How to get kids engaged with reading, tips from the experts

Books can make a massive difference in the lives of children, and from August 29th to September 9th KSBY is highlighting the difference books make in children’s lives as part of our if you give a child a book campaign, but even when you get books in the hands of children, getting them engaged can be a whole separate problem, our team chatted with the experts from the San Luis Obispo County Libraries to find out just how to get kids engaged in reading.

With a world full of distractions and devices pulling kid’s attention from books, getting them engaged in a book can be tricky. The team at the San Luis Obispo County Library knows just how important reading is. Erica Thatcher, engagement director for the library system told us, “kids who read, research shows tend to be more successful in life.” She continued, “reading is great for opening minds and absorbing new information and creating empathy.”

The benefits are undeniable but that may not be the most convincing argument to get a little one to pick up a book. Thatcher explained, “I think a good way to make reading special is to kind of introduce a variety of formats.”

Chapter books, nonfiction, audio books, graphic novels, and group reading programs can all spark interest and keep kids interested.

Susana Lewis leads a bilingual story time at the San Luis Obispo county library, she dips into her bag of tricks to get kids engaged. She showed us some of those tricks after a storytime, “this is my secret weapon the bubble gun. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. So these three things are my secrets. And I mean, and kids love it.”

She also makes use of egg shakers, and colored scarves to get kids engaged, but you don’t need any special things, items found around the house do just as well.

Simple items you have at home can make a big difference, plus we all have another trick up our sleeves. Thatcher explained, “I think people don’t realize that they all have special character voices that they can make when they’re reading to kids. We all have a high voice. We all have a low voice. And then we have a medium voice and we have a quiet voice So those are things that parents and grownups can do with their kids to kind of make stories come alive.

Lewis added, “getting them talking about the book, not necessarily having to read it all helps. It whole helps them understand what a story is and what a book is. And eventually, you know, they kind of get they get into that groove.” of like, oh, let’s pick up this book. Well, you hope that they pick up the book and start wanting to read it.”

It only takes a single book to get kids excited to read. At KSBY in partnership with The Scripps Howard Foundation is “Giving light. Changing lives” for children in need nationwide through its “If You Give a Child a Book … ” campaign.

For our third year at KSBY, we have partnered with two Title One school’s in Santa Maria, one in Oceano and another in San Miguel, to help provide the books they need for their students.

The campaign begins Monday, Aug. 29, and lasts through Friday, Sept. 9. The Scripps Howard Foundation will be matching donations, so make sure to donate early to ensure your pledge is being doubled!

Employees here at KSBY began the campaign internally in early August to help support the children at the four local elementary schools, and in total raised $3,066.

Now, we are taking this campaign out into the community, with the goal of raising $40,000 worth of books for local students in need. To donate, click here. Or text KSBY to 50155. Message and data rates may apply. A $5 donation is all it takes to give a book to a child who needs it most.

Arellanes Elementary School, Bonita Elementary, Oceano Elementary and Lillian Larson Elementary will be a part of our “Big Book Giveaway” in January as we partner with Scholastic to turn all the community donations into books for these students.


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