Eight Tips for Helping Kids Love Reading
Kids love reading when they feel engaged, independent and successful. Teachers and parents have a valuable role to foster the love of reading by modeling good reading habits, appreciating children’s book choices, and offering multiple literary genres to explore.
Model the pleasure of reading
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Baldwin.
Your own interest and engagement with books have power. When you read and let your children see that you sincerely enjoy reading, they will be curious about it. Most likely, they will be interested in giving it a try.
Read books aloud for your children about topics they like. Don’t be surprised if they ask you to read more for them. Later, they will take the lead and will attempt to read for you. Listen to them because this is the best way to show that you care.
Whenever possible, talk about the books you read and share your feelings. Talk about the emotions and actions of the characters in these pages. Give them life with your words and share how you perceive them. Read poetry, newspapers, magazines, novels, and cartoons to display different genres of literature.
Allow Freedom of Choice
Freedom of choice is a child-driven approach. It considers the child’s autonomy to select the material to read, and it respects her choice of where, when and how to read. It understands that reading for fun is a very personal experience created by the reader. The hope is that children, while building their own experience with books, will develop warm feelings towards reading. Trying to promote the love of reading using textbooks, homework material or our favorite selection is not fun. We need to let our children choose their reading material. Imposing or even suggesting our preferences may have a negative effect. Just leave your favorite books available for them. They may be grabbed one day.
Honor Children Preferences
Children have all kinds of preferences, even boys and girls raised in the same family have different interests and motivations. Some children love sports or science, others prefer fantasy or adventure. Many young readers prefer biographies and stories about real-life events, and some may prefer crafting, cooking or baking. All topics and genres are fine. As long as your child reads age-appropriate selections with accessible language, reading may happen. The best books to develop the love of reading are those discovered by the child. The possibilities improve exponentially when the language of these books is accessible. If the child can read 19 out of 20 words successfully, the book is just right for independent reading (Shaywitz, 2005)
Allowing your children to choose the reading place and the ambiance is essential. Reading freedom may be expressed through the child’s preferences. Unusual creativity and unique arrangements may occur. Reading with lots of light or a flashlight, with or without music. Reading in bed or under the covers should not surprise you. As long as it’s safe, creativity and personal choices will be fine.
If your child picks a book that you dislike, avoid being judgemental. Comments such as “these are not good books, these are just comics” may convey an unintended disapproval. If you unintentionally do this, your child may answer back with a “Mom, Dad… These are not comics, we call them graphic novels!”
Select Appropriate Material
“Get the very best tools to serve your people, not just lots of tools”. John Stahl-Wert, The Serving Leader
To promote engagement, the reader needs books at the appropriate level of challenge. The selection of books for independent reading must be below the reading level of the child to be accessible. They should not be too easy to avoid boredom. To estimate the appropriate level of readability, parents and teachers may use the child’s age or the grade level. However, not all children can read on grade level. To address this issue, the 19 out of 20 words suggested by Dr. Shaywitz offers a good estimation. A more precise approach to find the right books is to use the various reading level scales including Lexile, AR, A-Z, DRA, PM and other scientifically developed standards. Most of the standardized reading assessments report the Lexile score.
Collaborate with Reading Teachers and Librarians
Teachers and librarians have a great grasp of these standards. They may easily put together a list of books to match your child’s reading level and interests. A great free option to select and read books, e-books, and audiobooks is Overdrive. This free online and mobile application allows you to access your local public or school library. The interphase of this app offers a powerful search engine to search books by level, topic, author, and other variables. Children may also use this application on their technologies using their library card or their school’s identification numbers.
Maintain Books Available
Kids love reading when they adopt favorite books and they own some of them. Since books are expensive, using public libraries is a great option to maintain abundant reading material available. Sometimes libraries give away old books or sell them at a bargain price. Thrift stores are also a fantastic source of affordable books. Teachers have some advantages and may use resources such as the Half Price Books Donation Program and other organizations to obtain donations. A good source of information in this regard is the article 15 Free or Cheap Ways to Stock your Classroom Library article written by Shellie Deringer.
Consider Using Technology
Some students may struggle to read for many reasons and should have access to stories and books using different formats. Today, we have access to audio books, reading websites, and reading apps. These technologies provide access to books with an enhanced experience. Reading a book while following along with a narrator is a sensorial experience that boosts reading. Again, applications such as Overdrive allow readers to check out both, the audiobook and the paper or digital copy to read in a bundle. This is somehow, reading in Stereo. An additional example of an effective reading technology is the Video Read Alouds hosted by the Indianapolis Public Library this free service is suitable for all ages and worth to try.
Modeling our love for reading validates the importance and the joy of reading. By allowing children to select their books, we are helping them to build their own criteria. By allowing them the freedom to read, we are promoting lifelong readers. We may be tempted to use these three strategies for students who are not yet readers and that is fine, we just need to make sure that they have sufficient assistance to cope with possible frustration caused by difficult words or literary devices.
Consider Learning About Reading
For parents and teachers wanting more information on how select books and how to help children improve reading, we have a couple of recommendations: The Read-Aloud Manual by Jim Trelease, and Chapter 19 of Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shywitz.
If you want to learn more about effective reading strategies to support children, join us for a free one hour webinar on May 30 or June 6, 2018, at 5:00 PM CDT. To register for any of these sessions please follow the link in the image below: