4 Easy Ways to Encourage Reading in Children!
Q: My 6 1/2 year old HATES to read! Her teachers have said she’s reading at grade level. But every night we go through the same “I hate to read” routine which includes (but not limited to) – crying, slouching, squirming, whining, exasperation, which culminates into an overall meltdown. PLEASE HELP!!
A: Oh my can I SO relate to this! When my son started kindergarten, part of his nightly assignment was to read for 15 minutes. I went through the EXACT same thing, the whining, slouching, squirming…EXACTLY!! He already had excellent phonetic awareness so it’s not like he even struggled with it! I tried for 2 weeks and it actually got to the point where he started to resent books altogether, where he didn’t even want me to read to him at bedtime anymore. It was awful and I was so scared he would just grow to hate reading. So I backed way off. I stopped asking him to read at all and then just worked on him letting me read to him.
Read Silly Books at Bedtime
This is what I started with, finding the funniest, silliest books I could find to re-spark his interest in books. It got to be so fun (he laughing out loud!) that his then 3 year-old siblings always wanted to come in his room at bedtime to hear his books. They all love the Big Nate and the Captain Underpants series. But some other fun ones that come highly recommended include No David!, almost anything from Dr. Suess, Frog and Toad, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing and Superfudge by Judy Blume, and Letters from a Desperate Dog.
Play Reading Games
Honestly, this is what saved my son’s relationship with reading. I decided the best way to get him reading was to play games that involve reading.
Single Word Games
I bought a set of Splat! cards and Spot It! He was always excited to play these games. It was fun, interactive and he only had to read one word at a time.
Active Reading Games
I also downloaded these great Kindergarten word flashcards from education.com. Click here to get them! I cut them out and then hid them around the house for a “Reading Word Treasure Hunt” when he found the word, he had to read it. Sometimes I’d put 2-3 words in one spot. He really loved this game AND it’s perfect for after school when kids have been sitting a lot and need some physical movement. Then I also took those same words and used them to create “word” hopscotch. As he jumped on the square, he had to read the word. This gave lots of repetition and another great physical game for after school.
Full Sentence Games
Soon we moved on to games that required more reading, like silly sentences and soon a trivia game called “Brain Quest”
Visit the Library
Outings are fun and can be special. Make the library into fun special time by letting your child choose books of interest. It’s one of the few times they can walk up to a shelf and just take whatever looks interesting to them and get to take it home! You can tack on a trip to coffee shop or ice cream, but not as a reward, rather a part of the special time together. You can look at the books she chose, as you enjoy your treats.
Find Books for Your Child’s Interests
You can do this at the library or if she has a really strong interest, consider buying a book she chooses at the book store. My son loves space so we did a lot of reading about space. Once he discovered Star Wars and all the kids books about Star Wars, that’s when his interest in reading really took off.
Reading as with anything, should never turn into a power struggle. It’s the surest way to invite further push-back and will likely create a resentment for books and reading altogether. So let go of the short term goal and focus on the long term. What we really want is for our kids to develop a love of reading. Using the strategies above, introduced slowly as your see your child’s interest for reading opening up is sure to create a new reader in your home! If you are dealing with power struggles with reading, or anything else and you just don’t know how to step out and but not let your child run the house, we have a great class on how to deal with power struggles.
I am happy to report that after an entire kindergarten year of reading games, my son was excited to sign up for the summer reading program at our local library and voraciously read through the reading requirements to complete it, and then doubled it!! He loves reading and reads to everyone, including his brother and sister. Phew!!