One of the things I am asked most often, is ‘how do I get my child to read?’
Threats, coercion, and bribery, may work in the short term, but this does not work in the long term. When children have difficulty decoding, it becomes even more difficult, because reading requires more effort, and quite simply, it is easier to watch the movie.
If your child reads by choice, for pleasure then you have succeeded.
Whilst I don’t profess to have all the answers, here are some ways that you can encourage reading.
1. Model, Model, Model
If your child sees you (and everyone in the family) taking time out to read for pleasure, then they will view reading as a pleasurable activity rather than a work. Conflicting messages from mom versus dad (or vice versa), will convey conflicting messages to your child. If one parent is not a big reader, in terms of books, it doesn’t mean that they don’t read for pleasure/information. Many people read online using tools for content curation. For example Flipboard or Feedly.
If you are reading on a tablet, make sure your child knows that you are reading by sharing information with them.
2. Read to your children (even when they can read!)
We know that reading to young children is important, but many parents give up reading to their children when their children have ‘mastered’ the beginning reading phase.
The range of interesting and enjoyable books are not for beginning readers. Reading becomes enjoyable when you are able to read what you want to, for whatever purpose you want to.
The books that I tend to read range in genres depending on my mood. If I am not enjoying it, I stop reading it; because I can! I find something else to read, because I can read whatever I want to.
Read books with your child that are exciting and interesting for them. Enjoy the stories together, discuss them, and use strategies such as Story Grammar Structure to facilitate comprehension, prediction, and narrative structure.
Cath Jenkin shared her secret on Twitter. You read one page, your child reads one page. No-one wants to stop, until you’ve found out what happens next.
3. Audio Books
Audio books take so much pressure off children and they are great for travelling. Whilst different kinds of books can be obtained to suit children, I recommend listening to at least one book together so that you can monitor whether your child is listening. Pairing an audio book together with the written book is a great way to get children to finish the story by reading the book.
You will find some good suggestions suitable for children of different ages on Audible
4. Following Instructions
Cooking and baking together, building lego, assembling a toy, or even playing a new game, all require READING.
Ask your child to read the recipe, while you get all of the ingredients. Read the ‘method’ and discuss the steps involved. You can always ask your child to ‘remind you’ what to do next, if you forget.
Instead of you reading the instructions for a new game, get your child to read the instructions and explain the rules to everyone. Sometimes, the instructions for a game are in very small print which makes reading more difficult. The beauty having access to the internet is that you can usually find the instructions online. Copy and paste them into a document so that reading is easier for your child. Alternatively, enlarge the print by photocopying.
Building lego, models, or toys, requires reading and following the instructions. Many children will sit and build for hours, attending to the minute details of the instructions.
They are reading.
5. Digital Resources
Digital books such as Book Creator are really motivating for children. They can create their own books, stories, or journals and read them using the audio record feature within the app, or read their stories to others once they have published their book on ibooks
However, young children’s keyboard skills are often not very good and they spend ages typing out one word. They become disillusioned, and often abandon the project before they have even started. I have found that a more successful way is to encourage them to write their stories and journals by hand. Spelling and handwriting are unimportant at this stage because the end product, once transferred to the digital book will look perfect. Once they have written the story, your child can read it to you, whilst you type the content into the digital book.
If your child wants to do the typing, that’s great! It will improve their keyboard skills. Show them how to use predictive text and spelling so that the end product is something for them to be proud to share.
I Fake Text Message
I bet that if you allow your child to read text messages, they will!
I Fake Text Message is a fantastic way to create a whole lot of reading material for them to read.
I would love to hear about some creative ways that you could use this to encourage reading.