Hitting the Books: Strategies to Get your Kids Reading
Reading is a part of everyday life. Whether you’re at the grocery store trying to find calorie listings on a label, filling out an application, or even navigating through your TV menu, it’s something that’s difficult to avoid. While many people read only because they have to, there’s also those of us that read for the pleasure of it. It’s a wonderful hobby, and an addictive one at that.
A few decades ago before the arrival of the internet, libraries were still the primary source of information. I remember walking to the local library on a weekly basis and standing in awe of the amount of books that could be housed in one location. Some books drew me in with nice pictures and big fonts, while others, lacking imagery, didn’t interest me at all. As a youngster, I never imagined reading an entire book with nothing but black ink on white paper- the very thought was painful enough. Weekly visits were much of the same from that point on until that very special day that would change my life forever.
It was early summer and our local AAA baseball team, the Ottawa Lynx, had decided to team up with the local libraries to promote reading for kids. The program they had put in place under the honor system was simple: read ten books and receive two free tickets to a ball game. Being a young baseball player myself, I was sold. That night I took ten books home and started reading through them- it was excruciating. I spent days from one book to the next while my mother quizzed me on every title to make sure I wasn’t cheating. It took me a few weeks but I finally got through them all, landing me two tickets to an awesome game of baseball.
I participated in Read your way to the ballpark for several years until the program stopped and the tickets stopped coming. It was at that point that I realized that even without the tickets at the end of the stick, I still wanted read more books. Many years later, I’m not only addicted to reading novels but I write them as well. That program was a turning point for me and I only wish I could thank the people who put it together.
This year, a new Can-Am league baseball team called the Ottawa Champions has emerged and is getting involved with local libraries once again. I’m not sure what the deal is with reading and baseball, but it sure worked wonders for me! If your kids aren’t too fond of reading, a similar program in your local community may be all they need to get them started. If not, even a homemade reward program can be a small price to pay to launch your kids into a lifetime of reading for enjoyment.