How to Encourage Children to Read (Just some thoughts & practical ideas to play with ….)

How to Encourage Your Child to Read: Creating Happy Readers & a Lifelong Habit

Okay … so if you’re reading this post there are two things of which you are certain:

1) You know your child: You have a great kid, she just doesn’t happen to enjoy reading (& that’s no crime … just a shame ….).
2) You have already decided that “raising a reader” is important. …. Why? Why is reading important?

Well, according to Susan Hughes, in her article written for Canadian Living,
“Reading takes our children into places where their imaginations can soar, where they can problem-solve, empathize and gain insight into other times, places and cultures. As Barb Kissick, children’s librarian Confederation Centre Public Library in Charlottetown, states, “A child who reads taps into the collective knowledge of a culture.” Children can enter into the minds of different characters and experience their points of view and motives, and the consequences that might result from their actions.” (http://www.canadianliving.com/family/kids/why_reading_is_important_for_kids_of_all_ages.php)

So, right now you feel that encouraging your child to read is going to be a priority … From here, your actions/approach might well be twofold:
I: Ask yourself, “Why doesn’t my child like reading?”, & look for answers.
II:”I want my child to love books. How can I encourage my child to read, to enjoy books?”

(I) Do a little detective work: Find out why your child doesn’t enjoy reading:
Determine the reason(s) behind his lack of interest in books.
The possible reasons are seemingly endless, but here are just a few to get you started:

1. Is your child is intimidated by books? Is she afraid to read because she thinks that it’s going to be “really hard mum!”?
2. Perhaps he just hasn’t found the right reading materials/book(s) to get him interested yet.
3. Are you modeling reading? I mean let’s face it, your child loves you, your child looks up to you, wants to please you, wants to do what you do! Even if you don’t like reading (and not everyone does)
fake it!
4. Maybe your child is having difficulty learning read. Perhaps she is an “at risk reader”.
If so, this is what you ought to know:
According to Crystal Kelly, MA.Ed. and Linda Campbell, Ph.D. in their article, “Why Do Some Students Struggle with Reading? …  (T)here are several causes of underachievement in reading. The four most common ones we found include 1) reading role models and life experiences, 2) the acquisition of reading skills, specifically phonics and comprehension, 3) visual processing, and 4) learning disabilities. ” (http://www.newhorizons.org/spneeds/inclusion/teaching/kelly.htm)
Watch both her effort and achievement. Talk to her teacher. Talk to her!

(II) Now that you’ve done you due diligence (e.g. explored/identified the reasons why …) it’s time to take action!
Her are some things that you can do to get your kid hooked on books!

1. Find the “right books” for your child.
a) Know what your child is interested in. I mean no kid (or adult for that matter) would ever choose read something that doesn’t appeal to him from the outset!
b) Find out which books are hot, hot, hot! What’s popular? What’s all the rage?
c) Ask around town. Ask for suggestions: Ask friends, other parents, teachers, librarians, the staff in bookstores, look on line, etc. Here are three sites to get you started:
* “(A) list of one hundred books selected by the National Education Association”:  http://www.teachersfirst.com/100books.cfm
* Bestsellers in Children’s Books  (update hourly!): http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/4
* Great advice: http://www.best-childrens-books.com/best-childrens-books.html

2. Choosing great books that are “high interest/low vocabulary” might just be your best bet:
If your child seems to be struggling, or feeling intimidated by books try reading some high interest/low vocabulary books.
High Interest/Low Vocabulary Book Sites:
* Great source for book titles (divided into grade levels) http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/hi_lo_books.htm
* Other sources: http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/gi/qt/hiloreaders.htm;

3. Graphic Novels are a great way to encourage reluctant readers.

Graphic novels are a great way to encourage children to explore books! In fact, they are the latest & greatest addition to my classroom library! My reluctant readers gravitate toward them naturally, enthusiastically.
Graphic Novel Sites:
* http://informationgoddess.ca/Comics&GraphicNovels/faq.htm
* A wonderful resource for graphic novels: http://childrensbooks.about.com/sitesearch.htm?terms=graphic%20novels&SUName=childrensbooks&TopNode=99
* http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:SA75sbBEiKwJ:www.scholastic.ca/bookfairs/printables/pdfs/Scholastic_BoneDiscussion.pdf+graphic+novels&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca&client=firefox-a
* http://www.teachingdegree.org/2009/07/05/comics-in-the-classroom-100-tips-tools-and-resources-for-teachers/

