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How do you model reading for children in the digital age?

Original article at The Huffington Post

Modeling reading for children in the digital age has many of the same components as modeling reading for children in any age. Relationship is key. I am answering based on the needs of a baby, a 5-year-old and older children, too.

Bedtime reading: sit at your child's, tween's or teen's bedside while they are under the covers with a book that has turnable pages and is not digitized. It has been proven that light in the eyes from monitors affects the sleep cycle [1], so avoid digital media screens at night. Some have less light than others, but if I were to provide advice on the subject, I would use an old-fashioned paper book for bedtime reading. Please add your favorite selections, or read the selections of others, here Bedtime Reading.

Other times: Sit side-by-side or with your child on your lap [2]. Depending on the age of your child, look at pictures together and read so long as interest is maintained. Ask questions. "Where's Waldo?" and "What is happening?" and be interested in the content, as well as the rhythm of the language. Show that you love words with your enthusiasm. Stop the reading session any time interest wanes. Note that great reading sessions can end with a discussion brought about by a topic raised while reading text or graphics, a subject which the child wants to discuss or which the adult initiates if the child shows interest in the subject.

Assess interest continually: If your child loses interest, it's time to stop and change the subject. You need to see whether paper books are more interesting to your child than digital or vice versa.

Modeling: A child of 5 will want to "do" what s/he sees others doing. If you model focused reading of your own using digital media, s/he will want to do that, regardless of your choice of reading matter. If you model focused reading using paper pages in books, then that is what s/he will think of as "reading." And if you do both, so will s/he.

Age matters: Depending on your child's age, whether you use digital or paper-based books at times other than bedtime is mostly your preference. What matters is your engagement together when you read together. Note that it may be hard on some small screens or with some small books for two people to read together and together view the screen or the book. So you hand the book or e-reader to the child so s/he can see what it is you see. Reading together is best done side by side or on a lap with the text and pictures in the middle for best view.

Babies: Babies and especially the youngest toddlers are multi-sensory creatures who love things with all of their bodies: taste, touch, hearing, smell, movement and sight. So I suggest that paper-based books, fabric-based books, and the like are more appropriate for babies to touch, put in their mouths, drag around the house, tear, spill milk on, etc.

Controlling the experience: The goal is to have books and stories that kids of every age love to read and want to have near their bodies, so they can pick up the book and say or gesture "read?!" and a parent or caregiver will comply with joy... when they want to control the reading experience, you have modeled reading successfully. It means they love it and love their control over story.

The joy of reading: It's an awesome thing when a child wants a story read repeatedly. It means they are trying to understand more, and more, about what it is they are reading. No matter how many times a child asks for the same story to be read again (and again... x1,000), please do read it every time with enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm: Your enthusiasm shows when you model reading by speaking with the voice of the character, by being relaxed and focused on your own enjoyment of the story and by engaging your child as only you can in the most fun/interesting/exciting details of each page. They like trucks? Show them the trucks and read truck-related books. They like animals? Ditto. Expose them to new things, too, with each new book.

Variety of inputs: I liked to have a pile of five books at the bedside every night; two were old favorites and three were new books to consider if we wanted to add them to the favorites list.