It seems as if less children are reading nowadays than ever. It is an unusual thing to see a kid with a book these days rather than an ereader or a computer game in hand, and much more common for kids to do the bulk of their reading via computer…or not at all. The American National Center for Education Statistics says that students who read at home are better readers, and that they even have better math scores. With technology shortening attention spans, what is a dad to do to encourage early reading and emphasize the importance of literacy?

Your job as a dad is to ensure that your kids have the best p0ssible access to a good education, and reading skills are some of the best ways to make sure of scholarly success. However, pushing kids to read against their will is not conducive to generating a love of reading, so you have to take creative steps toward inspiring a love of reading that comes on its own. Here are some tips that will help make early reading an activity that is both regular and enjoyable.

Start early and make it fun
Before they even start talking, bring books into their lives. Picture books, popup books, plush or inflatable tub books, all of these things imprint the fact that reading is important early on. Books with sound effects, mirrors, and other accessories also increase the fun.

Read with your children
Not just reading TO your kids, reading WITH them is effective. When you sit down with a good book, have your child sit with you and read their own book, or even better, read together. My kids and I have read several series together, including Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Narnia, and more.  We take turns reading aloud,  and adding in funny voices and sound effects only makes it more enjoyable. It not only improves their reading skills, it is genuine bonding time.

Provide alternatives and get creative
Don’t limit reading to just books, include newpapers, magazines, blog posts and websites for kids, and even comic books. Experiment with audio books for roadtrips, since many kids get carsick while reading printed material. Something fun to do with kids that enjoy serial books like the ones mentioned above: when a new movie based on a book comes out, try to compare and contrast the book and the movie. It increases their critical thinking and observational skills.