Clever Hints & Tips for Getting Your Kids to Read
Adapted from Imagination Soup by Melissa Taylor
You want your child to love reading, right? But, not only is your child a reluctant reader, she hates reading. And, you need some ideas to get her “into” books.
My daughter didn’t like reading for a long time. And, I thought I knew what to do. After all, I was a literacy expert (haha) and avid reader myself. Just like you, I felt stumped. So, I got extra creative and found some new ideas that worked. So, try these ideas, hang in there, and remember that every child is on their own continuum of learning. With that goal in mind, here are my guerilla tactics, strategies you can try to get your reluctant reader reading.
Guerrilla Tactics To Get Your Child To Love Reading
- Leave piles of books lying around the house. At first glance, this may appear messy, it is. But, it works. My daughter, AJ, has rarely passed up a picture book, comic book, or magazine without glancing through or even reading it. (Yes, she’s 9-years old and still reads pictures books, which I encourage. I count everything. Picture books are generally at a 4th grade reading level actually.)
- Play audio books in the car and at home. This summer, AJ’s school assigned five books to read. She refused to read them. So, I got the books on CD. Once I popped in the story, and we listened to a few minutes, she was hooked! (The White Giraffe and Jack Plank Tells Tales were two such books and she ended up loving both.)
- Read the book out loud until your child is hooked; let them continue on their own. You might get “too busy” to continue. (Or get a sore throat. Whatever.) Watch your child pick up the book and read to herself because she must know what happens. I did this with Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat which really was a terrific story.
- Unlimited library book check out. Are you setting a limit on books? My suggestion is to not set limits — or set them high. Why not let your kids pick 25 books? Are we trying to encourage lots of reading or not? I let each of my kids fill a large tote bag. Try it. You’ll see how excited your kids get about going home to read all their new books! It’s like magic.
- Money to spend at the bookstore — on any reading material.
- No television during the weekdays and very minimal television on the weekend. (1 – 2 hours.) This means NO television in the background either. Ever. Again, try it and you’ll see for yourself. (Let them get bored – they’ll live. Maybe they’ll even pick up a book.)
- Limited number of after-school activities. If you want your child to read, that child needs free time – he can’t be overbooked and too busy to read. Think about your priorities. I would even go so far to say that if you have a struggling reader, skip after school activities until your reader is up to speed with reading. Invest everything in literacy. It’s the most important skill from which to build.
- Allow your child to choose what they read. It’s way more motivating when a child gets to choose.
What Kids Need at Home and School
Lots of books. Reading a lot of books improves reading ability. As in practice makes better. This is the big difference between struggling readers and good readers. While good readers read a lot, struggling readers do not and continue to not improve.
Just-right books. Read appropriate books that are not too challenging. Really. Use the 5 finger test. Or remember the 1 in 20 rule. In a just-right book, the child should only misses 1 in 20 words.
As far as what should happen at school, educator Alfie Kohen says, “Children are likely to become enthusiastic, lifelong learners as a result of being provided with an engaging curriculum; a safe, caring community in which to discover and create; and a significant degree of choice about what (and how and why) they are learning.”
Well said, don’t you think?
More Reading Resources:
Catching Readers Before They Fall by Pat Johnson and Katie Keier
What Really Matters in Fluency by Richard Allington
Reading Rockets website
Selling Reluctant Readers: 10 Marketing Tactics to Amp Up Fun (great post by Shaping Youth!)
Don’t forget your ultimate goal:
The goal is that my child loves reading. Loving reading happens when my child discovers that the book itself is the reward.
Melissa Taylor is a freelance writer and blogger, an award winning educational blogger at ImaginationSoup.net, an award winning teacher with a M.A. in Education, the Book Editor-at-Large for Colorado Parent Magazine and a parent of two children, ages 6 and 9.