When I was in school, we had Accelerated Reader Tests, or ARTs. I did them one year before backing out and stopping: I didn’t enjoy reading the books within my eighth grade level; I preferred the young adult/new adult mystery fiction novels by Lois Duncan (RIP) on a shelf in my journalism teacher’s room more. My guardians didn’t permit me to read the Harry Potter series.
It wasn’t until last year that I fell in love with reading again, when it wasn’t something I needed to do for a grade but something I did for myself. I missed it, and a part of me is upset over the time I wasted reading books I didn’t understand—I mean, does anyone understand the point of Shakespeare? Romeo & Juliet was not a romantic story. 😂
Anyway, summer is coming to a close and the new school year beginning. Between all the reading required for school, it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that reading is something we have to do—so here are some ways to keep it fun and light, and to avoid making it a chore.
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1. Encourage more fiction reading.
There’s debate over how “unrealistic” fiction is, but because it fuels the imagination, fictional stories can be applied to reality. The Hate U Give, for example, pertains to the #BlackLivesMatter movement; Frankenstein is perhaps about a man trying to control nature; The Marriage Pact deals with the interworkings of marriage whilst challenging the basis of marriage itself.
At its core, fiction pertains to real life; you just need perspective to unlock it.
Fiction also helps with empathy (imagining creates understanding) and to lower stress.
2. Read before bed.
Reading fiction before bed helps prepare the brain for sleep (imagination). Nonfiction, on the other hand, turns gears and keeps the brain going and thinking.
Instead of playing with some electronic device, turn the pages of a fiction novel before bed and let your imagination give you great dreams. 😉
3. Join reading challenges.
I am currently partaking in Goodreads’ yearly challenge and a friend’s Bingo challenge. Other challenges exist, like color challenges and genre challenges.
When I participate in a community reading event, I feel like I have a network of support encouraging me. It’s different from when non-reader people try to encourage me.
4. Set an example.
Stop saying you don’t have time. Exchange an hour of Facebook time for reading a book. Read on the toilet. Read before bed.
When you set an example with your actions, others want to mimick you. That is the definition of an influencer.
5. Create rewards.
When I finish a book, I have another to add to my yearly tally and my Bingo sheet, but I also have another blog post (book review).
I’ve started matching what I spend reading with what I spend on Netflix—the more into a book I am, however, the less screen time I contribute to.
6. Sign-up for a book subscription box.
Subscription boxes are fun! I personally find them rewarding and encouragement altogether, because they make me want to quickly make use of whatever is in them. I love the surprise (even if I have an idea of what I’ll be receiving).
7. Bring them to life.
Call me a hopeless book romantic (I’m not sure of the terminology here; bear with me, please), but a movie night a few days after reading a book on which the movie’s based, surrounded by snacks and decor inspired by it, tickles my nerdy self. I think kids could like it, too, perhaps.
I had a teacher who would always try to simulate the experience of a book, but telling me what I’d experienced leading up to that point hadn’t actually happened did nothing but confuse my literal-thinking mind.
On my own blog, I’m brainstorming how to bring books and food together. Bigger books may be easier, like the Harry Potter series, because there is actual merchandise to go along with it.
For other books that may prove a little difficult, what about dressing up? What about crafts?
8. Don’t dismiss picture books.
They totally count, regardless of whether you read them to a child.
We need to put the idea that “baby books” are below us when we hit a certain age. I enjoy reading them sometimes, because they hit me in the nostalgic feels, but also remind me to pace myself and enjoy the scenery every now and then.
9. Make it a game.
Like with the challenges, but instead offer points for completion to be used toward rewards big and small. For the small rewards, have a reward chest of sorts. For the bigger rewards, make a list of things to be bought with the points: a slumber party, perhaps? Pulling an all-nighter? Backyard movie night?
Bonus points could be awarded for doing bookish things.