Read to your son. It can be hard to make the time but many boys will listen to their parents read right up through the Middle School. By choosing the right book at the right time (generally a book that is highly interesting to your son that is a little above his reading level) you can usually keep him hooked. Shared book time is often a very special time of day for parents and is very enriching to the boys.
Model reading to your son. He needs to see that his parents read, including the men of the household! The greater variety in your reading diet, the greater variety in his, so make sure he sees you reading newspapers, fiction, non-fiction, magazines and more.
Make sure that you have plenty of books and other reading materials in your home – you never know what your son will be drawn to. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Parents can check out a number of books from the A-S library and keep them around the house for a while.
Attend author events around the city. Barnes and Noble at 86th Street regularly brings in children’s authors and the terrific Books of Wonder downtown has numerous children’s authors every week! Making a personal connection with an author can go a long way in encouraging interest in a book.
Listen to audio books together. It can be a great use of time (particularly when you are in the car) and you will be able to discuss the book together as a family. The library has hundreds of books on CD and Playaway™ as well as audio books that can be downloaded.
Fledgling readers can make use of our book and CD kits, featuring a story CD with the accompanying picture book, enabling them to follow the words as they listen.
Allow older readers (roughly age 9 and up) to experiment with e-books. Some boys prefer to read an electronic text for a variety of reasons such as the ability to make the font bigger or to look up word definitions seamlessly. In addition, reluctant readers can find the slim e-book reader more approachable than a fat book in print! The library lends Kindles™ with appropriate books loaded for boys in the Middle and Upper Schools, with parental permission.
Try to refrain from judging your son’s reading materials but continue to encourage a varied reading diet. A little Calvin and Hobbes can provide a welcome break between novels. Keep in mind that graphic novels are also valuable in their own right and even if your son seems to be reading them exclusively, he will move on!
Encourage your son to read books that are appropriate for his age and reading level. Picture books are very important for him developmentally and a number of years should be spent reading them. Long chapter books can wait, even when read aloud, and trust us when we tell you that Harry Potter at age nine is a richer experience than Harry Potter at age six. The better matched your son is to the books he reads, the more he will enjoy a fulfilling reading experience.
Show an interest in children’s literature and try to stay current. As a minimum, read the children’s book reviews in the Sunday New York Times. Check out the latest titles on display at your local bookstore and read reviews of books that look interesting at Amazon. Ask your division librarian about what books are currently hot in your son’s grade and which ones might be a good fit for your boy.