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Getting lost in a far off land of fictional books appeals to my imagination but not everybody is interested in that form of escapism. Some would say it’s pointless and impractical or just plain unbelievable. Reading is simply, not for everyone. Or is it? We are all different but everyone still has an interest in something, whether that’s quantum physics or dogs who can dance in the rain! In some form or other there is always a book and probably even one hundred books to be found about a given topic. There are many benefits to reading and that is why people start getting agitated and opinionated when they come across a reluctant reader. We’ve all had times when we’re just settling into, what we think is going to be that special cosy reading time with our children, only to be jumped on, interrupted with a totally random question about loom bands or a sudden desperate plea for the toilet! However, dealing with a reluctant reader is more than the odd lack of motivation and the anxiety it can cause between parent and child is often hard to cope with. It can come to a point when it’s far less stressful just to avoid the whole situation altogether. As understandable as this is, obviously this is not the ideal solution as reading has a far reaching impact on an individual’s personality, social skills, knowledge, imagination, comprehension, to name but a few. So here are some tips on how to turn your reluctant reader into a master reader.
- Let your child choose the book they want to read. It sounds simple but if your child is interested in the book, you’re off to a good start as they’re more likely to want to read it. Sometimes merely finding the right book that grabs their attention can make all the difference.
- Show an interest in the books your child is reading. Ask them questions, point out bits you like, chat about the illustrations but try and avoid making it sound like a test.
- Ask your child to read out loud to you and give it your full attention. Let this be your special ten minutes together out of a busy daily schedule. Hearing their voice out loud can help them with pronunciation in particular. Listen to the words they are struggling with. Help them sound these words out and ask if they know what the word means and explain if not. This will help increase their vocabulary and comprehension. Even when they are fluent readers children will often read a word without having a clue what it means.
- If your child has a younger sibling, suggest they read to them. This can be a major boost for their confidence.
- Read to your child daily and read it with enthusiasm, maybe using different voices and sounds. Yes you may look and sound ridiculously silly but it will be so much more entertaining for your child! Point to the words as you read them to help word recognition. Again let them choose the book first, otherwise choose a topic you think they might enjoy or a book that makes them laugh so reading and listening to it becomes a pleasure for both of you. Reading to them will help improve their listening skills, concentration and use of intonation.
- Don’t feel guilty if you use another device. In this day and age, traditional books aren’t the only access we have to reading. There are I-pads, Kindles, computers and Smart phones. Undoubtedly any of these will look way more exciting to a reluctant reader and could engage their interest far quicker and for longer. It’s all about making reading interesting to your child so they are keen to read more.
- Reading isn’t just about books. There are many other things we could read. You can get your child reading at any time and often they won’t even notice they are doing it! Show them reading can be fun. Make a cake and get your child to read out the ingredients to you, take them on a treasure hunt and get them to read the clues, play a car game to spot certain road signs, get them to read their menu at a restaurant, play a board game and ask them to read the instructions to you, pull up their favourite website, read competitions on cereal boxes, the programme at the theatre or comic strips in magazines. The list is endless, it is just a matter of giving your child access to these opportunities that we might otherwise automatically do for them and suddenly there becomes a practical reason for them to read.
- Demonstrate your love of reading too. Children are great copycats and whether we like it or not our children will always adopt our habits and opinions to some extent. Therefore, logically there’s a greater chance that if you’re an avid reader yourself, your child is more likely to follow suit from being intrigued by what you find so fascinating about reading. The reality though is that not all of us as adults have this passion ourselves and are less inclined to bother changing it later in life and even those that do, often struggle to find the time to read. However, it is still possible to show a love of reading as part of our daily routine. For example, books might not interest you but reading a daily paper or monthly magazine might or checking through a manual on your favourite past time. Simple, enjoyable activities like these can all help and even show that reading reaches far beyond fairies and zombies (don’t get me started on zombies!). We want them to read because they want to, not because they are told they have to.
- Where’s the fun in a difficult book? There are many reasons why your child may be a reluctant reader, one being that the books they have are too difficult for them. Don’t rush them onto a higher level book just because their friends might be reading it. Every child progresses at their own rate and rushing can often have the reverse effect. They should be able to read most of the words in the book fluently with a few longer more difficult words thrown in to challenge them; otherwise they may quickly become discouraged and frustrated. If they really want to read a book they are struggling with but it’s popular with their peers and they want to join in with the chat about it at school, read it to them until they are ready to tackle it themselves and concentrate on the books that are at a more suitable level to build confidence.
- Make reading time special and it can create long lasting fond memories. For some children it is purely the regular bedtime stories that makes them feel secure and loved but sometimes a little more creativeness may be required. Put out a special reading rug or blanket hideout, find novelty places for story time in a tree house, tent or on a trampoline. Invite their favourite teddy to listen too. Small touches can lead to a big change in their attitude towards reading.
Even if you don’t do all of these tips just trying a few could make such a difference to your child’s future. To me being able to read and loving it can open up so many doors for opportunity.
Here’s a great website I found which suggests books to help inspire reluctant readers of all ages. http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/genre/rel/Reluctant-Readers.html