Does your child hate to read? Are you frustrated that they refuse to pick up a book, and instead, would rather play on their phone or watch TV? Are you tired of arguing about reading? If so, you’re not alone. Many parents struggle with a reluctant young reader.
What most parents do with this problem is to argue. They force their kid to read as part of their homework, which turns reading into a burden and actually makes kids even more resistant to reading. If you ignore this issue now, it’ll get much worse. But how do you encourage reading when it’s the last thing they want to do? Check out these six solutions below to inspire reading in even the most hesitant bookworm.
Be a Detective
The first step is figuring out what interests your child. Does your son or daughter love baseball? Looking up stats on their favorite player and reading their bios is definitely reading. And so are the articles in Sports Illustrated for Kids. Once you get your child hooked, take it one step further by finding related books on the subject. Check out “Katie, Batter Up!” by Coco Simon or the “Baseball Great Series” by Tim Green. These books will get your children reading without them even realizing it.
Dig into a Series
Even the most reluctant readers will latch onto a series such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” or engage in the short passages of “The Guinness Book of World Records.” Don’t worry about whether or not the book is a classic or is top-notch literature. The point is to get your child reading. And quite often, when a child enjoys a book, she’ll seek out the next book in the series or another title by the same author.
Reread a Favorite Book
Did you know that students improve their reading fluency when they read a passage or book three times? Repeated readings help with automaticity, not just at that time, but down the road as well.
Moreover, comprehension and fluency are boosted when the student reads books slightly below his current reading level. If your child tends to gravitate towards easier books, allow him to do so.
Use the Five-Finger Rule
Some parents often make the mistake of choosing a book for their child that is a little harder to read than his current level. If you’re unsure if the book is too difficult, use the five-finger rule. If your child mispronounces five or more words on one page, the book is too hard.
If he misses four words, reading will be a challenge, but can be done. In that case, consider reading the book together; you read two pages and your child reads one. Children will find more enjoyment in reading when you use this 2:1 ratio. If only two or three mistakes are made, the book is at the child’s interest level and is A-OK. And when your youngster can read an entire page perfectly, the book is likely a bit too easy, but for some very reluctant readers, that is perfectly fine.
Unplug the Electronics
Block out time each evening for reading. That means turn off the television, put down the iPhone and tablet, and have your child sign-off Snapchat or Instagram. Similar to “D.E.A.R” in school, use 15 or 20 minutes before bedtime to “Drop Everything And Read.” This is a great time to instill the love of reading without the distractions of technology.
Relax and Read without Criticizing
Take time to sit back, relax and read aloud with your kids. Take turns, laugh together and enjoy the moment. As much as possible, don’t correct your child’s mistakes unless they detract from the meaning of the story. As soon as kids feel pressured or judged, they’re less willing to do the task at hand. When your child begins to associate reading with evening relaxation and the fun of delving into a page-turning book, he’ll be more likely to read independently and for pleasure later on.
Just remember, each child is different and reading is not something to be forced or thrust upon them. Encourage reading by introducing a variety books and materials. If you feel as though there may be more behind your child’s reluctance to read, consider getting a reading tutor.
Ann Dolin is a former Fairfax County teacher and current founder and president of Educational Connections Tutoring, serving the D.C. area.