What can you do to encourage your child to read more? One important tip is to remember that your child is watching. What are you reading? Children are likely to follow your example if you are enthusiastic about reading. Whether you read information online together, follow a recipe in a magazine, or read a favorite book at bedtime, encourage your child to read with you.
Keep in mind that “reading” doesn’t just happen in books. Words are all around us, so the opportunities to practice reading are endless. Motivate a child who loves electronic devices by encouraging them to read stories on an eBook reader or a free online website. One way to find free online stories is to type “online reading for children” into your search engine. You will find a number of websites for interactive reading activities. Many of these websites are used in classrooms. You can also ask your child’s teacher to recommended favorite websites for reading fun.
Many reluctant readers enjoy magazines for children because of the interesting photographs and topics. Public libraries often subscribe to magazines for children. Visit your library and find a magazine that features a topic your child is passionate about.
Mix it up. You can have a profound effect on your child’s reading habits by encouraging different daily activities:
- Listen to a book-on-tape in the car
- Write an email to relatives and read it before pushing the send button
- Check out books at the library to learn more about topics that interest your family
- Build things or follow recipes that require reading directions
- Read signs and street names
Look for new opportunities for your child to read each day. Some children find reading difficult, while others can read well but just don’t see any value or purpose to reading. Point out how important reading is when you do things like play a new game and read the directions, look up a favorite recipe, or read directions to a friend’s house. Help your child see that reading is a vital part of their life.
Reading out loud together is probably the most enjoyable way to help a reluctant reader become an enthusiastic reader. Sometimes children just haven't found a book or series they like, and reading out loud can introduce them to a new author or genre. Try these tips if your child needs help reading out loud:
- If your child is stuck on a word: (1) ask them what word would make sense in the sentence (2) suggest they look at the picture and see if that helps (3) tell them to keep going and read to the end of the sentence and see if the sentence provides a clue (4) cover up all but the first letter of a word, then move your finger to the right as your child reads each sound of the word.
- Ask your child’s teacher for strategies that work in the classroom to reinforce at home.
- Children who sound robotic when they read can practice sounding more natural. One way to do this is for you to read a sentence from a story with expression, then, have your child mimic you.
- Too many reading errors may mean that the reading level is too hard. Choose an easier story and see if that makes a difference.
- Writing helps children read and reading helps children write. Encourage your child to write by giving them new pens and writing paper.
- Read to your child and just let them listen – even an older child.
Every child is unique. Be creative and keep searching for reading opportunities that interest your child. Don’t give up! Every child can become a lifelong reader.