Change “I Hate to Read” into “I Love to Read” by Stephanie Morris
Do you have a child who isn’t interested in reading? Here are some tips.
FIRST: diagnose what the underlying cause is. Is your child struggling to read? Are there other more “fun” things that get in the way? Is she being bullied out of reading at school? Does he not have the types of books he likes or a place that makes reading enjoyable? There are many possibilities, but your efforts will be much more fruitful if you get to the bottom of it.
Read with your child. Observe. Are they bored? Are they unable to sound out or read words that they should know? See if you can find a reason (or two or three). Use these things as feedback to build on. Get different books; see if they hold their attention better. Or better yet, take them to the library and let them choose their own. If they’re struggling, work with them. There’s no hurdle too tall for a parent and child team!
Talk with their teacher to see what they’re noticing. Maybe they have a bully in their class that can’t read and shames everyone that can. Perhaps the teacher has noticed a distraction issue? Maybe the child’s behind the other readers (or ahead), and there’s simply not enough teacher-time to go around. Teachers are incredible and pick up on things that, as parents, we simply can’t. Plus, I don’t know a teacher in the history of my five children’s educational careers that didn’t appreciate my involvement in their learning. (And while you’re at it, tell those teachers how grateful we all are for all they do for our children.)
Ask your child some questions about reading, preferably open-ended ones that allow them to elaborate. More often, kids will be honest and tell you how it is, so get their input. Maybe they don’t like the books they have to read but would like something else. Perhaps they’re struggling but pretending everything’s okay, so they don’t disappoint. Maybe your questions will be the tipping point where they finally tell you about that bully or even someone who excels, making them feel inferior and want to give up.
Use your discoveries to assist your child(ren). If they see how important it is to you, they will follow your example, aim to please, or get excited because you’re spending special time/effort/attention on/with them. And I don’t know any kids that won’t do something if it’s fun!
How to make reading more fun:
Take time to make sure they CAN read. (How do you like being forced to do something that you can’t do or is challenging work?) It’s more important that they read and enjoy it than they get pushed to “read at grade level” or read books they hate. I have one son who went through a spurt where all he wanted to read was graphic novels, and even though I worried, I shouldn’t have. He loves to read and now reads “big boy” stuff. I have a daughter who struggled to keep up with her grade level. We read together a lot, and she made slow but steady progress. And even though she’s buried with high school honors classes at the moment, she just asked me to request a past favorite novel from the library for her to reread for fun. (Yep, proud parent moment!)
Read together! I read to my kids at bedtime until they were graduating from high school! No joke! We had created such a bond with books that sad were the nights that we got to bed too late to read. (And yes, sometimes begging did work because I’m a sucker for a good book.) But we started that early. Sit your littles on your lap and read a board book, pause and talk about the things they light up about; curl up in a corner with a pillow or make a fort for your toddler and elementary school kids and read picture books or books that are required for school. If they have a project and don’t want to tackle it, do it together and teach them that even books they don’t want to read can be worthwhile. And get books that are just for “together” reading to make it exclusive and special.
Make reading fun! Participate in a library summer reading program where kids track their progress with stickers or have an avatar on the computer. Set up a reading nook/tent/fort/cave in their room or even in a family space. (Yes, plan on crawling in there with them from time to time.) Plan rewards/recognition for reading, which can be as simple as a popsicle or as elaborate as your imagination allows. (Do not shame or belittle those that aren’t participating or achieving.) This is all about fun and positive reinforcement.
Have books! You don’t have to buy lots of books to have a stack or two in your house at all times. And even though reading on electronic devices is great, strive to have physical copies on your kid’s nightstand, the family room table, or a designated shelf in your office. (Or all three!) And if you want more books, have a birthday or holiday where all you ask for is kid’s books. (How fun would that be!)
Set the example! Loving to read is a place where kids will follow your lead. You go to the bookstore or library, take them with you. Get both of you a book (or a stack) to bring home. Read together or read alone together (read individual books while you spend time with each other). Talk about what you’re reading; ask about what they’re reading and discuss.
Bonus tip: allow and set parameters with your kids for late-night reading or make it possible for kids to “sneak” in their reading after bedtime. I sure appreciate my parents providing a reading light and letting me read late at night. I never felt like I was disobedient because I got up on my own and made it to school every day. And even now, that extra chapter is well worth sacrificing a little sleep!
· have your kids help you cook by reading the cookbook;
· let them listen to audiobooks sometimes;
· start a book club;
· read in the car on a trip-read out loud or have everyone bring their own books and have electronic-free time;
· get kids involved in a series-pretty soon they’ll want to read them all!
Helping your child read is one area that your efforts will never be wasted. Even if your child doesn’t become obsessed with reading, you’ll both benefit in many wonderful ways.