Fostering a love, even just interest, of reading in a child who doesn’t want to read can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Each child comes into this world with a unique personality and interests. Let’s face it, some kids just don’t like to read and the more they are pushed or encouraged to read, the more they dislike reading and fight against it. Some children haven’t gained a love of reading because of a lack of skill and understanding of how letters make words and words form sentences. Other children haven’t found books or series of books that are more interesting or fun than physical activities or computers and gaming devices. It is up to parents to encourage and ensure children spend time each day reading.
Ways to encourage reading:
- Set a specific reading time on a daily basis. This can range from 15 minutes to an hour or more depending on the child. The time of day is essential as well. Observe your child to see when books may be of most interest. For non-school age children it could be nap time, bed time, or a morning snuggle? For school aged children it could be right after school as a pleasant break or right at the end of the day before lights go out.
- Provide a variety of books that are readily accessible to children. One option is to rotate books on the shelf. Designate a specific shelf for children’s books. Fill the shelf with a variety of books and have a box filled with books in another location. Every so often rotate the books. This method works wonderfully for children who lose interest in the books after having read them so many times. It will be like getting new books every 6 months or however often you choose to rotate. Children will also rediscover a favorite book that they hadn’t seen or read in a while. This system will also keep the shelf more organized and visually appealing, thus not scaring children away from the shelf because it is crammed full of books, potentially pulling several books off instead of just one.
- For young children who have a higher level of energy and find sitting for a story difficult, try engaging them in the story by allowing them to act out the story while you read it to them. Maybe an older child who can read independently would find it entertaining if they read you the story and you did the acting.
- For children who feel overwhelmed having to read a book by themselves, try sharing the task of reading by taking turns reading a word, a sentence, a page, and rotating back and forth until the story ends.
- One way to make reading a story more pleasurable is to include fun voices. Have the child read the story to you using a really low voice, or a really high voice, maybe even try a silly accent. The more children read and become familiar with even a particular book, they learn where to add emphasis and inflection to enhance the story even more, thus making reading more pleasurable.
- Written words are everywhere: billboards, bumper stickers, store advertisements, food packaging (such as cereal boxes), DVD and CD cases (especially if song lyrics are available), and much more. The extent to things that children can read is endless. Playing games in the car reading billboards and signs is just one of many ideas.
- Borrow audio books or buy them and listen to the narrator as well as follow along. This is a great activity for independent children. Allow them to listen and follow along at bedtime, in the car, or any time. For the not so independent child this is a perfect opportunity for a snuggle. The child can hold the book and turn the pages while parent relaxes.
This list is not inclusive, but hopefully has triggered some ideas of your own. Remember to keep reading relaxed and pleasant. Pressure and tension will only exacerbate any present issues with reading and prolong the development of an interest in reading. Create an atmosphere conducive to a love of reading. Anything from a special pillow and blanket to a reading nook; make it inviting and your child will be sure to gain an appreciation for a good book!
Written by: Suzanna Tolman