Friday, April 1, 2011

5 Simple Steps to Encourage Your Child to Read

Children who are reluctant readers typically struggle for two reasons; either they experience difficulty with one or more of the technical aspects of reading (decoding, fluency, comprehension etc.) or they find it boring. While each can seem daunting for parents and children to overcome, with a little planning, creativity and perseverance, you can help jump start your child’s interest. 

5 Simple Suggestion to Get Your Child Reading (Yes, your child!):
Allow your child to base reading choices on what captures his/her interest- whether it is a friend’s recommendation, an interesting topic, colorful cover or catchy title. Getting caught up in reading levels will only succeed in squeezing the fun out of reading! And, consider non-traditional reading sources. Magazines, cookbooks, comics, books on tape and television with the closed-captioning feature activated and the volume off are great ways to build interest in reading.

Books should be prominent throughout your house! Keep a well stocked bookcase in your child’s room, their play area, near the living room armchair, and beside the potty. Keep a stack of books by your bedside table to entertain early-risers while you try for a few more minutes of shuteye. Stuff the backseat of your car with books for road trips and errands and your purse for trips to the doctor’s office or restaurants.

Allow your child’s interests to inform their book choice. Do you have a daughter who loves Disney’s Cinderella? Use that as a springboard to explore Cinderella stories from other cultures and fractured fairy tales based on Cinderella, as well as other classic fairy tales. Encourage your budding reader to explore books in a way that is comfortable for them. Do they choose to ask “why” at every opportunity, flip through pages in random order, focus solely on the illustrations, or move around while you are reading? Let them! 

Give books and books become desirable! Take every opportunity to alter your child’s mindset so that they begin to view books as a welcome and coveted commodity. Subscribe to a monthly magazine, join a Book-of-the-Month Club, and take regular trips to the library and book store. Use books as a reward or bribe! Allow children to stay up a little later as long as they are reading. Build an association between reading and coveted time with a parent. 

Let your children see you enjoying books! Read aloud to them at night, giggle with the absurd rhymes of Dr. Seuss, bring to life the voice of Eloise, and revel in the magic of Harry Potter. Build a fort of pillows to curl up in, read under the sheets with a flashlight or in a tent outside.  And, be sure to let children see you enjoying reading. Curl up with a novel in the evening or flip through the newspaper after breakfast. Enjoy a magazine article about your favorite sports team, share books with your friends, and discuss favorite stories with anyone who will listen! Children who see their parents derive enjoyment from reading are more likely to pursue reading themselves. 

If you try all of these strategies and are still faced with a reluctant reader, don’t disparage. Growing lifelong readers is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at it and your child will eventually come around. Happy reading!


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