Reluctant Reader? Maybe it’s Your Approach
You see and hear this everywhere you turn, but I have to say it once more. It is SO very important for you to be reading with your child every day or nearly every day. The hard part is making it fun. Here are a few suggestions for making reading a better experience, for both you and him.
1) Choose books in which your child is interested. This is an important element in engaging him as a reader. If you have a resistant reader and the content is not to his liking, it may be perceived as tedious. This is the last thing we want. Whether it is action, mischief, humor, or gross things, if it will get him reading, then go with it! Something else to remember… if a book is a chore for you to read, it will be for him as well. Don’t be afraid to say, “This book is boring. Let’s choose another!” He will appreciate your honesty.
2) Rereading a story has benefits. The second, third, or even fourth reading can improve fluency, inflection, and comprehension. These books probably should be a little more challenging. You need to show excitement, even disbelief at how much better he reads it each time!
3) Get your child to compete with himself! The more times he reads a passage or story, the better he will get. Tell him that you can really tell the difference when he reads it again. Ask him if he can tell as well! Make it a challenge for him to outdo the time before. Feel free to model what a passage should sound like when being read on the expert level.
The different types of levels can be explained this way:
Student: sounding out words, choppy (This is NORMAL on the first attempt and he might need a reminder.)
Robot: able to read all of the words, but still sounds a little boring (word calling)
Expert: able to read without mistakes and to use expression in his voice (fluent like you’re having a conversation and able to use expression)
*Remind him that even adults might not read on the expert level without reading it a few times!
4) Our lives are busy and fitting in time to read is often difficult. That said, he still needs to read. Make the decision early to put on a happy face during this time. If he knows it is an imposition for you to put this time aside, it will be reflected in his effort and enthusiasm. Even if you must pretend, be excited and be a cheerleader. If you are reading a chapter book, tell him that you CAN’T wait to read the next chapter tomorrow night. Tell him that you CAN’T believe he was able to sound out a particular word. When you drop him off in the morning, tell him that you were amazed at how well he read last night and you CAN’T wait to see if he can do it again tonight.
5) Model how to react during certain parts of the story. Often times, they are so caught up in the labor of reading, they forget to enjoy it. Model when it is an appropriate part to giggle in the story. Ask him to tell his aunt about the funny part in the story he read to you. During a time that he is rereading a passage, anticipate the funny part and even say, “Oh, here comes my favorite part!” The same goes for a sad part or a scary part.
You get the idea. If you act excited, he will be excited. If you act frustrated, he will be frustrated. If you have had a bad day and are short on patience, then it may be a night to skip. Keep it positive, and I promise this time will be beneficial. Don’t allow the perception that reading is a chore to creep into your evening routine. Fake it, til you make it! Keep in mind that this is only temporary, but the payoff is infinite!
(I originally wrote this post for the Presbyterian Day School Blog bit.ly/1JHoEss )