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Feb. 21, 2013 Volume 34, No. 24

Parents, encourage your children to read, expert says

Parents should let children decide what they want to read

Children who read a lot sometimes end up reading less when they become teenagers and adults, studies show. 

An MU human development and family studies expert says parents need to encourage their children and teenagers to read. 

“It’s not the [middle and high] schools’ job to get kids to read,” said David Schramm, an assistant professor in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. “It’s the parents’ job, and schools can help supplement the skill. 

“Reading starts at home,” he said. “It’s great exercise for the brain.” 

Whether children want to reread the same beloved stories over and over, thumb through comic or picture books, or pick a new title on an e-reader, parents should let their kids decide what to read, Schramm said. 

He adds that parents who want their teenagers to read more might suggest that the teens read books about movies they’ve enjoyed.

“It doesn’t matter what they’re reading; it’s the consistency,” he said. “Freedom of choice is the key to getting kids motivated and excited about reading.”

Schramm recommends that parents read with their pre-tween children 20 minutes each day; the time can also be broken up into five-minute increments.