My two daughters could not be more different when it comes to reading. My eldest cannot get enough of books. She makes frequent excursions to the library and is rarely seen without at least one book in her hand. I always assumed that once my younger daughter got a taste for reading, she would follow along the same path. But you know what they say about assumptions ...
As hard as it is for this bookworm to understand, I have recently had to admit that my youngest daughter is a reluctant reader. She's a good reader, but most of the time, she just doesn't want to do it. And it's not a screen or technology thing. She spends good portions of her day knitting, drawing, running or pretty much doing anything other than reading. But when I ask her to pick up a book, I'm answered with a groan.
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So how can I encourage my reluctant reader? I've scoured the Internet for tips, and here's what I've came up with:
Start with the obvious. Does your child need reading glasses? Or is he having trouble with dyslexia or a similar learning disorder? If you're not sure, have your child tested to rule out any issues that may influence his ability to read easily.
Let them read what they love. And it follows that they will soon love what they read. Don't force your favorite classics or the latest YA book on your kids. When you go to the bookstore, let them lead the way and browse through the books that pique their interest, even if it's not something you would have chosen.
Remember that reading is not a race. Just because your child can read a chapter book doesn't mean that you should force her to read only chapter books. This is not a race. Your child will not be better prepared for life just because she read "Harry Potter" at age 5. Kids who are pushed into more complex books may learn to see reading as a chore rather than a pleasurable pursuit.
Read together. Just because your kids are older, doesn't mean you have to stop reading to them. Let them pick out a chapter book that you can read together — under the covers at night or on the sofa after school. Read it together and enjoy every moment.
Read. And let them see you read. I love to read, but I often don't get a chance to do it until after everyone is in bed and I'm snuggled up under my covers for the night. But the problem is that my girls rarely see me turning the pages. They hear me talk about reading, but they never see me reading. A better strategy is to make time every day to read when the kids can see me do it. And while I may not want to delve into the plot twists of my favorite novel with my 9-year-old, I can share my thoughts about how good my book is and how hard it is to put down.
The bottom line is that it's best not to push books on kids. It's important for them to read, but let them choose what and when and even how.
As for my daughter, I will just make sure she has plenty of access to books and lots of time to read — if and when she chooses to do it.