By Kitty Felde
If I open the kitchen pantry door and there’s a bag of chocolate chips in there, I eat them. I can’t help it. On the other hand, if the bag of chips is stashed in the back of the shelf, I don’t bother to look for them. Out of sight, out of mind.
That same principle can be used to create a reading habit.
A friend of mine ended up with a number of used Kindles. Instead of sending them back to Amazon for a small credit, he’s been planting them all over the house. Like my chocolate chips, they call to him. Instead of “eat me,” they say, “read me.” There’s a Kindle on the bedside table, one in the bathroom, even one on the kitchen counter that nags him to read a few pages every morning, waiting for the coffee to brew.
There are 101 loose minutes floating around our days, time we might spend looking at TikTok or playing Wordle. Or we could be reading. All we need is a little reminder, a little invitation.
You could leave actual books around the house – a Dr. Seuss in the mud room, a Diary of a Wimpy Kid under a pillow. Or you could pick up a few Kindles. Used ones are cheap, usually less than the price of a hardback book. They’re light and small and rarely need their battery recharged.
Load them up with tempting books for your child. Library e-books are free to borrow and the DC Public Library allows you to borrow up to 10 e-book titles at a time. (Bonus: no need to remember when to return them. When they’re due, they quietly disappear from your Kindle. Not finished? You can easily check them out again.)
If you don’t know where to start, ask your child’s teacher or librarian. They’d be delighted to recommend ten titles.
Kids are at home with technology. Many would rather read from a screen than a book. Use that to your advantage.
And set an example. Kids model what they see adults are doing. Download a book or two for yourself. Read a couple of pages while waiting on hold with the bank. Let your kids find you with your nose in a story when they pile into the backseat after school. Stick one in your purse or backpack or briefcase and pull it out if the grocery store line is moving too slow. Bring an extra Kindle and hand it to the impatient kid who keeps asking for that bag of Takis.
Make reading part of your day, part of your child’s day. Plant those Kindles here, there, and everywhere.
TEDx speaker Kitty Felde is host of the Book Club for Kids podcast and author of The Fina Mendoza Mysteries series of books and podcasts.