Getting your child interested in reading is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. I understand it isn’t always easy. Just try to think of your time and energy as an investment in your child’s reading future. Here are some practical tips for getting your child interested in reading…
- Watch the movie first
While there aren’t movie equivalents for every book, there is a large selection of children’s literature out there. If you can find them, watch and discuss them together. Some suggestions are: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Lemony Snicket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlotte’s Web, Hoot, etc.
- Find books with cartoons or humor — which only a child would find amusing
Not everything needs to be a learning lesson. Letting children read books such as Big Nate or Diary of a Wimpy Kid will keep them engaged and entertained. Although adults might find the language and humor distasteful, children find it very funny and are therefore more motivated to read.
- Zero in on your child’s passions and choose books and magazines focused on areas of interest
Find books on specific topics to keep your child’s interest, such as science, baseball, American Girl dolls, etc. Children who already have the background knowledge, language and vocabulary before beginning a book will have an easier time getting through the reading. Order a magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids or Nickelodeon. Children love receiving mail and reading ‘their’ magazines.
- Get your child an email account and, together, check it regularly
Using the computer to read and write is a huge advantage for most students. By letting young children write and send email, they practice reading, writing and spelling. Teach your child how to use spell check before sending off messages. Be sure to monitor your child’s ‘pen pals’ – who is your child writing to and receiving mail from? Let your child pick out a few family members, including grandparents and maybe two or three friends. You will find that by using email regularly, your child becomes very strong in typing (keyboarding) and using the computer.
- Find an author that your child likes and stick with it
If your child loves reading Hank Zipzer by Henry Winkler or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, then you have found a writing style which stimulates your child’s interest. Go through the entire series. Don’t worry if the reading is below grade level: your child is reading for pleasure and for practice. Also remember, just because you loved a certain author or series when you were a kid, this doesn’t mean your child will love the same books you did. Browse the bookstore or library and find the newest, most modern series. Usually these books contain language and themes to motivate the most reluctant reader. Kids need to relate to what they are reading, and modern language usage helps.
- Get books with large print
For some children with learning difficulties, getting books with larger type can be helpful. Maybe it’s because the pages are less intimidating with less text, or maybe it is the fact that there are fewer words on each line, but it seems to make the reading a bit easier.
- Let your child talk to you about the book they are reading.
When we adults read books we enjoy, we like to talk about them. After reading a book, we don’t necessarily want to write a summary, book report or make a project of it. We just want to discuss it with someone else. Look interested in what your child is reading (yes, even if it is Captain Underpants) and ask questions and have your child tell you about it. Laugh with your child about the funny parts (even at the bathroom jokes) and help your child feel good about reading.
Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com