Meet Leah. She is my oldest at the ripe old age of 7. Among other things, she absolutely loves to read. By “loves” to read, I mean she will gladly take a punishment just to finish the chapter. She does have a few other interests that occasionally win her attention, but somehow it always comes back to something she read in a book. Recently, she read the first 4 books in the Chronicles of Narnia series in less than 4 days. For fun!
A few ideas for growing strong readers:
- Be a reader. Your child should see you reading and enjoying it. You can read the newspaper, magazines, the Bible, devotionals, mystery novels, even blogs. I love to read and my kids know it. If reading is a normal part of your life, it will be a normal part of your child’s life.
- Read to your kids. No, this does not have to be right before bed. You can read while they eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. Read cuddled up in the bed before you start your day. Read before nap. I even read as an incentive… “if you can clean this room in less than 5 minutes, I will read you a book.” Seriously- if you are excited about it- they will be too!
- Treasure books. Give them as gifts. Get them as gifts. Collect series of books. Even if you don’t love to read, act like you do. Pick some favorites or tell your kids about your favorites from childhood. When you pick up a book to read, say something to build excitement like “oh, I LOVE the ending of this one” or “the main character in this book is just like my dad.”
- Listen to books on CD. As my kids got old enough to grow out of naps, I would have them listen to books on CD instead of sleeping. They are also great for road trips or settling down before bed. Get classics from the local library or ask relatives to purchase them as gifts. Check out Jim Weiss for some of our favorites!
- Don’t watch TV. Read the research. Study after study has shown that TV is making us dumb. Even educational TV has shown to be far less effective than virtually every other method of learning. Watching TV does not engage the mind and it leaves less time for reading.
- Make it fun. Behind our couch we have built a reading corner. Since it is behind the couch, it has a lot more appeal than a shelf with some great books. Here are some other ideas for reading corners on Pintrest. Don’t have space? Set up one on special occasions, such as rainy days. Cover a table with a sheet and make a reading fort.
- Incentive Plans. Teachers have been onto this jewel for years. Some kids just LOVE incentives. The idea is simple. Make or buy a chart that records when your child reads. After the child reads 1 book or reads 15 minutes or whatever increment is appropriate, just check off one space. After the chart is filled, a prize is awarded. Could be TV time, computer time, ice cream, etc. Anything that motivates your child will work. Find a few example charts here.
- Stay up late. This is by far a family favorite. I let my kids stay up half an hour later if they can stay in their beds reading. I also allow the oldest to get out of her bed in the morning before 7:30 as long as she reads the Bible.
- Use Technology. If you have a child that is bent toward things with screens- let him read that way. Using a Kindle or an ipad to read a book can excite those who love gadgets! The world of apps are another great way to build reading skills without kids even knowing that is the goal. Check out apps for homeschooling for some great ideas.
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