Just like sports or any other skill in life, no one becomes a good reader without practice. Just reading in school isn’t enough; children have to read more outside of school. So what do you do if the child in your life says they’re bored by reading, or hasn’t ever found a book that interests them? Here are 12 tried and true ways to get your child pepped up on reading:
1. READ ALOUD SOMETHING EVERY DAY: Your kids hear your voice in their heads, and use you as role models. Read to them with lots of expression. It’s never too early to start, and don’t stop just because they’ve reached a certain age or reading ability.
2. LAUGH A LOT AS YOU FOOL AROUND WITH LANGUAGE: Word play is the first step in developing language and, most important, a sense of humor. Read riddles, crack jokes, and let your kids laugh as they learn.
3. ACT OUT STORIES: You want your little readers to become immersed in the story they’re reading. Creative drama is the ultimate way of becoming a part of the story! Acting out a story enables listeners to gain fuller comprehension from what they’re hearing and reading. Encourage your kids to take parts and recreate stories with you.
4. TELL STORIES: Tell your kids stories, including family folktales passed down for generations, family anecdotes about the relatives, and made-up stories you tell off the cuff or add onto night after night. All humans need stories, not just the ones written down.
5. ENCOURAGE DRAWING: Some kids think in pictures, so encourage it! Encourage your child to draw pictures to go with their favorite story, or the one you just read to them. Staple some sheets of paper together and have them draw pictures from their imagination, and then have them tell you the story to go with it. Drawing is a natural way to get kids excited about reading and writing.
6. LEARN A NEW FACT EVERY DAY: Everything you read makes you smarter. Children can easily learn at least one interesting, intriguing, or astonishing fact every single day. Pick up some children’s non-fiction books and wow them with facts that make them curious to find out more about the world and their place in it.
7. ASK AND ENCOURAGE QUESTIONS: When you read aloud to your children, ask questions to see if they understand the story, to explain unfamiliar vocabulary, and to cue them in on things they might not “get” on their own. If you are asking and answering questions, that means they really understand and are putting themselves into the story. That’s exactly what you want!
8. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE: Whenever you can, take your children on field trips to museums, concerts, plays, parks, colleges, and sporting events. Everywhere we go can be an event and a learning opportunity. Read billboards and signs on the way, brochures and catalogs, playbills and maps. The more they experience, the more they will be able to connect with the stories they read.
9. LOVE YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR LIBRARY: Set a good example by having books around and let your kids see you reading. Make regular visits to your library for a steady supply of books or magazines to read. Get your child their very own library card to give them ownership of their own reading experience. Studies have shown that schools with well-stocked libraries and knowledgeable librarians have higher reading scores, so support your school libraries, too!
10. LOOK FOR OLDIES BUT GOODIES: Mix up the latest greatest books like Harry Potter or the “Diary of a wimpy kid” series with books that have stood the test of time. If a book in your childhood really touched you, whether it was “Charlotte’s web” by E.B. White or “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, share them with the young readers in your life.
11. LOOK FOR WHAT'S NEXT: When your child finds an author or series they love, they’ll eagerly grab the next one. Series books like “Lemony Snicket” or “Nancy Drew” allow children to enjoy a successful reading experience. Kids get to know a set of characters who become dear friends. Use series books as a bridge to other books on the same theme or subject or by the same author. We want to see our kids grow as readers, and we’re grateful to authors for dreaming up so many plots to keep them enthralled.
12. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: Parents are the first book selectors for their children. If you liked a book, the child in your life probably will too. But don’t be offended if one of your suggestions doesn’t work out; just try another one. You can also stash books around for your kids to discover on their own. Check out the Sno-Isle Kids web page for booklists we’ve put together, or talk to a librarian at the Information Desk. We’re always on the lookout for good books!
Adapted from Judy Freeman’s blog