Little Johnny gets off the bus, scarfs down a snack, and flies out the front door to go play with the neighborhood kids. When he comes back in, the Wii is calling his name. It’s tough enough ensuring the homework gets done. Getting him to actually want to read on top of that seems nearly impossible. Here are 10 tips that will help turn Johnny’s reading from a chore into a treasure.
1) Invest in Books: Kids need high-interest, appropriately leveled books/magazines, and a lot of them! Ask your child’s teacher for reading level information and possible book suggestions. Find a local used book store or order some online at Scholastic.com. Children’s magazine subscriptions can generate a little excitement, too. It’s always fun for kids to get mail. My favorite kids’ magazines are Highlights, Time for Kids, Cobblestone & Cricket, and Sports Illustrated Kids.
2) Reading Nook: Designate a special cozy corner in the house for reading that is distraction-free. Keep your child’s books here along with some sort of a comfortable place for your child to sit or lie. Small touches such as dimming the lights or playing gentle music can really set the mood for reading.
3) Environmental Print: Make a habit of having your child read while out and about. Encourage your child to read store names, signs, menus, etc. This not only builds confidence but it shows your son or daughter the real-world value of reading.
4) Be Tech-Friendly: As much as we may dislike how glued our children are to technology devices at times, there are some great tools out there that promote reading. Check out this link 20 iPad Apps To Teach Elementary Reading, as well as the web site We Give Books. It carries hundreds of free, well-known online books for kids. Leap Frog offers some wonderful, kid-friendly products as well.
5) Book Bucks: Treat reading as a reward! In place of/in addition to the typical allowance, have children earn book bucks for household chores or good behaviors. When enough book bucks are earned, make a special trip to the store and give your child the freedom to choose any book(s) of interest.
6) Sight Word Work: A firm basis of sight words will make reading so much easier (and thus more enjoyable) for your child. Check out my blog Sight Words: Practice with Popular Games to discover ways to make sight word practice fun. SightWords.com provides some great resources for at-home use, too.
7) Spotlight Reading: Take the time to read aloud to your child while modeling fluency (appropriate pacing and expression). Give your child the chance to read texts orally to family members. The more theatrical the better! This is not only fun but the positive feedback from family members will be encouraging for your developing reader.
8) Book Trade: Have your child invite a friend or a neighborhood kid over with similar interests for a book swap.
9) Pair Books with Activities: Bring stories to life! For instance, if your child is reading Where the Wild Things Are, rent the movie! If your child is reading Curious George and the Pizza Party, make a pizza! There are tons of possibilities!
10) Timer Vs. Flexibility: Ultimately, we want children to read daily simply for pleasure without being reliant on a timer. This won’t happen over night, though. In the early stages, reading habits must be modeling modeled (by you) and learned. You know your child best! Use timers as you see fit. As he/she becomes more independent with reading, you can begin to release the reins.
I hope these tips help transform your reluctant reader into an eager one! Happy reading!