Summer reading! As a parent you either love it or hate it. If your child loves it, so do you. But if you have a child who hates to read, you probably hate to think about it. You dread the eye rolling, sighs, complaining and all the things our kids do when they don’t like to do something. But, you are the parent and kids need to read, they really do. And for that matter, adults need to read too.
I recently came across this article that expresses concern about the reading skills of American school children:
As a reading specialist, this concerns me. It talks about the fact that kids aren’t reading for pleasure. During the school year, schedules are tight and reading outside of school assignments does not always happen. However, summer is the perfect time to read for pleasure.
You may be thinking that my child hates to read and that it is a chore to make them read, especially during the summer. Well, don’t make them. Take them to the library and let them choose anything they want (provided that the reading material matches the values you are trying to instill in your family, of course). Or take them to a bookstore and let them choose something cool that is their own. Don’t worry if it’s not well written. The goal is to encourage your child to read. They may choose to read books from a series, books about motorcycles, joke books, cartoons, arts and crafts books or even magazines. The goal is to get them to read.
Some things to remember as a parent who wants to get reluctant readers to read:
1. One reason a child may not like to read is that the reading material is too hard. Let them chose something that is not particularly challenging. This is summer reading time. Your kids are tired of school and you goal is to get them to read. If you have an avid reader, encourage them to read something a little challenging. Just remember that when you are looking for a fun, beach read, do you choose Charles Dickens or Karen Kingsbury.
2. If your child had a hard time learning to read, he may feel defeated and discouraged. Who wants to do something hard, especially in the summer. If that is the case, your goal is to get him to feel good about himself. He needs to become a confident reader or he will continue to hate reading. Don’t force reading on him, let him ease into it.
3. Another reason your child may not want to read is that the material they have been read is boring. As a general rule, girls who are into frills tend to like romance whereas boys who are into mechanical things tend to enjoy reading sci-fi. Your child may not like historical fiction but may like mysteries.
4. The reading material is too long. They see a thick book and it overwhelms them. Let them read something short, maybe a book of short stories or a novella. An ADHD child has a difficult time sitting down to read for long periods of time. Work with your child and the way God made them.
5. You set the tone and are the example. Let your kids see you read, even if it’s a magazine. And kids need to see their dads read too.
6. Not everyone likes to read and not everyone is a voracious reader. If you have a child who loves to read, count your blessings. I have one child who loves to read and reads classic literature for fun. My other child did not like to read growing up, but reads now. He doesn’t read as much as he’d like because he’s busy and does not have the time to. Remember that’s the way God made them and He did not make a mistake.
7. Consider investing in a kindle or other tablet. Tech savvy kids may enjoy using an electronic device.
8. Do read alouds with your kids and with your teens too (maybe not your 18 year olds), but a 12 or 13 year old will enjoy hearing you read. Just don’t let their friends know! LOL! Find a good book, maybe a mystery and read the first chapter or maybe the first couple of chapters aloud. Then tell them that they have to read the book to know the outcome. That may peek their interest.
9. Sometimes your kids want to read the same thing over and over and that’s ok. Kids love repetition.The goal is to get them to read.
10. Set up some type of reward system for reading. It could be that they get ice cream or a special movie night if they read a certain number of books or a certain number of minutes. If all else fails, don’t feel bad if you need to pay them. Just remember that you are setting a precedent that may come back to haunt you in the future. Bargain Shopper Mom has a link to programs that offer reading incentives:
When my children were growing up, we did not go outside during the heat of the day (unless we went swimming) and that’s when we read. After lunch when we were all together, we had a required reading time. During that time, we sat down in the same room and read for about 15 minutes 3-4 times per week.
To make this idea work with your family, begin with 5 minutes if you need to and work your way up. If you have toddlers who won’t sit still for long, read to them quietly and then let them play quietly. You might try getting pillows out and reading on the floor, you may want to hang out on the sofa, or even read in bed. My kids used to love to read and do their school work on my bed. The goal is to enjoy reading and to spend quality time together.
Lastly, if all of the above fails, pray. God made your child and did not make a mistake. He has all the answers when we don’t. He created us with the ability to read and He will give you creative ideas to get your child to read.
Look for future posts in the reading corner that focus on reading for the 5-8 year old, 9-13 year old, and 14 year olds and above (including suggested books), tips for reading with preschoolers, and instilling a love of reading in your kids.