Friday, March 9, 2012

Help Your Kids Love to Read

This week we have World Read Aloud Day - a perfect time to celebrate the love of reading! Most of us know it's important for kids to read. But how can we ensure they WANT to read, and learn to love reading? Here are some tips that might help.

*Read aloud to your children every day. Repeat. Do it from birth so that reading for pleasure becomes a daily habit.

*When you read aloud, bring the book alive with all your theatrical skills. I have some Read Aloud Hints at my website.

*Let your children see you reading, and enjoying it. Share occasions that concern reading with your kids as often as you can. "Oh, let's see what recipe we can cook for dinner tomorrow." "How many little pigs were there in the story? Three you say? Let's see where it says that.""I wonder what time Shaun the Sheep is on TV.""Listen to this funny bit in my book."

*Many kids prefer to read in a subject area that interests them. Children who don’t enjoy fiction will spend hours poring over a non-fiction book on a fascinating topic like Dinosaurs or Creating Craft from Junk. Motivation is an amazing thing! If they shy away from actual books, try them on magazines about their favourite hobbies or sports.

*Reading doesn’t always mean print books. Would your son be interested in reading what his friends have written on a social network site? Is there something your daughter really wants to do that you could help her find a website tutorial on? Don't forget audio books and e-books can contribute to a love of reading too.

*Let kids choose their own reading material. Of course we want them to love the same books we love. But giving them ownership over what they read is another key to helping them love reading. Reading excerpts from your own loved books occasionally is one way to "sell" without being dictatorial.

*A sure-fire way to kill a love of reading is to make reading a punishment. Remember, the key is that we want kids to love reading. Saying they must read two more pages because they've been naughty definitely doesn't send a message that reading is for pleasure.

*Don’t give up on reading aloud to your kids, just because they're some arbitrary age. If your child struggles with making sense from print, it may be more fun for him to listen to you read the story. Or try reading it aloud together, making sure he can see the text clearly. Taking pressure off his reading that way might be just the thing to help him enjoy it again. Make a read-aloud time a regular family event for everyone. I wrote an article about read o'clock you might like to read, and here are Ten Ways to Involve the Whole Family in Reading Aloud.

*When you're watching TV or movies, turn subtitles on if they're available. This is a great way for kids to SEE words as they're being said, and reinforces both reading and spelling.

Let's face it. Despite all our efforts, some kids don't love reading. Yet we know how important reading is for their life at school and beyond. Don't despair if your kids just aren't into reading yet. Keep reading to them, every day. Try them on non-fiction books in subject areas that tie into their hobbies, sports and obsessions. And look around for magazines, e-books or graphic novels that might pique their interest.

Remember the words from one of my favourite movies: Never give up. Never surrender. (Galaxy Quest) The end result, a child who enjoys reading, is totally worth it.

Do your kids/students love to read? What things do you believe you've done to support that?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


  1. Brilliant ideas, Book Chook - I particularly love the one about letting kids choose their own material. Golly, I spent years reading nothing but Archie comics as a teen and I remember my mother being horrified. As I weave my way through a bricklike tome on Julius Caesar right now, I think she need not have worried!

  2. @Tania McCartney Have to admit, I am more likely to reach for Archie than any tome whatsoever. Picture books like Australian Story are much more my cuppa T!

  3. I love this piece of yours. My entire home is filled with mountains of books, and I've read to my ten year old daughter ever since she was in my tummy. It came as no surprise that her passion for reading seemed like a matter of course. I understand though that for others it seems more like a chore, a required activity, a school-type obligation rather than an avenue to explore multidimensional worlds. These are helpful strategies for those who are struggling to understand the place that reading could take in their lives.

  4. @Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks I'm so pleased you think so, Myra. Thanks for commenting, and how lucky your daughter is!


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