When I was growing up I hated reading books. Why would I want to read if I could be outside playing neighborhood football or watching TV. My struggle with reading stemmed from it not being easy for me. In essence reading felt like a chore rather then something that I enjoyed. Now that I am a parent I realize now how important it is for children to love to read books. I have an 18 month old son and I want him to love reading.
Fortunately, my 18 month old seems to have inherited my wife’s love of books. My wife started reading to him when he was only a couple weeks old. At first I thought it was odd that she was reading to him at such young age. I wondered if he was understanding anything my wife was saying as she read. As he got older he would sit with me or my wife for 3o to 45 minutes straight as we read to him. He just loved to look at the pictures and hear our voices.
So, what causes some children (like me) to dislike reading, but others (like my wife and 18 month old son) to like reading? My son is still young and obviously is not reading on his own. But his love of being read to probably has something to do with my wife’s efforts to read to him at an early age. Perhaps the main reason why I disliked was because I felt like I wasn’t good it. Feeling this way then lead to fearing that I would have to read out loud in school. It also became obvious to me that my peers read faster than I did. Having this state of mind lead me to falsely believe that I couldn’t catch up to the reading skill levels of my peers – so why try to improve my reading skills.
So often this is the case with many children. They don’t like reading because they don’t feel like they’re good at it. Here are some tips to encourage children to read.
Find Books That Interest Your Child
I remember being encouraged as a 5th and 6th grader to read the sports section of the news paper because I loved baseball. At the time, I was living in New York and my favorite team was the New York Yankees. I really enjoyed reading about the players on the Yankees and how they performed in games.
Like I was encouraged, children should be encouraged to read books, magazines, and newspapers about their interests. But don’t over do it. Just because a child has an interest in something, it doesn’t mean he should be encouraged to read everything ever published on the topic. If a child has an interest in baseball (like I did), then take him to a baseball game. After the game talk with him about it and together look at the box scores in the newspaper or on Internet. After doing this then you can encourage him to read some books on the topic of baseball. Also, you may want to find movies about baseball that your child could watch. The idea here is to immerse your child in his interest not just with books, but using all the resources to peak his curiosity. Then hopefully he’ll naturally want to read about his interests.
Shared reading is taking turns reading sections of a chapter in a book out loud together. The key to having success with this is to ensure that your child feels safe and comfortable reading out loud. This is especially important for reluctant readers who are more likely to also be struggling readers. To make your child feel safe and comfortable ensure that those who are participating are on the same reading level with your child. This will help your child to feel less insecure. A parent and child reading out loud has the added benefit of being able to discuss the topic of what is being read. Many parents believe that shared reading is something only for younger children (younger than 8). But shared reading can be very beneficial for older children (8-12 years of age).