Four Tips to Encourage Reading in the Digital Age

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

Parents, as you know, today’s generation of students have grown up with technology. It isn’t an add-on or something they think about separately, but rather, it’s integrated into everything they do in and outside of school. 

Technology certainly offers many advantages to students of all ages, but does it lead to less reading? While some children choose scrolling social media and browsing the internet on their smartphones over other activities (including reading), there are many ways to promote reading while acknowledging that technology plays a big part in your child’s life. 

Here are several tips on how to encourage your “digital native” child to read more: 

  1. Make reading material accessible. A bookshelf in your home and/or your child’s room is a great way to help him or her start creating a home library, but if your child has a laptop or tablet, he or she can download an app from Amazon or Barnes & Noble for digital reading. That way, wherever you are, your child always has access to his or her book. If your child prefers a separate tablet for reading only, e-readers and gift cards for future e-books make great gifts. Bottom line: make it easy for your child to get books. 
  1. Help your child find books of interest. Today’s students seek stimulation. Their minds work quickly. If a book doesn’t capture their attention, they’ll abandon it for something that does. This is all the more reason to help your child find reading material that gets him or her excited. Reading-focused social websites like Goodreads are an awesome resource and don’t forget about the librarian, who can guide your child toward material based on his or her interests, age, reading ability and more. 
  1. Talk about the downsides of multitasking. There’s plenty of research out there that articulates why doing five things at once is less effective than concentrating on one (the American Psychological Association explains that “doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity”). Help your child establish good habits by setting a time in your household for daily reading (and reading only) and having your child mute all phone and other notifications when reading. 
  1. Make reading fun. This is an age-old tip for a reason. Put simply, if reading is enjoyable, your child will want to do more of it. Make reading a part of your child’s routine so that it becomes a habit as he or she grows older, but also use reading to create memories as a family. A few nights a week, make hot chocolate or popcorn and have family reading night in the living room or on the patio in the summer. On your free Sunday evenings, head to your favorite local bookstore or coffee shop for some reading, then go out to eat or come home to make dinner together. 

Lastly, remember how important it is to get your child help if needed. Your child will never choose to read more or think of reading as relaxing downtime if it is a constant struggle. So, if you notice that your child receives low test scores, grapples with text that seems simple or resists every effort you make to encourage reading, call Huntington. We’ll assess your child’s reading abilities to see what might be going on behind the scenes that are preventing your child from becoming a reader. Reach us at 1-800 CAN LEARN.