If you’d like to get your teen to turn off the TV and turn on to reading, here are some tips from English teacher Mary Leonhardt, author of Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don’t.
Don’t make it too easy for your kids to watch TV, she advises. For example, never have a television in the kitchen. Instead, put a bookcase there. Keep it filled with comics, magazines, and other things that are easy to read.
Make and enforce the rule that all snacks have to be eaten in the kitchen. Don’t tell your kids this is because you want them to read. Tell them that you don’t like having crumbs all over the house. Since we know that “the average teenage boy can go only eight minutes without putting food in his mouth,” Leonhardt says, “your teen should get a lot of reading done if he reads while he’s snacking.”
Don’t let your teen have a TV in his room. You want your teen to read himself to sleep, not fall asleep watching television. If he already has a TV, it’ll be tough to get him to break the habit. Perhaps you can move it to another place in the house—or give it to a neighbor or family member who has a broken set.
If all else fails, Leonhardt says, you may need to get rid of the television completely. Yes, she says, it’s drastic. But what do you have to lose? “If your kid continues this way, he’ll end up, at best, semiliterate. Almost all professional occupations are closed to applicants who cannot read well. Even jobs in trade will be difficult. How can you repair a refrigerator if you can’t read the repair manual?”
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