Friday, October 2, 2009

Tips to Help Your Child Learn to LOVE to Read

Some kids devour printed words in every way possible. They read the backs of shampoo bottles and cereal boxes when they don't have a book handy.

But these children are usually the exception that proves the rule. Lots of kids are less than thrilled with reading, and some would rather be stabbed with sharp number 2 pencils than pick up any kind of reading material. For them, reading is more work than fun - a painful chore. They continually count the pages to see how many more they have to get through before they can run around outside or play computer games.

Try these tips to help your child learn to LOVE to read!
Find out what kinds of things spark your youngster's interest.
Check out preferred themes for video games, favorite movies, sports, music, etc.

Take a trip to the library to find books that touch on something included in the above list. For example, kids into sports often enjoy sports journalist, Mike Lupica's, novels where the main character usually has problems in life that he has to solve, but has a passion for a particular sport. If your child likes to pretend, check out books in the fantasy genre. For the younger set that likes to figure things out, loads of authors write mysteries.

Start reading the book together. Take turns reading pages or paragraphs, depending on your child's reading level. The togetherness and shared enthusiasm for a story sometimes can make all the difference in a reading experience.

IF YOUR CHILD HATES A BOOK, EVEN IF YOU ARE HALF WAY THROUGH, AND YOU'VE PUT A LOT OF TIME INTO IT, GET RID OF IT! The best way to take all the fun out of reading is to force your child to finish a library book that is less than fascinating. Your child should be dying to find out what happens to the characters. If getting your child to read with you is like pulling teeth, forget it and move on to the next one. You will save lots of time and energy in the future and gain trust if you allow your child to put down a book that becomes boring.

Check out novels that are part of a series that may grab your child's curiosity. Finding an author that your child enjoys is a gold mine for setting up a healthy, life-long reading habit. For instance, kids who love to solve mysteries often get a kick out of reading Encyclopedia Brown novels by Donald J. Sobol. For kids that like the icky side of things, R. L. Stein’s Goosebumps come to mind. Children who like the idea of time travel and history love Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House books.

Let your child choose an easier book to read silently and a more difficult book for the two of you to read aloud together. If your child is old enough to read independently, but still wants to read with you, reading two books requiring different skill levels often makes everyone happy. Besides, reading with older children enhances their ability to analyze plots and characters which, in turn, helps them become better out-of-the-box thinkers and problem solvers.
Be ready for some trial and error before you and your child manage to find an author, genre or series that sparks your child’s interest and holds onto it for a while.

Set up a family reading time. Turn off the T.V., computer, radio, or other distractions and set a half-hour aside for family reading every day. Read in the same room, but separately, if your child is ready for independent reading. Use the POWER of your example to your advantage. A little relaxing reading time may be just what the doctor ordered to help you wind down from the day, too. Everybody wins!

Scholastic Parent puts out an excellent list of favorites for young readers. Click on (K-2) and (Independent Reader) for some great author suggestions.
Note: I noticed some of the books mentioned in the K-2 link would be fine material for independent readers. Get used to blurry lines when it comes to classifying book levels. Try not to get hung up on which list the books your child is interested in appear on, K-2 or Independent Reader. Meeting your child where initial interests and abilities lie is far more important than worrying about the reading level where the publisher claims the book belongs. Once your child reads proficiently, you can pay more attention to that stuff.