Let children choose their books 
         Freedom of choice: isnít that a fundamental principle of our society?
Americans consider this a value of tremendous importance.

         Apply this principle to your childrenís reading material. We are each
stimulated by difference sources. Especially at the beginning of the formal
school years, there is no telling what will be the key that unlocks reading
pleasure for your child.

         So many other stimuli have lots of choices: movies, video games, and
television are in competition for your childís attention and time. In order for
adults to be able to suggest to children that reading is a valid alternative to
these other media, they need to have a wide variety of reading materials in
their homes and classrooms.

         When children are permitted and encouraged to make their own reading
choices, they are taking responsibility for their learning process. This is always a
positive step. Parents and teachers, therefore, have fewer problems with regard
to motivating them to read.

         When the occasion comes to give books to children in your extended
family, consult your own children for suggestions about their own favorites. And
donít be shy about asking the recipient about his taste in books. After all, if the
toy stores can have registries for toys and games, why not give them a choice in
books, too?

         Get children into the habit of talking about their choices by promoting a
family book talk during dinner on a regular basis. On these occasions, each
member of the family talks about a book that she or he has recently read or is
currently reading. 

         During the book discussions, the younger children, while listening to the
older ones talk about their book adventures,  have goals to which they can
aspire as they improve their reading ability. The older children become aware
that they are role models for the little ones. And, most important, parents
demonstrate their continued interest in using a skill they learned when they were
in school.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.

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