Waging a war to get your child to read can never be won; the only true victory happens when you lay down your arms and befriend the fact that for some children, reading is like having to eat their vegetables...they only do it because a parent said it was good for them or a teacher makes them do it before they can move on to something 'fun'.
The more we treat reading like a chore or homework, the more children are going to become disengaged from the true purpose of books; to give the gift of another world, a new friend or a mirror to celebrate what makes us all truly unique.
Reading is independent
Even though an emerging reader will need help in the beginning, the goal of teaching a child to read is so they can become independent and do it on their own. Have books available for your child at their current reading level, not the reading level they are 'meant' to be. This may mean starting with picture books and building on literacy and language from their, but in their own pace. They should always be able to read the text comfortably and it doesn't always have to be out loud. Don't interrupt or correct unless they look for help. Asking questions after each book is a great way to promote reading comprehension and determining whether to increase the complexity of the stories. The more you encourage your children to take their own initiative the more confidence they will build. They won’t be afraid to give books a go and you will find they will naturally choose reading over other alternatives.
Reading is about choice
School children are seldom given the choice for what, when and where to read. By giving your child a choice outside of school, it will allow them to understand that there is a time and place for texts that serve a purpose in an educational setting, as well as books that are read purely for enjoyment. Take them to your local library and let them choose books that interest them. Don't judge or deny because you think it is above or below their capacity; you would be surprised how much value can be obtained from the most obscure book, all because it engaged a child in some way.
Reading is fun
Going back to the purpose of books, reading is meant to be a way of connecting, not only to the world around us, but to world's that only exist in our imagination. If you child prefers to read graphic novels, comic books or on a tablet, that has to be totally ok. For all its intrinsic educational value, reading is entertainment. Fun online reading games, reading apps and read along YouTube videos all have their place in modern literacy. How can we expect children to grow up to be life long readers if we place restrictions on the mode that engages them the most, whether it be paper or screen? There is room for both. Books have always come in all shapes and sizes, so reading is reading, no matter the medium. Focus on your child developing a passion for reading and everything else is just icing on the cake.
Do you have any other suggestions for why you agree that books are definitely dessert? I would love to hear from you.