school. Admittedly that book was a college textbook on history. I've always hated school because they teach to the stupidest student in the class.
&quot;make sure you buy more books than toys. Kids might THINK they want toys more, but in fact, they will spend much more time with a book than a remote control car.&quot;<br><br>You might THINK you want freedom, but what you REALLY want is slavery. Fo real, it'll save you in the long run.<br><br>-Big Brother<br><br>P.S. You can have too many books. Trust me.
Yes, I suppose it is possible to have too many books -- though I've never met anyone who did, and most kids I know definitely have too many toys... As for the idea that kids think they want something which, in fact, turns out to be much less fun than expected... I would venture to guess that you are either childless or your child is too young for you to have experienced the crushing disappointment of watching the much nagged for, expensive, most anticipated present end up being ignored and shoved aside after a day or two of use. I would even broaden that premise and say it's not just limited to kids. Adults think they want stuff they never end up using: why do you think bread-makers are fixtures of both wedding registers and garage sales? As for the comparison toy=freedom vs book=slavery -- I admit I don't quite get that.
First off all, for a lot of people including myself, its easier to learn hands on. <br><br>Anyway the whole thing about your kids thinking they want something, it was a reference to the whole bit in 1984 Peace is War, Freedom is Slavery, etc.
I haven't read that since I was a teen -- and it's been a while, so I forgot that part. But now I get your comment. This instructable isn't so much about reading to learn, it's more about learning to enjoy reading. Of course when you're trying to acquire a specific skill just reading about it (even if you're reading an instructable) won't be enough. You've got to do it! Couldn't agree more.<br>Tell me, was my guess about you correct?
Yes, you were correct.
I have 5 kids, Belsey, and you are so right. My kids have saved their favorite books for far longer and spent more time with them than any flash-in-the-pan glitzy toys they ever got! We have a large, dynamic library in our home, with books entering and exiting (to lend!) at a great rate. My kids are more jealous of their books than of their toothbrushes. (Actually, that would be a no-brainer where kids are concerned, wouldn't it? LOL) I would just add to your instructable that, giving a slight homage to bhylak, it's easier to make them bookworms if you read to them, and then have a book-related activity. As a professional tutor, my reading instruction often begins with reading to the student from a short story, then getting them to draw a picture, make a clay figure, or otherwise bring out the ideas in the story. Then, we work on &quot;skills,&quot; such as spelling words or writing our own stories or sentences.<br><br>Good job on this instructible, Belsey!
You're right, I probably didn't emphasize the &quot;reading to them&quot; aspect quite enough; that's because my kids have passed that stage, and though I do still read out loud to them once in a while it's no longer part of the daily routine. It used to be though. I'd also forgotten about the reading related crafts.... After reading &quot;A Cricket in Times Square&quot; My kids and I built a beautiful little golden cricket cage with a bell. We even went to a pet store to find an inhabitant for it, but the crickets there were tiny and would escaped in a split second... So it ended up housing a variety of species of plastic animals and super heros. When I get a chance I might add that as another step. Thanks for the idea!
I really enjoyed this! Thank you for posting it. My wife and I have four boys, and the two oldest (6 and 8) have just recently started tearing through all of our small library at an alarming rate. A 6 year old reading Harry Potter 1 and 2 in only three days? Ah! <br><br>I especially like the bedtime tips. We're gonna have to do that. Thanks a bunch!
Now for me, being forced to read made me hate books. It took the enjoyment away, especially when I couldn't chose what I wanted to read. I did eventually enjoy books, but it was after they were being shoved down my throat.
I agree. The mandatory half hour of reading my boys have for school homework (and, worst of all, the reading log they have to fill out) sucks all the fun and spontaneity out of reading... which is why I usually ignore the requirement, because I figure without timing them, reading here and there when they feel like it, they easily fulfill their required time. Once in a while though I will insist that for their homework reading they pick a book which had more words than pictures.
I am 17, and read at a college level. Reading is the best way someone can learn. Schools these days are pretty much broken. In California at least.
I wholeheartedly reccomend getting a copy of Let Them Have Books, by Gaby Chapman. Its not too expensive, and is available online. Gaby Chapman was my English teacher, and is a total genius when it comes to education though reading.
Excellent. Children must be TAUGHT to treat books with respect.<br><br>If it's not a coloring book, it's NOT a book to color in.
Awesome awesome awesome awesome. As a former reading teacher, I approve wholeheartedly. LOVE IT. This is brilliant. I wish I'd had your instructable to hand out to the parents of my students while I was teaching. A bonus tip: if the kids are going to watch tv, turn on the closed captioning. It is a great passive vocabulary builder.
So true!!!!<br><br>It's also helpful to use closed-captioning in a language you'd like to learn.<br><br>I frequently watch movies closed-captioned in Spanish. <br><br>
What a wonderful instructable! I am only 15, but many of my peers have not touched a book for fun in years. This is a message that would be very beneficial among high schoolers, but, unfortunately, many of them would not listen to it without a professional athlete or hot girl telling them.... Maybe other means must be constructed to reach such a determined not to learn audience. Anyway, a starting point has to be made eventually, and I congradulate you for that.

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