One of the most popular questions that I get asked is how do I get my child (or students) to enjoy reading? That is such a great question and kudos to you for knowing the importance of literacy.
Often times, as teachers, we have the same question too. A lot of people think that it is very hard to build lifelong readers and it can be true. I mean, we are competing with razor scooters, video games and the latest YouTube stars. These children are used to instant gratification and it takes a lot to hold their attention. But, and this is a big but, once they love to read, nothing else can stand a chance. Not only that, but many studies show that children who read are academically a year ahead when compared to those who do not read. Other studies even show that kids who read daily have a much higher chance at passing state assessments.
These are my tips and tricks to get your child interested in the wonderful world of books. These ideas can be used in the classroom or at home.
They are watching you!
First (and pretty much most importantly) your child needs to see you reading every single day. Please understand that I am not saying your child needs to see you reading them a bedtime story every day. While that is amazing and read aloud‘s are so important to their fluency progression a child looks to you as their main example. In the classroom during silent reading time I get on the floor and read with the kids. They love to sit next to me and ask me about the book that I am reading. This can be any book or even a magazine if you don’t find yourself to be much of a book lover. They just need to see you in action.
Reward them with reading
Your child needs to see reading as a reward and a fun past time. I am NOT saying that you reward them FOR reading. I am saying to reward them WITH reading. When you reward students with other things just because they read you are showing them that reading is a chore or a task on a checklist and not something you do for fun.
Right now, you may use toys or ice cream as a treat for good grades or positive behaviors. Have you ever considered using a trip to the bookstore? One of the best ways to get your child excited about reading is to show them that reading is a treat! Going to Barnes and Noble or the library can be a total adventure. Even browsing the Amazon book section together and picking out cool titles can be a fun activity that your child looks forward to. I mean who doesn’t love a good Amazon box at their doorstep?
I have discovered an amazing collection of books! They are called Scholastic Branches Books. They are beginning chapter books with fun graphics and easy to read content. They have different series so once a child finds on that they like, they are able to continue reading the series. They remind me a lot of graphic novels which is a style of book I recommend to all of my students who are struggling to get into reading. They are set up like comics but tell a full story. I have not met a student who does not like them. They fly off of my shelves!
Comfy places to read are important as well. Whether it is in the classroom or at home it is a great idea to have designated reading spots. You can set up a bench by the window with fun pillows or you can add a blanket to your outdoor furniture that is easy to curl up with. In the classroom, you can add fun pillows and chairs that are used for free reading time. You can even let the students go under the tables to make it more exciting and fun for them. It is crazy to see how environment changes experience when it comes to reading and pretty much anything else. Think about how you feel when you are in a clean and well decorated room as opposed to a messy uncomfortable place – it totally changes how you feel and your mood. This holds true with reading!
Start a book club
Book clubs are another great way to get readers excited. Perhaps you can go to the store with a neighbor friend or a classmate and pick out the same book. You can set up a play date each week where the kids can discuss the book maybe draw some pictures from it and have a snack together. This will become an activity that they look forward to. You can easily implement this in the classroom as well. Pair up students with similar interest in groups and have them read once per week or once per day depending on your schedule. On a certain day a month they can bring in snacks to share with each other while they discuss their book and complete different activities that you have set up. You can even tie in these activities with the current standard that you are working on.
Never underestimate a bedtime story
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that bedtime stories do not make up for seeing you reading. That is not to say that bedtime stories are not important. I will tell you that one of the highlights of my students day is me reading aloud. They love to hear me share a new story and always remind me if I’m even a few minutes late. It is the same way at home. Whether you choose to read at bedtime, when they get home from school or even in the morning, make it a special time that you and your child enjoy together. You will see that they start to look forward to it I may even ask you to read the same book over and over again. Read with different voices and don’t be afraid to sound silly. They are listening and they are learning. As they soak it all in you want to be giving the best example that you can. You may even choose to let them read a page or two – this can be an exciting time for them to read in the same way that you were reading. Challenge them to change their voice for different characters and to read with expression.
There are books out there for everyone. Start out with a great book stack that includes books that your child will be interested in. There are Minecraft books, Barbie books, gaming books, sports books…the list goes on and on. Yes, there are even books about farts and butts. You’d be surprised but this is very appealing to your typical third-grade boy. My point is there something out there for everyone. Get out there and explore the endless fun of books.