4. Take a non-fiction “approach”:
Maybe your child just isn’t interested in stories/works of fiction. Why not try non-fiction?!
What is their passion? Expose them to books about: animals, science, biographies, sports, magic, art …. books about people, events  and places … about “real” things. Find books about skateboarding, hockey, riddles, jokes, horses, sports heroes, movie stars, music, history (e.g. ancient Egyptian mummies), the Guinness Book of World Records, etc. (FYI: In 16 years of teaching I haven’t had a class yet that hasn’t obsessed with a Guinness Book of World Records at some point in the school year!)
Children’s Books: Nonfiction Sites:
* http://community.indigo.ca/toptens/Favourite-Childrens-Nonfiction-Books-Jill-Bryant/258170.html
* http://childrens-non-fiction.suite101.com/

5. Read Newspapers:
Newspapers offer high interest, bite sized articles, on several subject areas (e.g. world news, local news, sports, travel, entertainment, comics, horoscopes, etc.)
Children’s Newspaper Sites:
* http://www.dmoz.org/Kids_and_Teens/News/Newspapers/
* http://www.kidbibs.com/learningtips/lt40.htm (“Newspaper Activities Support Children’s Learning In Many Ways”)

6. Read Magazines:
Magazines also offer high interest, bite sized pieces, on several subject areas, both non-fiction & fiction (e.g. short stories, puzzles, world news, sports, travel, entertainment, comics, horoscopes, etc.). It’s also great fun to get things in the mail! Once you have found a magazine that your c child loves, why not try ordering a subscription? What a treat that would be!
Children’s Magazine Sites:
* http://childparenting.about.com/od/kidsmagazines/Kids_Magazines.htm
* http://www.allyoucanread.com/top-10-kids-magazines/
* http://familyinternet.about.com/od/websitesforkids/tp/magazinesites.htm
* http://www.world-newspapers.com/children.html

7. Read Comics:
Comics are a great way to get kids hooked on reading! There are a ton of comic books out there that are great/appropriate for kids …. just have a look:
Children’s Comic Book Sites:
* Top children’s comics: http://comicbooks.about.com/od/buyingcomics/tp/toptenkids.htm
* “The latest news, links, and events related to kid-friendly comics!” http://www.kidslovecomics.com/
* Comics in the Classroom: http://comicsintheclassroom.ca/elemlist.htm

8. Model Reading; Make reading a habit:
Read together …. Read aloud to your child.
Talk about books. Discuss, question, show interest, laugh, cry … have fun with books! Share! Explore!
Additional articles worth checking out:
* http://www.littleonesreadingresource.com/childrens-stories.html
*http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/friends_and_family/encourage_a_love_of_reading.php
*http://www.canadianliving.com/family/parenting/top_10_child_literacy_spoilers.php
* http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/friends_and_family/get_your_kids_reading.php
* http://www.child-central.com/Develop-Reading-Habits.html
* http://for-your-child.blogspot.com/2009/11/developing-reading-habit.html
* http://www.medindia.net/news/Inculcating-Reading-Habits-Improve-Kids-Academic-Performance-36265-1.htm

Lastly, leave little (love) notes for your child everywhere … e.g. under his pillow, in her lunchbox, in a special place! She will love getting little notes from you (& reading them too)!

Ok, so the above is simply some food for thought. I do hope that you have found this post helpful.
Reading is such a gift.

Cheers,
Ally

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6 responses to “How to Encourage Children to Read (Just some thoughts & practical ideas to play with ….)

  1. >Excellent tips for kids who haven't found that love (yet). My biggest piece of advice: parental modeling through reading themselves and through reading aloud to children.

  2. >What a great list of resources!As an author, I love hearing from reluctant readers that my books (which are graphic novel/middge grade hybrids) turned them on to reading and writing.Art literacy studies show that the act of creating art makes students better writers. I suspect studies will eventually show that viewing art (book illustrations) helps in retention of words.

  3. >Thank you both for you thoughtful comments!RC, I agree being read to is an incredibly strong predictor for success in reading!& Ruth thank you for your response! I love your books. Love the connection between "art" & "reading"!I will def. bring both into the classroom.Wonderful!

  4. >It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers." 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 Butler Adventure Series – is coming out in June.Keep up your good work. Max Elliot Anderson

  5. >Max,Thank you so much for taking the time to create such a thoughtful post.I have taken a peek at your Blog and will have a good look later today.I hope that you will continue to follow me here and to share your ideas and insights. (I am certainly going to follow u!)For the third year in a row I have an all boys class at a co-ed private school. They are such a great group (again!) and anything that I can do to enrich their learning experiences I will do … including learning from you!Thanks again,Ally

  6. >I love graphic novels and use them often … esp to encourage my reluctant readers …. I recently came across this wonderful post from "Kevin’s Meandering Mind" :"James Bucky Carver’s blog — En/Sane World — is always full of interesting pieces about the use of comics and graphic novels in education. I keep meaning to get his book — Building Literacy Connections with Graphic Novels Page by Page, Panel by Panel — and now, he posted this wonderful video that goes into the elements of the book. It’s worth a look, for sure." http://dogtrax.edublogs.org/2010/02/27/literacy-and-graphic-novels/

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