I love seeing my kids reading a book. The best is when it just happens, but usually it doesn’t just happen. Usually it requires some effort on my part, and getting them to choose a book, and then read it can be a battle. They are busy, they don’t want to, they don’t have time, but they must, and so, I persist.
Below are some tricks I use at home and in my school library to help kids to read more books.
Offer a Only Small Selection of Books
This is counterintuitive, I know, but years of library experience has taught me that the hardest thing for a reluctant or out of practice reader to do is to chose a book. Many kids will wander around the shelves, but they will resist choosing a book. If that sounds like your kids, then you might have to choose a few books for them until they get the hang of reading and choosing books for themselves.
I compare taking a reluctant reader to the library to taking a person who doesn’t like to cook to the grocery store and saying, “look around and pick out anything you like to cook.” If you don’t like to cook, the grocery store can be overwhelming. The same is true for a kid who doesn’t like to read – too many choices can be overwhelming.
Get Some Help
If you aren’t sure what to pick you could ask:
- Moms of kids’ friends
- Book Sellers
- Amazon has several different ways to search for books. You could even use amazon for research, and then get the books from a library.
When I have a reluctant reader in the library, I try the below strategies for getting a student to commit to a book:
- Pick a book with a friend
- Pick a series, that makes choosing the next book easier
- A graphic novel
- A book that is also a movie
- Non-fiction with a lot of pictures
Reading is a skill that gets better with practice, and just like you wouldn’t go to the gym and start with the heaviest weights, you shouldn’t force your kids to read something that looks educational, or hard. Accept anything they want to read, and be happy they are beginning to read again. These are some books my family has read and enjoyed.
Have a Conversation About the Books and the Characters
It might seem impossible to have a conversation about a book you haven’t read, but if you keep the questions open ended you can do it, or you could read the book, too! Below are some questions you can ask anywhere and anytime about a book your kids are reading. They work for any child, any genre, and can be starting points for a discussion in the car, at the dinner table, or on a walk.
- Which one of your friends would you recommend this book to? Why?
- Did the ending leave room for another book to come out?
- How could the book be turned into a movie or TV show? Who would play the main character?
- Which character did the author like the most?
- Did you think of any character as your spirit animal?
- Why did the author write this story?
- Do you think the book ended the way the author thought it would?
- How did you decide to read this book?
- Is this an author or genre that you would like to read more of? What are your options?
Good luck getting your kids into the reading habit!
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Maureen Paschal is a freelance writer, a teacher-librarian, and a mom of four almost grown kids. She blogs at Raising The Capable Student where her goal is helping parents to keep family life a priority and school success in perspective. Her work has been featured in On Parenting from the Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Perfection Pending, and Today Parents.