Reading doesn’t have to be boring!
I am a reading teacher. I used to teach math, but when the opportunity came up to teach only reading and writing, I dropped math like a hot potato. Reading is my passion. I love to read. I love it more when I can convince an eight year old that they love to read too! There are a hundred different theories about reading out there. Some explain why kids love to read, some explain why kids hate to read. Others show that adults and kids alike either love to or hate to read. Hearing a child at the ripe old age of eight say that they hate reading truly crushes my heart. I then take it upon myself to manipulate that child into loving to read and write. I may not show the most growth on my school campus, but if I can make a child love to read, my job is a job well done.
Here are some of my favorite ideas to get kids reading more!
Let your child pick the book.
You may think your girly girl wants to only read about princesses, but she may have other ideas. My six year old loves her dolls and princesses, but in terms of reading, she likes Pete the Cat, or Stick Dog way more. Letting her decide what book we are going to grab at the library, or at the bookstore always surprises me. I keep veering her towards things I “think” she would like to read, but she always goes for the unexpected. When the book is age appropriate, my answer is always “Yes!” because at this point, reading is not about me, it’s about her and what she will enjoy.
Practice what you preach.
It’s hard for children to understand the difference between rules for kids and rules for adults. Show them how to get comfy, grab a snack, and cuddle up with a great book. We often all pile into my daughter’s bed, with our own books, and cuddle together to read silently. Your child will like to be close to you, and this will help model a desired behavior.
Build a fort, and grab a flashlight.
Create a fun, dark space for your child, then let them grab a super flashlight. Turn out all the lights, and let them sit and read. The flashlight will give them plenty of light to see the words and pictures, and they will think it is special!
Partner read with them.
My students love the “Read to Someone” station in my classroom. They are allowed to read anything they want to each other during this time. Often, they read their own writings out loud to one another. Other times, they take turns reading pages out of a book. Either way, they’re learning something. At home, this is a favorite of ours. My daughter is what we call an “emerging reader,” meaning she can definitely read, but she’s still learning. The reading endurance is difficult for her, so by giving her a break and me taking over, she doesn’t feel so overwhelmed by all the words and pages. If your child is hesitant to read, then this may encourage them to read more by taking some of the pressure off of them.
Read to your child.
Even my third graders, most of who can read amazingly well, love for me to read to them. Right now we are reading poetry, but it’s funny. This has changed how my students feel about poetry. The word and their exposure to poetry, can be boring and stuffy. But read them a silly poem, or a poem about poop, and they are hooked. My students love poetry because they think it’s funny. I love that I taught them what a stanza was, and they didn’t hate the experience. Find a book you loved as a kid, and read it to your child. Just have them sit and listen. It could totally change their mind about reading.
Try a reading challenge list.
Some kids hate to read, but are as competitive as the day is long. Give them a challenge list, and have them compete with you or a sibling. The first one to finish the challenge gets a prize. Ideas include: a. Read a fiction book. b. Read an informational text book. c. Read a book about an animal. d. Read a chapter book. e. Read a picture book. f. Read a book laying outside on a blanket. g. Read a book a friend recommended. h. Read a book about a far away country. i. Read a book your mom or dad loved when they were kids.
Have them read the book to earn the movie.
There are some fabulous books that are now fabulous movies. Read the book with your child, then have a big family movie night. Make it special with popcorn and treats. Kids love that they can compare the book and the movie, and it’s fun for the whole family, even the ones who can’t read yet. If your children are younger, then maybe read the book aloud to them.
Read to a far off family member or friend.
My Meme will gladly sit on the phone and let my six year old read to her. Many other family members are willing to do this as well. At this point, we may read the same picture book three or four times before she can read it fluently. So, we save the reading to Meme or someone else, as a treat for practicing over and over until we get it perfect. Then we plan ahead when everyone has some free time for the 15-20 minute phone call, or video chat.
Record an audio book.
It’s 2018. This one is fun and easy. Have your child record the audio or make a video of them reading. This will make reading fun and also allow them to listen to themselves read. There’s an app called voice recorder that allows you to do this for free!
Let them stay up later if they read.
My parents started this one with me. Bedtime was 8:00, unless I wanted to read for 30 minutes. So I could stay up until 8:30 if I was reading. I usually chose to stay up later and read. I felt like I was getting a treat for reading!