Getting your reluctant reader to read isn’t about turning him or her into a bookworm, but rather reinforcing and expanding skills that will be carried on into adulthood. Studies have consistently shown that reading develops vocabulary, strengthens comprehension abilities, and builds social skills.
When children are young, it should be emphasized that reading isn’t something that should be viewed as a chore. Adults need to set an example of reading simply for pleasure. Magazines, newspapers, brochures, and even web pages all have something of value to add to our life. A child that sees an adult reading is more likely to read him or herself.
Rewards of reading
We as adults know the benefits of reading. We also know that we are more apt to do something we don’t necessarily like to do if we know there is a prize involved. Setting up a reward system can start your child in the right direction. It can be as simple as a handmade chart. You and your child can decide what the reward will be at the completion of a book or set amount of time of reading. It could be a day of bowling, eating at a favorite restaurant, or even a new book at the book store!
Check your local library for reading programs. Most libraries have summer programs that reward children at different levels of reading time with various prizes. It could be a simple as t-shirts or as complex as tickets to a sporting event. Some libraries have programs for adults, too.
Older children may like to have a “book club.” If your child finds a book that she is excited about, offer to read the book on your own as well and decide when you will get together and discuss the context. Not only does this entice your child to read, but you help her build comprehension and complex thinking skills while spending valuable one-on-one time.
Some books have online websites that the child can access as he reads the book. The new series, The 39 Clues, are about a brother and sister that travel the world to find the “clues.” Once your child has read each book, he can go online (free account is required) he can unlock the next clue that will eventually solve the mystery.
Other books have other games that relate to the series. Books like Clifford and The Magic School Bus have fun content for kids to access.
Kidsreads.com is a fun website that offers trivia that kids can answer to books such as the Harry Potter Series, the Little House series, and Goosebumps.
Books aren’t everything
Reading for your child isn’t about completing a recommended reading list for his age group especially when he doesn’t like reading. Trying to force a list on him will only cause more friction. Instead, try to find things that he already is interested in and introduce literature on those subjects. For example, if your child is really interested in Legos, you can order him a free magazine subscription through their site.
Maybe your child is beyond the beginning-leveled readers, but still enjoy books that have pictures. Try to find some graphic novels. There are several series that a light and easy reads for even your most reluctant reader. Examples include Captain Underpants, Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, and the Stink series.
Newspapers are generally written on an eighth grade level, and while all the content may not be child-friendly, many children enjoy reading the small articles. Some schools have an articulation with local publishers and provide a paper weekly to the schools at no cost. Even if your child’s school doesn’t recieve this service, having “child-friendly” sections available for her perusal can be beneficial. Being able to discuss articles with your child is a bonus way to get her to open up about issues.
If there are books that your child shows an interest in, but perhaps they are written beyond his reading level, try to find the book on tape or CD at your local library. As the narrator reads, he can follow along in the book. This accomplishes two tasks at once– your child gets to enjoy a book he chose and having someone else read builds fluency.
Go to the web
In this day in age, there isn’t much that can’t be found online. Books are no exceptions. There are several great sites geared towards reading that also involve interaction. Starfall.com is great for beginning readers and helps in developing phonetics. Bookadventure.com invites readers from kindergarten to 8th grade to join. Readers can compile their own from an extensive collection of books, take quizzes, and earn points for prizes. PBS Kids has many games and activities that involve…reading! Your child can pick her favorite show and play along with the characters.
Still won’t read?
Trying to find a book (or books) that will click with your child may not be an easy task. If he doesn’t seem to get excited by fictional characters and their story lines then find out what subjects he enjoys. There are many non-fiction books geared toward children in various subject areas.
My Name is America is a series of geared toward boys from fourth to ninth grade. Written from the viewpoint of the child, these historical fiction books describe the joys and disappointments he experiences as he makes his life in America.
Dear America is similar to My Name is America but is geared towards girls. Written from the viewpoint of the child, she describes being involved in various points of history.
Other books worth trying and seem to be a favorite of all reluctant readers include: Guinness Book of World Records, I Spy, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Mad Libs, and joke books. Remember, it’s not always what your child reads, but that she in fact, reads.
A reader, finally?
Even if you are successful in finding what works for your child, that doesn’t mean he or she will become an avid reader. However, the more reading you are able to incorporate to your child’s day will only enhance the learning process. Even if your child reads just fifteen minutes a day, over one year he or she will have read just over ninety hours! That is time well spent.
The 39 Clues. Web. 27 July 2010. .
Bridwell, Norman. Clifford. New York: Scholastic, 1998. Print.
Cole, Joanna, and Bruce Degen. The Magic School Bus. New York: Scholastic, 1996. Print.
“DEAR AMERICA Series by Scholastic.” Kidsreads.com. Web. 27 July 2010. .
Kidsreads.com. Web. 27 July 2010. .
Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal. New York: Amulet, 2007. Print.
Learn to Read with Phonics. Web. 27 July 2010. .
“LEGO.com LEGO Club : LEGO Magazine.” LEGO.com LEGO Club : Home. Web. 27 July 2010. .
Mad Libs. Price Stern Sloan, 2008. Print.
Marzollo, Jean, and Walter Wick. I Spy. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.
McDonald, Megan, and Peter Reynolds. Stink: the Incredible Shrinking Kid. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2006. Print.
McWhirter, Norris D. The GUINNESS Book of World Records. Enfield: Guinness Superlatives, 2006. Print.
“MY NAME IS AMERICA by Scholastic.” Kidsreads.com. Web. 27 July 2010. .
PBS KIDS: Educational Games, Videos and Activities For Kids! Web. 27 July 2010. .
Pilkey, Dav. The Adventures of Captain Underpants: an Epic Novel. New York: Blue Sky, 1997. Print.
Read, Click and Win with BookAdventure! Web. 27 July 2010. .
Riordan, Rick, Gordan Korman, Peter Lerangis, Jude Watson, and Patrick Carman. The 39 Clues. New York: Scholastic, 2009. Print.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! New York: Scholastic, 2007. Print.
Russell, Rachel Renee. Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-so-fabulous Life. New York: Aladdin, 2009. Print.
“The Stacks for Kids | Scholastic.com.” Scholastic, Helping Children Around the World to Read and Learn | Scholastic.com. Web. 27 July 2010. .