For many people, nothing is better than curling up in a comfy chair with a captivating novel or picking up a book that digs deep into an obscure interest. Whether your love of reading came from an insatiable curiosity or from an inspiring role model, you learned to see reading as more than a mandatory task to get through school. Unfortunately, some kids see reading as something to avoid because it’s too difficult or too boring, or something just not worth fitting into their busy schedules. But choosing to read for personal enrichment rather than to fulfill an academic requirement is possible. Keep reading to learn how you can help a young person in your life develop a life-long love of reading.
Anxiety, frustration, apathy, and boredom are just some of the feelings that might be getting in the way of accessing the rewards of reading. Some reluctant readers, for example, resist reading because it’s too difficult: they have reached a point of learned helplessness and have given up on trying to read, believing they will never be good at it. Someone who hates reading may also struggle to understand why reading matters in the “real world” or associate reading with bad experiences. Perhaps the only reading experiences a child has had are texts assigned in school, which turns reading into a chore paired with the anxiety of passing or failing. Sometimes a child’s interest and ability to read could simply be a case of not having enough time to do it, especially high school students who are balancing academics, extracurriculars, and a social life.
If you need ideas for how to motivate your child to not only read more but to approach reading with confidence and a more positive attitude, consider the following recommendations:
- Review the rewards of reading. Talk openly and honestly about why reading is important. Readers are better critical thinkers who know how to evaluate new ideas and information. They are also constantly building their vocabulary and familiarizing themselves with models of good writing, boosting standardized test scores and unlocking college and career success. And, of course, reading is fun! It’s a great way to nurture creativity and learn more about interests and hobbies.
- Improve literacy skills. Seek out support to help your child develop their literacy skills (e.g. phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) and learn reading strategies (e.g. how to skim academic texts for thesis/main idea, analyze literary elements, annotating).
- Help them troubleshoot. Reading can be a challenge, so it’s always good to have a back up plan. Audiobooks and reading guides, such as LitCharts, are useful tools to get through difficult books and assignments.
- Set goals and challenges. Search for a list of recommended books, such as The Ultimate YA Summer Reading List or Book Suggestions by Genre for Grade 9–12 Readers, and challenge your child to read as many as they can. Offer positive reinforcement or rewards for achieving a reasonable goal.
- Stay positive. Stop yourself from offering too many opinions about what your child reads and embrace their reading choices. Take note of both big and small successes.
- Share role models. If you want your child to make reading a bigger part of their lives, then show them that it is important to you, too! Read the news together or keep a book by your bed to read before bedtime. Demonstrate good reading habits. Sympathize with their struggles by sharing any issues you have had with reading, but also let them know how good it feels to overcome a challenge. Identify other inspirational role models (e.g. successful people with dyslexia).
- Expand their choices. Identify your child’s interests and connect them to reading material that they will want to read. Help your child access ebooks or take them to a bookstore or library. Experiment with different genres, including fiction and nonfiction, and alternative reading options, such as graphic novels, cookbooks, or blogs.
- Get hooked on a series or author. Bingeing isn’t just for television series. There are several prolific authors (e.g. Stephen King, Carl Sagan, David McCullough, Isaac Asimov, etc.) or series of books (e.g. Harry Potter, Shadow and Bone, To All The Boys That I’ve Loved Before, Twilight, The Hunger Games, etc.) that can be a gateway to reading for your child.
- Establish a routine. As a family, agree on a regular reading time. Pick a time that fits your family, whether that’s a few minutes every day or Saturday mornings, and consider making this time screen-free. Make sure everyone has a comfortable and cozy place to read.
- Make it an experience. Pair reading with fun activities to enrich the experience or to use as incentives. If a book mentions certain foods or meals, go to a restaurant or try your hand at cooking to get a taste. Visit museums or go on trips that relate to the topics and places referred to in books. Make reading a multisensory experience.
- Use local libraries. Your local public library is a perfect place to ask for reading suggestions, find books and magazines, and attend programs, clubs, and events.
- Talk about it. Help your child find a book club or use social media to talk about what they’re reading. Ask your child questions about what they’re reading or engage them in a good-natured debate about a topic they’re reading.
How A+ Can Help
Young people who commit to developing better reading habits and a love of reading give themselves a chance to nourish their interests as well as build skills that translate to academic success. You can encourage your child to read by understanding why they are a reluctant reader and choosing strategies that will help them break through those roadblocks. For additional support, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring offers academic tutoring services, including Reading Decoding, Comprehension, and Remediation tutoring and English Grammar, Literature and Writing tutoring. Summer is a great time to get your child excited about reading again, so consider a summer enrichment program to provide your child with support for any summer reading assignments and to boost their confidence and love of reading.
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Director Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188.