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Tips for Growing Bookworms: #10 Let Them Stay Up Late Reading Under the Covers

Posted by Jen Robinson on March 30, 2010 at 6:00 AM in Literacy NewsRecommendations
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This is Part 10 of a continuing series on encouraging young readers. These ideas were originally captured in a post that I did on my blog in 2007, 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms. Here at Booklights I'll be expanding upon and updating each idea, and adding links for more information. Then we'll recap, and see what we can do to come up with some more.

ReadingAtNight.jpgTip #10: Once in a while, let your kids stay up late reading under the covers. Pretending you don't know is probably acceptable in this case, though I'm not generally a big advocate of deception. Staying up past bedtime reading a great book under the covers makes reading fun. It's a special treat. It's a way to keep reading a joyful experience. It feels sneaky and grown up at the same time. It's the kind of thing that kids remember, and helps them to associate reading with pleasure as they grow older. [Image credit: Microsoft ClipArt Gallery]

redpyramid.jpgI think that this idea could tie in to the whole concept of "social reading", too. Say, when the new Rick Riordan book (The Red Pyramid, featuring Egyptian mythology) comes out in early May, or the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid book by Jeff Kinney is released. If your child stays up late reading that buzz-generating book under the covers, and can brag about that at school tomorrow, well, I think that could go a long way.

As kids get older, one of the challenges is that reading isn't always perceived as "cool." I say, if your child wants to read enough to sneak a flashlight into bed - you should consider yourself very lucky. (See Tricia's post about this at The Miss Rumphius Effect. That post was the inspiration for this tip.) Of course sleep is important, too. But I think that the occasional bending of the rules about bedtime could be a real asset in growing bookworms.

What do you all think? Do you ever let your kids stay up late, reading under the covers?

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site Jen Robinson's Book Page may receive a referral fee.


Rebecca writes...

Funny -- my kids both had flashlights and books as I tucked them in last night. They're just 3 and 5 so they were looking rather than reading, but still.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

How funny, Rebecca! I think that looking at books counts as reading, at that age. So glad to hear about "flashlight reading" in action. You made my day!

BookChook writes...

I think it's a great idea! I want to suggest something else besides the book and flashlight though - a snorkel! I spent many hours reading that way as a child, and I am here to say it gets hot and airless under those covers. A snorkel will at least guarantee a supply of oxygen to the brain!

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

I love that idea, Book Chook. Brilliant!

June Morgan writes...

I agree 110%. If you have a child who shows interest in his/her book and he/she is usually more interested in anything other than reading, please encourage. A little encouragement (or ignoring the fact that he/she is reading) can go a long way to making a reader.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

That sounds like great advice to me, June. We are definitely on the same page with this.

BookMoot writes...

All my kids were flashlight readers. The other thing that that they figured out when they were little was, they could delay doing their household chores if they were reading. "Don't forget to make your bed this morn...awww, look, they are reading. Well, get to it when you are finished." I am such a pushover.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

I love it, Camille! I suspect that I'll be the same way.

Ian @Tidy Books writes...

My son (5) did this for the first time very recently, and I 'let' him get away with it. Winning deception I reckon.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

That's great, Ian. He's starting early. Sounds like winning deception to me, too.

I always would sneak my reading in. Those are really the best reading experiences when I think back. I do really hope my girls do that :)

Kimberly writes...

I love that this "sneakiness" is acceptable. We usually play it off that our 5 year old is getting away with something. "Well...okay, you can read for just ten more minutes." We never shut the lights out on reading though!

Bee writes...

My son 5 only read when his is in bed. He always wants me to read to him before he sleep. I usually will lie beside him and read to him with a led reading torch. Do you think it is alright that he only read before sleep?

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Hi Bee,

I'm so sorry for the late response. I've been on sabbatical from Booklights, after the birth of my own daughter. I think that reading only before sleep is ok, if that's what your son likes. There's no need to force other reading, and turn it into a chore.

But I'd also say that if you can find other ways to sneak in stories throughout the day, like listening to audiobooks when you're in the car, or telling stories during the bath, or pointing out words on signs as you go for walks, all of these little things help, too.

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