Several times we think of developing the reading habit within our family but never get around it simply because life is too busy. In between the school drop offs and pickups, there is grocery, work, home chores and a long list of things to do after school as well. Even if there is no school, as adults there is always too much on your plate: the official work, the kids schedules, decluttering, cleanup, extra activities and then obviously the lunch – dinner routines.

While the kids are home these days, there is always too much time but there is also no time at all. While you are running out of DIY activities for them, perhaps now is the best time to instill the habit of reading. If you have been someone who use to read a book after another as you grew and eventually lost the habit to a busy schedule, then now is the time to restart that gear. It may seem impossible to make someone fall in love with the idea of sitting in a spot stuck to a book for hours. However, it is not as difficult as it seems; all it requires is a little time (which is all you have right now as you quarantine!).

Here are 4 ways to help you out!

1. Place book or a magazine everywhere!
It may be look messy or out of place sometimes but having books accessible is a smart move to encourage reading. Often, the laziness to read is because finding a book or digging a magazine is too much work. If reading material is right in front of you then you would often casually pick it up. Help your child pick up that book during all the “down time” or the waves of boredom throughout the day. the idea is to simply make sure there is book in sight always. You never know when your child’s curiosity sparks and prompts him to turn those pages. Do not worry about younger children tearing those pages or ruining the book if in sight. Let them explore and brush through as they understand the purpose of a book.

Another benefit of this would be to let the kids read out loud to you as you prepare dinner or do other chores. If they ever come with boredom complaints, tell them to grab that magazine on the kitchen counter and read it out loud. Perhaps, you can also tell them to read the recipe. Taking turns doing this would encourage every member of the family to gradually read.

2. Add family reading time to your schedule.
Studies show that family reading time can improve behavioral problems in children. Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, says that reading aloud with children offers emotional and social opportunities to them that helps them express their own emotions. Hence, adding a reading time may sound forced but perhaps start with only 10 minutes during bedtime or anytime of the day where everyone is willing to sit still. Chose an easy book and let each member of the family read out loud at least one page.

The key is to involve everyone. You could also add a few encouraging factors such as each person gets to choose the book for the day or one member could act out the reading material. If everything else is in your schedule then why not reading. Sparing a 15-30 minutes from 24 hours should be worth the effort.

3. In a world of technology, stock up on eBooks or audio books.
While we have integrated technology in almost everything we do in our lives, its important to step up a bit when it comes to reading. Since our kids are growing in age of technology, books often seem old fashioned to them. Despite the fact that books can never get old, we have to compromise here in order to encourage the idea of reading or ‘hearing’ a book. Audio books can become a great way to kick start the reading journey. While you engage your child in house chores during too much free time, play the audio book as well. While they listen to it, comment on what is going on.

Once they are done, discuss it. Discuss the next possible thing that could happen or discuss the characters. Engaging in what they have heard is a good way to encourage them to continue listening to the whole thing.

4. Read books yourself in front of them.
You may have heard that a child follows most of parents’ actions. Thus, in your free time, grab a book. Leave a spare book nearby and watch your child strolling to that book sooner or later. It may not happen in one day but it will eventually happen. In this case, make sure you are reading when the child has nothing else to engage in and boredom is killing them.

Gradually, he or she may seat themselves beside you with that spare book lying around. Maybe now is a good time to offer them a read out loud session if they are too young. Nevertheless, this way is beneficial for you and the rest of the family as you develop reading habits.

Hence, reading is a habit that takes a while to develop. Understand that each method goes hand in hand with the other but that does not mean going cold turkey on yourself and the rest of the family members. The idea is to make them fall in love with the beautiful world that reading offer. Follow the lead and take it slow. There is a lot of time (especially as you quarantine!).

Enjoy reading!

Written by Salwa Jakvani