Perfecting a skill takes practice. So what happens when the skill that needs practice is something your student dreads? Here are four effective ways parents can encourage reluctant readers to read.
- Find topics of interest Many students claim they don’t like to read, but are unaware of books or magazines containing topics of interest to them. If your child is reluctant to read, take a step back and identify what things your child does like. Chances are books related to your child’s primary interests would spark more reading enjoyment. A multitude of resources are available to help lead your child to topics of interest. A simple place to start is your local public library, where librarians are happy to provide suggestions based on your child’s favorite hobbies, TV shows, sports, and other interests. Another useful resource is the website whatshouldireadnext.com, which suggests books based on the titles of previous books your student has enjoyed.
- Redefine what you consider reading Just because your student doesn’t like novels or nonfiction doesn’t mean she can’t practice her reading skills in other ways. Comic books, magazines, graphic novels, blogs, newspapers -- all count as reading! Encourage your student to read whatever formats she enjoys most, and her overall reading abilities will benefit as well.
- Be a reading role model As with many behaviors you want to encourage, your child is much more likely to read if he sees you reading. "Do as I do" is generally more effective than "Do as I say." Show your child the pleasure that comes from reading. If you have the time, consider reading alongside him. Most teachers will be happy to provide an extra copy of a school-assigned book for you to read at home. Reading the same text as your child will allow you to help him with any stumbling blocks. Even better, reading together may open avenues for discussions about literature, and life in general, between you and your child.
- Provide access to books Studies have shown that children who grow up in homes where books are abundant achieve at higher levels than those whose access is limited. Having books at home for your children to explore in their spare time is yet another easy way to develop good reading habits.
If you’re looking for more help on what to do if your child doesn't like to read, we recommend checking out Donalyn Miller’s book, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. While Miller’s expertise centers on middle school students, her advice is useful with children of all ages.
Photo Courtesy of malyousif on Flickr.