Helping Reluctant Readers Fall in Love with Literacy

October 27, 2014

It has become common knowledge that early exposure to literacy creates not only better readers but lifetime learners. But what if your child hasn’t yet found a passion for reading? We have compiled some sure-fire ways to help you get involved in sparking your child’s interest in reading, whether they’re just beginning to recognize letters or trying challenging chapter books.

1. Reading is Everywhere

Many parents feel pressure to get their kids reading books, but the world is made up of words. Think about how often you read in a day; you idly read the cereal box while eating breakfast, scan street signs and billboards on your way to work, even checking social media involves reading. This same concept applies to your child as well. If you’re having trouble getting them to focus on a story, have them read the words around them. Reading the menu at a restaurant or browsing online articles that interest them is just as beneficial in helping them recognize and learn words as reading a story book.

2. Monkey See, Monkey Do

A great way to get your child interested in anything is to be interested in it yourself.  Embody the benefits of reading for your child by showing them that you like to read, too.  A great way to incorporate reading into your family routine is to have a designated DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time.  Schedule a time in your day or week when everyone in the family will take time to read their own books together.  This encourages independent reading and shows your child that reading is a priority for your family.

Make Reading Fun

It’s tough to get your child to want to read if they don’t enjoy it.  Many kids associate reading with school and homework; things children don’t necessarily see as fun. When reading at home, allow your child to take the reins. Let him or her choose the book and allow them to read it the way they want to: if they want to skip around the book or repeatedly read the same page, let them. This is their time to use their imagination and explore the story.  When reading with your child, encourage them to think creatively.  Ask them what they think might happen next in a story or have them tell you a story that matches the pictures. This allows children to take ownership in their reading and stretch their imagination.

4. Read Aloud

The classic bedtime story is not only a way to soothe children to sleep, but it’s also an opportunity to incorporate reading into their daily lives; and make them look forward to it. Those few minutes spent together at the end of the day are ones children cherish; creating the connection between reading and something special. For young children hearing and seeing words at the same time helps them to make the connections necessary to become readers. However, don’t stop reading to your child just because they themselves have learned to read. Listening to stories strengthens children’s reading abilities as well and helps them read more fluently and with more inflection. Many children find that they don’t enjoy reading because they don’t understand what they’re reading. Reading aloud to your child helps bring the story to life, which helps to create an interest in reading.

5. Love the Library

For a child, any outing can be exciting. Use this to their educational advantage by making the library an exciting destination. Talk about your trip to the library in advance, creating anticipation and hype around the trip. When you arrive at the library, allow your child enough time to wander the stacks and explore the books. Remember, this trip is an experience, not just an errand to be checked off your list. Let your child choose whatever book he or she finds interesting, but keep in mind the 5-finger rule: have your child open the book to any random page and begin reading. Each time they come across a word they don’t know, have them put up a finger. If by the end of the page they have 5 fingers up, the book is most likely too hard for them. No fingers or one finger up indicates a book that is easier for the child, and could be used to build fluency. A book for which a child has put up 2 or 3 fingers is at a good level for challenging them and expanding their vocabulary.

6. Do it Write Together

A great way to get a child interested in a story is for them to write one! Writing helps children build vocabulary and create more sophisticated sentence structure. Make writing fun by creating a game out of it. Try writing the first sentence of a story and letting your child write the next. Take turns writing sentences until you have created a story together. Having your child read a story they’ve created will not only help them become a stronger reader, but will also give them confidence in their abilities as a writer.  Also, consider creating books out of the stories that your children have written. This can be done simply with staples or by stringing pages together. Have your child create a cover page and allow them to display their “book” where others can see.

7. Get some outside help

Explore Horizons enrichment and tutoring centers offer support in reading and writing right from pre-k through 8th grade. Our courses are tailored to the needs of every child and we are experts at building new skills, confidence, enthusiasm, and developing a genuine love of learning.  If you would like to find out more about how Explore Horizons can help your child with their reading then please visit our website and contact your nearest center for a free trial session.

Just a few simple adjustments in attitude or routine can change a child’s entire outlook on reading. What are some things you’ve done to help your child love the written word?

By Abby Ball (Colleyville Center Director)

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