Wednesday, May 10, 2017

6 Tips to Help Your Child Love Reading

I originally published this post as an answer to a question on Quora. You can find that answer here. That is the main reason for the use of she/her pronouns. However, I thought this answer could be useful as an article as the advice applies to most children. I have adapted it a bit to make it better formatted for a blog post.

1. Start early. It is never too early to teach your child to love reading. Start by showing your child that you love reading. Get caught reading by your child. Read to your child. Start as soon as your child is born or as soon as you adopt them. Start as soon as possible. If it is already too late, the tips below will still help you.

2. Read to your child. If you can’t get them to read, maybe you can get them to listen to you read. Make sure to pick an interesting book that is suited to their level and interest. (For an 8-year-old who loves horses, pick a low-level book about horses). Make reading to your child a routine. Try reading to them every night at bedtime. This is good bonding time that will help foster a love of books and reading.

3. Pursue YOUR CHILD's interests. Buy books with things they are interested in. Get books with bright covers and preferably those with pictures. Why pictures for an older child? Because pictures are one thing that can engage even the most struggling reader. They help tell the story. So don’t rule out picture books, no matter how old your child is.

4. Consider going below your child's grade level. Just because she is 8, doesn’t mean she needs to be reading at a 3rd grade level. Consider going down a couple of levels. But continue to choose books that maintain her interest. So if her interest is horses, get a picture book about horses. Read it aloud at bedtime.

5. The important thing is not to love reading, but to love books. Sounds crazy? Well, a love of books can lead to a love of reading. NEVER make books a punishment. Spend some time in a book store or library. Let your child pick whatever book (or books) they want. They don't have to read it either. They can just look at it. The important thing is that it is the child's choice. You don’t want your child to feel forced at any point during this journey.

6. Let your child choose the medium. Some kids like to read when it isn’t in a book. I know, I know. You want your child to love reading books and stories. When I was about 14, I had an 8-year-old friend who I used to visit, and sometimes we would chat on Yahoo messenger. I saw her like a little sister and was concerned about her lack of interest in reading. She loved reading my messages to her on instant messenger, though. She was still reading, even if it wasn’t in a book. So let your child read emails, text messages, whatever (with supervision, of course). It’s all going to build their skills as a reader.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Write Tired, Edit Awake: Lowering Your Inhibitions as a Writer

Once upon a time, a man named Ernest Hemingway gave the following advice. Write drunk; edit sober. The reason for this is probably because drinking causes people to lower their inhibitions. But like me, many people don’t drink alcohol, and for them the advice isn’t all that helpful. Or is it?

My own philosophy is like Mr. Hemingway’s. Write tired; edit awake. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go to your computer and write after pulling an all-nighter.

When you are a little bit tired, your inhibitions are lowered. For this reason, the words might simply flow better. You'll be less self-conscious and more likely to try new ideas. When you’re awake enough, you can edit the story, and gut the truly unnecessary parts or parts that simply strike you as “too weird”.

Another way to lower your inhibitions when writing is to write for yourself. A lot of people open their document and begin writing with the mindset that this is for someone else to see. They already have it in their minds that they are going to publish this book. Therefore, they are already thinking about what others are going to think of their product.

Forget your audience for a moment and think about what you really want to write. Try this exercise. Open a document, and write a five-hundred-word story (or part of a story) which is only for you and that you have no intention of sharing. Perhaps, you will see a difference in your work.

What are your thoughts on writing tired and editing awake? Do you have any advice to help budding writers lower their inhibitions when writing? Please share in the comments.