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Encouraging the Reluctant Reader
Encouraging The Reluctant Reader
By Tiffany Regan, M.Ed.
As parents we know that our children should read often and dig into those assigned chapter books with delight. If you have a flashlight-under-the-covers-reader then you probably don’t have to worry. However, some students are reluctant readers and it is a constant struggle to get them to read for pleasure or to read assigned books.
Provide a time and space for reading. It can be very difficult to concentrate on reading with distractions such as music, a television program or a sibling playing Xbox. A quiet and distraction free space is important to enable a reluctant reader the chance to concentrate on a book. Limiting electronics and television to weekends only, or as a condition of finishing school work and chores is an option worth considering. The latter has a dual benefit of improving the time on task for reading and teaching a life lesson that will serve them well in years to come. Learning this lesson at home is cheap. Learning this lesson while you are paying $50,000 a year in college tuition is not.
Another alternative is a thirty-minute quiet time each day. Unplug. This is a time for homework, reading and other pursuits that don’t involve words like digital, video, or play list. You may find more family conversations occurring which will help you plug into the details of your child’s day.
Getting started on a required reading assignment can often be intimidating.
· Offer to read the first few pages of the book aloud to help peak interest in the story.
· Provide your child with some background information about the topic. Give your child a few facts about the setting (location and time period).
· Keep a copy of the book around for down time. Let them read a few pages while waiting in the doctor’s office or sitting at a sibling’s gymnastics lesson.
· Books on tape from the local library can be an option. Allow your child to trade off listening to one chapter and reading one chapter. If this is the only way that your child will get through the book and be exposed to great literature then it is a reasonable compromise.
Discuss the book with your child. Let them tell you about the story and talk about any confusing or interesting parts. Ask them if the story reminds them of anything (another book, an event, a personal experience, etc.). This will help your child make connections to the story they are reading. Discussing the book together will also help you to determine your child’s level of comprehension. If you have not read the book then a quick visit to SparkNotes.com will catch you up on the important details of the story.
Reading for pleasure has some important benefits. Students who read more tend to have a larger vocabulary and more background knowledge. Also, reading gives your child more practice at reading. As with any skill, practice improves performance.
Take advantage of your child’s passions and interests. Providing material that is interesting can encourage your child to read. Most boys love nonfiction yet classroom libraries tend to be about 90% narrative.
- Stock the family room with a few books on topics that interest your child: extreme sports, insects, space or animals are popular topics among children.
- Buy a subscription to magazines. Ranger Rick, Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic Kids, Nintendo Power, Game Informer, Cricket or American Girl are just a few popular subscriptions.
- Is your child begging for a pet? Turn this into a reading and research opportunity. A visit to the library or quick internet search can provide your child with reading material about what is required to care for this pet.
- Comic books may not look like real books but they provide real reading opportunities with text and a storyline to follow. Comic books can be an enticing option for some children.
Your child will likely encounter many required reading assignments throughout their education, but it doesn’t need to be a painful struggle. Use these tips to help your child tackle those assignments and possibly discover material that is enjoyable to read.