Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tips for Encouraging Reluctant Readers

Reluctant readers often resist our encouragement to read more. I think the most successful ways are based on attracting our kids to reading, rather that promoting more reading. Here are some tips for ways you may not have tried yet.
Read alouds
This is my number one tip for increasing interest in books. You may have stopped reading to your child when he first learned to read. If so, I encourage you to start again. Reading aloud, for as long as your child allows it, has lots of benefits:
  • gives your child the opportunity to “read” the books she wishes she could but can’t yet
  • shows that you value reading
  • conditions your child to associate reading with pleasure
  • creates background knowledge
  • builds vocabulary
Model reading
Let your child see you reading. To quietly demonstrate the benefits of reading, point out some interesting stuff from what you are reading.
Offer a wide range of reading materials
  • fiction
  • informational (nonfiction)
  • graphic novels
  • picture books
  • magazines (kid and adult)
  • comic books
  • Closed captioning: Turn on the closed captioning while you watch TV. Closed captioning didn’t exist when my son was young, so I can’t say much about this. If you try it, let me know how it works! 
Read the Books Your Child Reads
There are lots of wonderful kids’ books out there. If you read some of the books your child reads, you’ll have something to talk about. Ask your child for some recommendations. Also, consider reading books he’s reading for class. 
Read to younger kids, pets
Even though I was a decent reader as a student, I hated reading aloud in class. It wasn’t until I started babysitting and reading to my charges that I lost my aversion to reading aloud. Reading to younger kids and pets offers lots of practice with easier books and starts to build confidence.
Audio Books
I’m a big fan of audio books and always have one in my car. I have warm memories of listening to audio books with my son while on trips. Audio books give the same benefits as read alouds.
Book series
When I find an author I like, I’ll often check out if she has more books with the same characters. They become familiar, a little like family. Kids often feel the same way. Book series offer built-in reading motivation. Even if the reading level becomes more difficult, the motivation often remains. Motivation is good!
Special interest books
Give your child books about his special interests. His background knowledge will make somewhat challenging text not so challenging, because he already has a clue as to what it’s about.
Poetry and Joke books
There are some pretty entertaining poetry and joke books out there. Consider checking some out from the library and taking turns sharing poems that appeal to you and jokes that crack you up.
Go to the library
Let your child pick out whatever books she chooses – even if you think they are too easy or too hard. And then, when you get home, allow her to choose whether or not she reads them! Libraries are all about choices.
In the library, consider finding a shelf that looks good to you, sitting down, and pulling books off the shelf to look at. This keeps you out of your child’s face and models that books interest you. Do the same with magazines. There are many fun kids’ magazines that teach me something new every time I read them.
Family stories
Most families have stories. Consider writing some of them down. Maybe even putting them in a book to read at bedtime.
Resources I used for compiling these tips
What are some ways you've attracted your child to read more? Write them in the Comment box!

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