By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
You may have seen the commercials. It starts with author James Patterson speaking in front of a backdrop of the American Flag. He states, “I’m James Patterson and I’m not running for President. But if I was running for President, I’d scream at every debate about getting kids reading.” Sure, it is an ad for his book cowritten with Chris Grabenstein entitled MAX EINSTEIN REBELS WITH A CAUSE but if you go to his website, he has 10 Tips for getting your kids’
James Patterson's "10 tips to get your kids" reading
-Create a Reading Club with friends.
-Remember: it's up to you to make it fun.
Patterson developed these 10 Tips with Summer reading in mind but you can adjust and apply them year-round.
Another great idea to get your kids’ reading comes from England Elementary School in England Arkansas. I’m especially proud of this idea because it’s a fantastic idea and it comes from my wife’s and mine alma mater. It has received tens of thousands of likes on Facebook and TV coverage on their local news channel out of Little Rock AR.
It is a book vending machine. Many schools have bought into the idea and used their student activity money to purchase the $4,000 machine manufactured by Global Vending Group. The way it works, each week there are 50-60 golden tokens awarded to children showing outstanding behavior. Those awarded may take their coin and purchase a book from the vending machine. The kids love this because as one little girl said this book is mine and I can keep it and take it home. The other books are the schools.
There has been a great interest in the book vending machine and in the exceptional behavior of the children so they can earn a golden token. It would be a way for literacy groups, book clubs, writer’s groups and the like to encourage reading. Fund raisers could easily reach the $4,000 purchase price in a short period of time.
As a grandparent of 10 I know the struggle to get our digitally minded kids to put down the screens and read a book. It can be difficult but it is possible. We have used the “no-electronics”, or as we call it digital blackout to gather the grands around the dinning room table for art, board games and reading. I enjoy seeing and hearing them take turns reading from a book they choose. It’s a magical moment for grandparents and I think your kids/grandkids will love you for it.