Motivating Your Child To Read
November 06, 2012
We recently received an email from a patron wanting to know how to motivate her 3rd grade student to read. I've encountered this question many times while working as a reading teacher. First of all, the key is to keep your student reading. Don’t worry about WHAT they’re reading so much as HOW LONG they're reading. Beginning readers need a lot of practice. Find a topic or genre that interests your reader and feed the interest. For example: If the child's favorite topic is caves, take him on a tour of a real cave, and perhaps even get in touch with a local spelunking club. In other words, generate excitement about the child's interests, and he or she will want to learn more about them from books.
Boys generally like nonfiction books that have lots of facts about subjects, such as caves. But be sure to include some fiction books as well (there are quite a few adventure stories that involve caves)! This will help to challenge the reader's imagination, which will allow the child to develop into an even better reader. Share interests and READ WITH YOUR CHILD. Setting a good example is very important.
One of the best tactics parents can use is to read in front of their kids. When you read in front of your children, you’re modeling the behavior you want them to mimic. Conversely, if they don’t see you reading, they’ll wonder why they should bother. Many families benefit from scheduling a daily time to read together, such as before dinner or bedtime. You don’t have to pick up War and Peace or Moby Dick. You can read your daily newspaper, magazine, or whatever you like. Just READ.
Also, READ TO your children even after they’re able to read on their own. This practice models FLUENCY in reading-that is, how words are strung together. It’s very important to develop reading fluency, because WITHOUT IT, READING IS NOT ENJOYABLE. Fluent reading leads to more success with writing, better vocabulary skills, and a greater understanding of what is being read. A fluent reader will pick up a book and read, even when it’s not assigned for class.
Read aloud often, and with great expression. Model how to raise and lower your voice to signal punctuation or emotions. Expose your children to a wide variety of literature, including poetry, excerpts from historic speeches, and folk and fairy tales with rich, lyrical language–texts that will spark your children’s interest and draw them into the reading experience. Believe it or not, singing is also a wonderful way to model fluency for your kids. Singing teaches rhythm, rhyming, and helps them hear how the voice can be used to express emotion. Our family did a lot of singing while running errands or traveling in the car.
Sometimes it’s fun to choose a good audiobook and listen to it as a family. You can model yet another valuable skill–LISTENING! I’ve had high school students tell me how much they missed storytime at the library. That’s why I always took time to read a chapter or two to my students. They really seemed to enjoy "just listening" for 15 minutes or so a day. Everyone enjoys a good story, no matter their age. It’s in our genetics! Our caveman forefathers used stories to pass on invaluable information to their families; surely the same practice can make our families stronger today, and can allow us to pass on the love of listening and reading to our children.
MCPL Librarians recommend the following titles:
Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment by Emma Hamilton
Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times by Andrew Piper
Book Crush by Nancy Pearl
Reading is Funny! Motivating Kids to Read with Riddles by Dee Anderson
What to Read When: the Books and Stories to Read with Your Child and all the Best Times to Read Them by Pam Allyn
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
Read With Me: Best Books for Preschoolers by Stephanie Zevirin
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
Silly Songs (CD)
102 Silly Songs (CD)
North Independence Branch