When my son went to bed last night, this is what he found on his pillow - a Coles bookstore bag, with a book-sized lump in it.
You're eight, you don't feel like going to bed, you're dragging your feet, prolonging the inevitable... and then you find a new book in your bed.
The whole situation suddenly changed. His face lit up, and he thanked me like crazy.
Giving a book as a "just because" and "for no reason" gift is a great way to get your kid reading.
And it helped that it's a book there's some buzz about, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. Many parents have been telling me how much their kids are enjoying it--those who like fantasy and even those who normally don't.
I haven't read it yet (I'm going to), but it's based on Greek mythology; Percy discovers that he's a demi-god--a son of Poseidon, who rules the sea. He finds out there are other living Greek gods in the world, both good and evil. He meets up with them, has some battles, and presumably finds out some things about himself in the process. Here's a slightly longer synopsis.
There's a series of five books, and the movie is due out this month in the US and Canada (I'm not sure about the UK or other countries, but I would assume so).
Hiding a good book in your child's bed is a fun way to stall bedtime for just a few minutes--and get your kid reading.
The Percy Jackson books started out as tales the author told to his son, who was studying Greek mythology in Grade two. Eventually, he wrote them down and now... well, now he's a ba-jillionaire. Ka-ching! Wait until my writers' group hears about this.