Most schools across the country set a reading goal for a nightly assignment. For most kids, these required reading minutes often lead to a feeling that reading is just another item to check off at night. While reading time can quickly turn into a battle between kids and parents, there are many kids who simply love to read and can’t say no to a good book.
Reading can be incredibly polarizing. While some kids gravitate to phonetics and stories, other children have a great difficulty decoding and comprehending. Reading can be a source of both pleasure and frustration, depending on where the child lies on the literacy spectrum.
The good news for parents is that every child can—and should!—develop an appreciation for books and reading. Even when reading is a struggle for a child, there are ways to encourage a love of stories and books.
What works for one parent, though, might not work for others. So the big secret is looking at different solutions that help draw kids to reading. For parents with kids who struggle with reading or for those kids who just dislike sitting down to read, here are a few ways to help them discover the fun and joy of a good book.
- Read aloud to kids.
When parents take the lead instead of forcing a child to read alone, story time and books take on a whole new light. Kids can focus on the story and enjoy the time with their parents. Reading to a child doesn’t take away from literacy; in fact, reading aloud helps increase phonetic awareness, comprehension and storytelling ability. Parents should ask children questions about the plot and the character’s responses to events in the story. Kids and parents can also trade off by each reading a few pages.
- Set a reading example.
You’ve heard it many times: parents who read have children who read. When kids see parents reading a book, they are more likely to equate reading with pleasure. They also are more likely to emulate the behavior. Read a book when your child reads. You can even read the same book and have a family book club. You’ll be surprised at how a book you read in youth translates when you read it as an adult. When I read “Ramona & Her Father” as an adult with my son, I saw the story in a whole new light—from the viewpoint of Ramona’s parents.
- Encourage kids to pick their own book.
Kids have enough assignments in their lives. Don’t pick their books for them. Take kids to the library and allow them to select their own books and stories. Or personalize a book to make them an original character within the book…and have them read their part of the story!
- Don’t set a timer or look at the clock.
Yes, I’m sure their teacher requires 15 minutes of reading. However when parents actually time the reading, it feels like everyone just looks at the clock. Don’t time reading. In my experience, the clock often takes away from a child actually immersing in the story. Instead, set other goals. Read a chapter or two together. For younger kids, have them choose two or three small story books (depending on their reading levels) and read them together. Then, call it a night.
- Reward reading milestones.
Motivate kids who don’t like to read or who have reading struggles with a reward system. Make a sticker chart that provides rewards after the child reads a set number of books. Maybe for every five books, they receive more screen time (if that’s their love). Choose rewards that help motivate the individual and be sure to praise them for a job well done!
While some kids naturally love reading, others just loathe sitting down to read. For kids who struggle or just don’t like to read, parents can still pave the way to encourage a love of reading. Reading shouldn’t be a fight between kids and parents…otherwise reading will just become another assignment. Turn reading time into a fun experience. Read to kids, encourage them to choose their own books and reward them along the way. And, most importantly, be the example: parents need to read, too! Happy reading!