How To Inspire Reluctant Readers to READ
Here’s the deal…reading is important. Ugh! I know, I know, this post makes you wanna cringe, but stick with me. If you have a tough time reading in your family or a kid that particularly refuses to read, I want to give you hope.
When I was a kid there wasn’t all this A.R. crap, lol. Sorry, if you are a fan of the Accelerated Reader program then I may offend you. I hate the pressure on kids to read a certain number of books for a certain number of points each month, quarter or year. It puts such a stress on them not only to read but to perform well on the comprehension tests afterwards. I was a slow reader as a child. I remember clearly getting a little nervous during class reading time, just hoping the teacher didn’t call on me. I know that other kids read way faster than me as I sometimes struggled through sentences. I remember reading a Weekly Reader one time in class and having such a hard time saying “4 Million Dollars” when the words printed were $4 Million but I kept pronouncing as 4 dollars million. Haha, the dumb things that stick with me.
We did book reports to show the teacher that we really read the books we claimed to. In fifth grade we had too many book reports, in my opinion. I honestly couldn’t make it through a complete chapter book before the report was due. I loved Babysitter’s Club books back then and would get a few chapters in and figure that the report was gonna be due before I could make it to the end of the book. What did I do? Tell my parents? Ask the teacher for more time? Naw, I pretended that I read the book. I did the most amazing book reports as a kid. I never got less than an A…literally there was almost always a red plus sign next to that A. I learned that with the first few chapters under my belt, a few chapters at the end and reading the front and back cover I could kind of fool the system…plus I turned in amazing reports with neat illustrations, few spelling errors and probably some b.s. thrown in for good measure. Is it wrong to be proud of this, lol?
Here’s my takeaway- some kids are slower readers. They feel pressured and they give up like I did a few chapters in. But here’s the hope for kids that were like me and parents of those kids…I am a really fast reader now. I absolutely love to read. A lot of moms say that they don’t have time to read once they have kids. I figured I would grow up thinking that too…but it turns out that I actually LOVE reading now. My husband and I end many of our dates at a bookstore and I rarely leave without a new novel of the mystery genre.
If you are a parent of an elementary or junior high student then you know that reading is a big part of homework. Something that has made a huge rise in the excitement for my kids at bedtime is reading a book that has a movie version. I wrote a post called Secrets to a Peaceful Bedtime Routine where I purchased a classic Wizard of Oz book. I told the kids that when we finished it we could do a family movie night with popcorn and blankets to watch the film. I was reading to ages 5-11 each night and all of them loved it. It was silent, they asked for more chapters each night and went to bed without chaos. I honestly enjoyed this way more than I expected. Well, we finished the book and watched the movie last night. It was a production in the Sierra household. Blankets, pillows, caramel corn, hot cocoa with whipped cream and green sugar sprinkles just like the glittering emerald city of Oz.
If you are really having reading struggles with your kids, try not to lose hope. They may blossom in their own timing if reading isn’t viewed as a negative chore. Make books an event. Read “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and make spaghetti for dinner. Or take a walk together after reading “We’re Going on a Lion Hunt.” Be creative. If they hate reading then read to them. Set a fun goal for the end of the book that will reward them for all the nights of listening. My kids watched the Wizard of Oz movie and noticed so many differences than in the book. Did you know in the book the slippers were silver glitter, not red. Even my 5 year old remembered the word “humbug” which was a reference to the Wizard. My oldest son took an A.R. test on the Wizard of Oz at school once we finished it. He got the highest score he’d ever gotten 19/20 points! Pretty good reward for him, plus it boosted his comprehension score for reading. So even though I’m not a fan of these tests, even as a former teacher, I must say it was pretty rewarding to know how much of the book he actually remembered.
Reading is important, it is cool and it is a necessary skill. Do your best to make it enjoyable and not to put too much pressure on your children. I bet if it’s something that you do together, they will treasure it more.