As a librarian, mother of 4, and avid reader, I am often asked, “How do I get my child to want to read a book?” Most educators will give you flash cards, fancy websites with flashy pictures, tutoring programs that cost money, or a ton of reading worksheets/study booklets. And to be honest, those things do work.
Flash cards are a tried and true method to aid in memorization. They are actually useful when it comes to a child learning sight words. I have used flashcards that were sent home by the teacher for my kids. But let’s be honest! Have you ever tried to practice sight words with your child? Especially a kindergartener or a first grader. It’s brutal. I promise you that half of the time mine weren’t even trying. They were just saying random words. Plus, I can’t possibly do flashcards, laundry, dinner, and listen intensively to them all at the same time. Furthermore, the cards slowly start to disappear. One by one…..slowly….until there are no more flashcards to be found. So…yeah…that’s a no.
Kids reading….sortaAnd yes, websites are really good. Sometimes. My kids did ABC Mouse through their preschool and it was great. Well, it would have been great if my kids knew how to utilize the program. They didn’t know what to click on or when to click to answer questions. But they loved the coloring pages and puzzles. I would have to sit down with them 20-45 mins at a time to walk them though the program in order for it to be effective. Keep in mind I have 4 little ones, so that’s a minimum of 1 hour and 20 minutes working on an online, educational website. I tried it once. I almost died from 70% Frustration and 30% I wasn’t made to do this. So…yeah….that’s also a no.
We personally have never tried tutoring programs. That’s just more money that we don’t have. And with my kids minimal attention span, I wouldn’t be sure that we would get our money’s worth. But seriously, as an adult I don’t want to leave work to go to another form of work that is “advertised” as fun. What kids wants to leave school just to go to school again in the same day?
Oh and don’t get me started on study booklets. I still have some sitting on my shelf. They are now used as fun doodling and coloring pages.
So how did I get my 4 kids to enjoy reading? Closed Captions, Building, and Comics:
Closed Captions: Sometimes when my kids watch tv, I put on the Closed Captions and turn the volume down. At first, my kids would get so angry. Honestly, to say they were angry is the Rated-G version, but you get the gist. They were not happy. “I can’t hear the TV!!!” “The words are moving too fast!!!!” “Geezz Mom, are you SERIOUS?” Trust me, I’ve heard all of the complaints. But it got to a point, and quite quickly, that they were reading fluently. They were reading the caption and comprehended the show with ease. Their favorite TV shows turned into interactive books that are now being read to them when the volume is on. Now they have decided to watch their favorite Netflix shows in French with English Closed Captions to help them learn French better. (Proud Mommy Moment!)
Building: Another way to get your child to read to is allow him/her to build things. Seriously, buy them a shelf, Lego sets, or anything that requires construction with instructions (so nothing from Ikea). Your child will have to read and comprehend a complex informational text in order to create a viable product. When a child reads and creates something tangible, because they comprehended what they read, it brings about a sense of pride.
Comics: Lastly, the good ol’ comics, or graphic novels, as they are now called. I would get the Sunday paper for the coupons and pass the comics to the kids after I finished reading them. Comics and graphic novels are a great way to get reluctant readers to read, without the hassle. They’re colorful, creative, and funny. Now there are graphic novels for all lexile levels. Whether you have an 11th grader or a 2nd grader, there are graphic novels out there for them to enjoy.
Most important, allow your child to read whatever they want to read. Whether it’s movie or game reviews, secrets to being Jojo, building something new, or even the back of a cereal box, allow your child to enjoy what they read, and they will enjoy reading.