One of the main questions I receive about my children is this- How do I get them to enjoy reading so much? People tell me that getting their children to read is difficult and frustrating. Here’s what I have discovered:
My oldest has two FULL bookcases in his room. His ultimate pastime is spent with his nose in a book…
Sometimes I catch him in the bathroom. He has taken WAY too long and it’s because he’s actually reading. Yes, on the toilet… reading.
Oh, and he’s 8!
My youngest is just beginning to learn how to read. He started out by thinking that “reading is just my brother’s thing. It’s not for me…”
All that changed. And now, he loves it too! I’ll explain HOW.
Want the truth? Reading really isn’t my thing. I would rather be planting, outside working, climbing trees, or really ANYTHING else… but that hasn’t stopped me from achieving this for my kids.
How did this happen?
Well, I can tell you that it didn’t happen overnight. But… it’s also possible to make it happen in your kid’s lives too!
There are really only two necessary things to provide in order to make your kids love reading. Here they are:
#1. Read to Them EVERYDAY
An amazing, seasoned teacher and mentor or mine once told me that reading allowed to children must never be left out of the day.
No matter what…
It doesn’t matter how busy or overwhelmed a schedule gets, reading aloud to children is a must.
I have found in my own life that it’s easy to forget this. Especially when it comes to the daily grind. Honestly, there are some days where I grab our chapter book (right now it’s Wonder by RJ Palacio) and simply read one-two pages and then go…
What’s the point?
- I kept up the interest of my kids in that book.
- We didn’t loose the daily habit of reading.
It’s ok that it was only for a few minutes. Although, I usually read between 10-20 minuets aloud to them.
Now, when they were younger, of course read picture books to them. See my post on Best Read Alouds Based on Age for some of my favorites.
How does reading to kids everyday work?
It’s simple really. It boils down to interest and reading fluency.
- Interest: People (kids included) don’t know how INCREDIBLY AWESOME AND INTERESTING books can be if they have never heard then for themselves. Furthermore, they won’t really know what topics interest them if they haven’t been able to explore various genres of literature.
- Reading Fluency: This is simply put is the ability to ready with good speed, accuracy, and expression. It is required to be a strong readier. It is also required for comprehesnion. When a child has been read to, he or she will naturally pick up some great reading fluency skills that will help them be a strong reader with comprehension skills (which are necessary in order to enjoy reading).
- I won’t get too much into is, but Syntax (how sentences are formed and understood) also plays an important role in reading development and is learned mostly through listening.
#2. Institute QUIET READING as a Daily Activity
I started this very young with my children. In fact, I think some people thought I was a bit crazy…
I would set my barely 2 year old in a big chair with a PILE of picture books and tell him that he had to stay there and look at them. You guessed it, I was making lunch. It was very convenient not to have him under my feet at that time, but more than that…
It taught him that reading quietly alone was something to do every day. Even though he was just looking at pictures and turning pages. With practice, it became interesting to him.
As he grew, he would ask me to read them to him. I would simply tell him that he had to read alone for now and I could read it to him for bedtime.
Side note: I never told the kid he couldn’t read. To us, looking at the pictures and flipping pages was reading... I also always had a variety of complex and simple text for him. It may have been way above his reading ability at the time, but that never stopped him from enjoying that book.
A few tried and true tips for success with quiet reading:
- If you’re not already doing this daily, anticipate some negativity from the kids. Push through. It will work… I promise!
- Use a timer to keep track of this activity.
- Start with a small amount of time on the timer and gradually increase. It’s totally fine to start with 5 minutes and do that for a week. (My kids will easily quite read for an hour.)
- Play some relaxing piano music or study classical music in the background.
- Give your kids A LOT of books to choose from (If they aren’t into chapter books yet). Stack that pile up and let them flip through as many as they want. If they are into chapter books, don’t require it. Let their interest drive what text they are reading.
If you’re a Type A Personality or a Helicopter Mom…don’t skip this next part!
Remember that the purpose of the quiet reading time is not for reading accuracy or even reading practice.
Let me explain, you may discourage them from enjoying this time by forcing them to “read every word” or by having them summarize what they read when they are through. (They get enough of that at school).
This time is to practice the enjoyment that comes from reading (flipping through, looking at pictures) in a relaxed and peaceful environment… with stacks of books that peek interest. Period.
Where I once heard “mom, this is boring..” Now I hear “mom, please let me finish this last book!”
You can do it, momma! Teaching the enjoyment of reading will serve your kids for a lifetime. It will benefit them in school, college, and into their adulthood. Take these simple steps to foster a true love of reading.
Now, that’s worth it!
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