June 1, 2010

Raising a Reader

All of us want our children to love reading. So how can we make that happen? First, we have to demonstrate to our children that we love reading. Make sure they see you reading regularly, and not just the things you have to read. Let them see you read for pleasure. I know we are overscheduled, but have a "for fun" book lying around that you can read in snatches. You only may get one or two pages read at a time, but eventually, you'll finish that book and your children will see you reading it.

Secondly, read to them as often as you can. Not just picture books. We usually sit on my bed as a family at night and I'll read a chapter of a good book to them. Sometimes it is books they've read a million times (like the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series), and sometimes it is a book that I've known they would love, but they haven't taken the initiative on yet. Usually when I do that, they realize how great the book is and get impatient with my one chapter a night rule. I'll find the children snatching the book up themselves during the day and getting several chapters ahead. Make your reading time exciting. I get a color book for the six year old, who finds it hard to just sit and listen, and some toy cars for the three year old, who finds it impossible to just sit and listen. He stays on the bed though because we are all cuddled together. I also use exciting voices and dramatic sound effects, which keeps them all entertained.

Next, make sure you have lots of books around. Have a bookshelf loaded in each child's room. Make sure there are books both at their reading level and above. Stretch them. Even if your budget doesn't allow for the purchasing of many books (and I recommend making sacrifices in other areas to allow that), become a fixture at your local library. When the four children and I go, we're bringing back a laundry basket full of books, and leaving with one. Our librarians know us we are there so often. One of them even saves new books behind the counter for us that she thinks we will enjoy.

All this may sound great and easy when you have willing readers, but what about the reluctant reader, or the child who just finds reading much more challenging than others? To that child, it is important that what they are reading on their own is easy for them. Make sure the books you give them to read independantly are actually below their reading level. You want them to feel succesful. You read the books to them that are at and above their level, so their cognitive interest in more complicated plots doesn't atrophy.

One other thing we have done is create a rule that if there is a movie based on a book, you cannot watch the movie until you've read the book. You will be amazed at what a motivator this is. Children will read things well above their reading level to get a good movie. I still remember when my then seven year old read The Fellowship of the Ring, just to get to see the movie. That book would have normally been hard work for him, but the thought of the movie made it a pleasurable task. He loved the first movie so much that he picked up Two Towers the very next morning to get to the sequel.

We are a book loving family. Even my one reluctant reader now reads for pleasure, and the six year old will plow through any book, no matter how hard. I actually caught her trying to read the Hobbit the other day. Her brother had told her they were making a movie about it.

Annmarie is a single mom who homeschools her four children. You can learn more about Annmarie on Facebook, or through her blog: http://www.annmarieathome.blogspot.com/

3 comments - Add a comment below -:

max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it, especially boys.

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series - is coming out in August. .

Max Elliot Anderson
PS. My first 7 books are going to be republished by Comfort Publishing later in 2010

"Sam Cooper Adventures are like good, family movies . . . as an ordinary kid finds himself in exciting and extra-ordinary adventures!" Bill Myers - author

"Max Elliot Anderson brings a lifetime of dramatic film and video production to the pages of his action adventures and mysteries." Jerry B. Jenkins, Author

JRoberts said...

Our library in the past two cities have had used book sales twice a year. You can pick up books for pretty cheap and it expands your library at home quickly. (and rebinding a book is still way cheaper than buying it new!) This is how I have aquired MANY of my books.

CoffeeShopBloggers said...

Here's a great list for encouraging reluctant readers by child first at http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=7544

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

I blog on children's lit, parenting and education