Motivating Kids to Read
When parents find out I’m a language arts teacher, their first question is often, “How do I get my kid to read?” And they are right to ask, since reading has been proven to improve brain function and connectivity, enhance social skills, and advance verbal development. Alas, I have no magic potion or script to follow to convert your child to a bibliophilic (lover of books), but I do have a few key tips that I’ve learned from my experience and research. Warning: some of these tips require YOU to do a little work yourself!
1. Provide time for reading
In my first year of teaching, when deciding what to schedule in those precious few minutes of the day left over after academic subjects, I chose DIRT (Daily Independent Reading Time). The name alone gets kids interested! Just having that time be a priority, not to mention a relaxing “me” time, motivates them to read.
2. Model reading
You can’t tell your kids they need to read and expect them to listen if you don’t do it yourself. Talk to them about what you’re reading, not in a prescribed way, but in a natural way that shows them you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy reading, then at least you can relate to your kid! 😉 Follow steps #3-5 for ideas about how to motivate yourself to read, and then work at it together.
3. Let them choose
Choice is a huge motivator. Your child needs to know they don’t just have to read the “hard” books or the books with no pictures, but they can read ANYTHING! Take them to the library and let them be dazzled by the assortment of books on every topic they can imagine, then check out ALL the books they want.
4. Help them find books related to their interests
Scholastic Book Wizard is an awesome tool that will help you find books related to your child’s interest, grade level, or reading level. I encourage you to search for similar books according to a book your child enjoys. If your child is reluctant reader, don’t choose a book WAY outside of their reading level because you don’t want to discourage them from reading. However, if you find the perfect book that is too far above their level, see #5 for what to do!
5. Read to them (or listen to audiobooks together)
Listening to a fluent reader is a proven way to improve oral reading fluency and increase interest in reading. Plus reading to your child gives you a way to connect with them in a mutually enjoyable activity and establishes reading as a priority in your home. If you prefer, listen to audiobooks together in the car or at home. These are really fun and often narrated by talented actors who make the book come alive.
Happy reading! 🙂