5 tips to get your kids reading, from the head librarian of The Montreal Children's Library

Tablets and smart phones find their way into children's hands quite easily these days, but that doesn't mean getting kids excited about the printed word has to be a struggle, says Paula Lebrasseur.

As a child, reading came naturally to Lebrasseur — the head librarian at The Montreal Children's Library.

Her father worked for a publishing house, and she grew up in a home so filled with books that it felt like a library.

But that's not the case for everyone. So here are Lebrasseur's professional tips: 

Get to know what they like

Choose books for them (and ideally with them) at the library, the bookstore, a friend's house, according to what they like in life (sports, astronomy, travel), want to learn about, or what they are going through — like starting school or being a teen.

A good question to ask is, "What is the last thing that you read and liked?"

Then you can search online, ask a bookseller or ask a librarian for similar titles. Eventually, by looking at their books, you will understand better what genre or style they are looking for, what type of illustrations they prefer, and so on.

Let them read for fun

Don't force them to read. You want to create a positive relationship with reading. Manga and comic books are good ways to start.

Even if they "don't read but just look at the pictures," the images are a way to learn to make deductions, in order to understand the story.

They can be a very important form of reading.  

Elysha Enos/CBC

Leave books everywhere 

Yes, even there!

The more accessible books are, the more likely they will get picked up by your kids.

Diversity is key 

Use different techniques to get your kids to read — leave nice notes for them to read, have different sorts of reading materials around the house: posters, magazines, comic books, non-fiction and picture books, novels. Explore interactive e-reading, too.

Let them read instructions for your recipes or board games. Read with them, and let them read to you. You can even try fan fiction.

Lead by example

Take this opportunity to revive your passion for reading if it's faded, and speak to your children with enthusiasm about the books you like to read for yourself.

They will see that reading is fun and useful for adults as well. Kids learn by mimicking, and reading is a good habit to pick up.

In recognition of the important work The Montreal Children's Library does, CBC Montreal has chosen the library as the beneficiary of its 2019 charity drive. Donations can be made online and at the CBC Sing-In.