Required points. Book reports. Minimum minutes. Reading homework can become quite the daily struggle, especially for those “reluctant” readers.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see your child pick up a book and read just because they want to? Many experts recommend reading to your children at a young age, but what can parents do beyond those early years of bedtime stories?
Consider trying these ideas that promote a love for literacy in the home:
- Like other behaviors, model the behavior you’d like to see in your child. Reading the newspaper, a book, or anything for that matter, demonstrates that you value reading. Kids often mimic their parents (the good and the bad).
- Create a “book basket” in your home. Many teachers have a special table or space in their classrooms in which they rotate “special” books. These books change with the season, holiday or a thematic unit of interest. Visit your library to get your collection. There’s something exciting when a fresh batch of books is displayed. Bonus: when it comes time to return the books to the library, they will be in a designated basket and there will be no need to search the house for that one missing book.
- For chapter book readers, try checking out two copies of the same exact book. For example, if your child wants to read The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Warner, check out two copies: one for you (the parent/guardian) and one for your child. When you both have a copy, it is easy to take turns reading, read aloud simultaneously or simply read aloud to your child so they can follow along. All of which are extremely beneficial.
- Talk about books in a meaningful way. Kids are eager to connect to the text. Ask questions like what did you like about the book? How was the main character different than you? How was she the same? Ask higher-level questions that will encourage your child to use critical thinking skills.
- What are your child’s genuine interests? Search for books that align with those interests.
- Find an audio version that accompanies the print book. This is okay! And yes, doing this will still refine/strengthen reading skills.
- Seek out favorite authors. Check their social media accounts for upcoming title releases, websites or information on school visits. Many authors are tech-savvy and some are even willing to Skype classrooms or book clubs. Sometimes reluctant readers find a new author that completely turns them on to reading and most authors have multiple titles.
Attitude is everything. A child’s attitude toward reading often mirrors the parents’. Finding and nurturing a love for reading will pay a lifetime of dividends (for both parent and child!).
Julie Dill-Burnett is the mother of two teen daughters. She teaches fourth grade in Moore Public Schools and holds a National Board Certification. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at Rose State College. She is the author of "Bluff," a young adult novel.