You might have missed it but National Read a Book Day just passed us by (it was on September 6th!) and given this new age of COVID-spurred sky-high screentime, how can parents encourage kids to spend more time offline reading? 

See below for some expert input from a knowledgeable expert—Jelani Memory. He is not only the co-founder of a screen time management solution, Circle Parental Controls but also the Founder and CEO of “A Kids Book About,” with the recent release, A Kids Book About Racism. On top of all that, he’s also a father of 6 kids! Read on for his tips on raising readers in a screen-dominated era and ways to get kids to put the screens down to read a book once in a while.

Q: What are your top tips for raising kids who love to read in this era dominated by screens, video games, social media? 

A: “To get your kids to love to read even when they could choose a TV, tablet, or smartphone is simple… start early. Read to your kid before they know you’re even reading. That means start when they’re a baby. Read early and often. When they get old enough to read on their own, keep reading with them.  Let them read to you. And talk about the stories and ideas from what you read afterward. Reading with them this much will simply get into their bones. It’ll give them confidence when they go to read by themselves and also cause them to go and do it automatically. This doesn’t mean that they’ll always choose to read, but it will be one of many options for finding entertainment throughout the day.”  

Q: In honor of National Read a Book Day, how do you recommend parents get their kids to put down the screens to read a book for a bit? 

A: “This one is easily said but not easily done…Put some time limits on your kids’ screen time. They won’t love the limits, but they won’t set them on their own. Just like you can find yourself scrolling Facebook endlessly for an hour, wondering where the time went, they do too. And they have lots more free time on their hands to do so. First, set some limits and then make reading a way to earn more screen time. They might find that they want to finish the chapter they’re reading even when they’ve earned more screen time.”  

Q: Aside from your own amazing books, what are some of your top picks for books that kids should read nowadays? 

A: “There are so many incredible books available now for kids. For the youngest ones, I recommend C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison. For kiddos slightly older, I recommend Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi and Bad Seed by Jory John. For kids who are in the tweenage, I think El Deafo by Cece Bell is incredible or Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier. And lastly for older kids, The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix or Black Panther by Ta=Nehisi Coates.”