Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Reading Ideas by Dr. Danny Brassell

Holiday Reading Ideas

You’re getting ready to drive to your relatives’ place for the holidays.
Perhaps friends and family are coming to your place.
Or maybe you’re looking for ways to entertain your children that do not include a screen.
What’s a parent to do to occupy children during their holiday breaks in a fun and meaningful way?
My antidote is “reading.”
A lot of people think reading refers to pulling out a “Classic” written in Middle English about subjects most children (and their parents, for that matter) have little interest in or understanding. Reading has evolved to become much more, however. This holiday season, why not give your children the gift of reading? There’s lots of ways you can make reading come alive for your child.

Books on Tape. While driving long distances, why not turn off the annoying DVD player in your Toyota Sienna and opt for a book on tape checked out from your local public library (by the way – books on tape have evolved to include CDs)? For many – and especially for children, the beauty of allowing someone else to read aloud a story to you is that it literally allows you to avoid the work and stress of sounding-out unfamiliar words in favor of focusing on the situations portrayed in the story. Technology has allowed a wide range of talented performers to read aloud books. For my money, though, there is none more talented than the actor Jim Dale, who manages to create the voices of over 100 unique characters in his delightful read alouds of the Harry Potter series. Books on tape are also a great way to acquaint children with particular authors, as many choose to narrate their own works.
Play-Up the Classics. While simply saying the term “Classic” can turn most kids off to reading, the holidays provide a safe haven for traditions that I have noticed many children will no only accept but – in some cases – relish. How many of you remember a special person reading aloud ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? Done properly with the right balance of flair and mischief, any good read aloud can turn even the most reluctant reader to the most ardent supporter. And one of our most important jobs as parents is to create experiences that our children remember fondly for the rest of their lives.

Compare & Contrast. I have never understood folks who deny children the right to watch movie versions of their favorite books. How silly is that? Not only do I allow children (including my own) to watch movie versions of books, I insist on it. Why? How many movies have you ever seen that told a story better than the book? Encourage your children’s critical thinking by reading aloud books with your children, watching movie adaptations together and then discussing the similarities and difference, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of both forms of media. I am willing to bet that in almost all circumstances, your child will prefer the printed version. This is a great way of stimulating children’s interest in why that may be so, that’s why I also encourage parents to…

Gifting Literature. What better way to stimulate your child’s interest in reading than by placing emphasis on it in the form of presents. I can honestly say that some of my most treasured possessions are books with inscriptions from my loved ones. My family loves the annual ritual of watching A Christmas Story on television. It was my interest in this movie that drove me to find the terrific Jean Shepherd book that the movie is based on, In God We Trust…All Others Pay Cash. The book in no way makes me like the movie any less – but I can honestly say that as good as the movie is, the book is better. And for a father like me who never knows what presents to buy, I can purchase the book and the movie!
And that leads me to my most important point.

Keep Reading! Your children have momentum now. Reading should not just be a school event. We need to keep reading outside of school if we truly want to improve. Many folks have heard of the “summer reading slump,” where many students leave for their summer vacations and fail to read during their entire breaks. This is perhaps the biggest tragedy I see in schools today, and I feel the reason this happens is because schools often assign reading or insist on students creating silly projects to “prove” they read their books. Do your children have to prove they watched a television show or played a video game? Of course not! They enjoy those things.
Reading should be an activity met with as much anticipation as opening presents under the tree. Remember: you are your child’s best role model, so please read in front of and to your children as much as possible. Let’s let our children enjoy reading during this holiday break.

Danny Brassell, Ph.D., is “America’s Leading Reading Ambassador,” helping parents and educators inspire kids to love reading and achieve more. He is the author of eleven books, including his top-selling Secrets for Successful Readers. A father of three and professor in the Teacher Education Department at California State University-Dominguez Hills, he is the founder of The Lazy Readers’ Book Club,, Google’s #1-ranked site for cool, “short book recommendations” for all ages. Watch video tips and learn more from Danny at, and check out his TEDx-Village Gate talk The Reading Makeover next month.

1 comment:

  1. These are wonderful ideas! I hope many people try your suggestions as you are so correct.


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