We were so honored to have the brilliant Melissa Taylor share these tips in 2012 for helping a reluctant reader discover a love for books. Her advice is wonderfully helpful, so we are republishing it now to help more parents encourage their children to read.
As a teacher and avid reader, I dreamed that my kids would be just like me and love to read. Oh, the shock of reality.
Not only did my first daughter, AJ, not want to sit for an entire picture book, she actively resisted reading. Visualize me chasing her around the house with a picture book trying to finish the story.
It became clear to me – eventually, I’m a slow learner – that AJ hated to sit still. So, I figured that I better find a way to make reading active instead of “sitty”.
Here are eight strategies that worked to get my active child reading, that can work for your child as well.
Listening to an audiobook isn’t reading text but it is building a love for stories, and an understanding of story elements – plot, conflict, characterization, and so on. It counts and it works.
2. Mealtime Reading
Don’t worry about reading to your kids at bedtime if you can fit in some good books during the day – like at snacks and mealtime. When my daughter was strapped in her highchair, happily eating, she became a captive listener to all the picture books I could read.
3. The On-the-Floor, Standing-Up, Anywhere Reader
Let your child read on the floor. Add pillows and blankets to make it cozy. Then he can roll and move around while reading. Or, if he likes, let him stand. Or do yoga poses. Whatever taps into his need to move.
Something about electronics gets kids mesmerized, er, engaged. See if your child will read on the iPad, NOOK, or computer. Often this is the BEST way to get kids to sit and focus. (Which is kind of scary sometimes!)
5. Record Your Own Movie
Help your child direct and record her own movie based on a book’s story that he or she has read. Or let her record a book review and upload it to a site like KidVuz.com.
6. Non-Fiction Books
Don’t forget about non-fiction. The great thing about non-fiction is you can dip into them wherever you like. You don’t have to read from cover to cover. Great for kids with shorter attention spans.
7. Picture Books
Picture books aren’t just for toddlers. In fact, they give active readers amazing stories that can be read in one sitting. Many are written at 4 th or 5th grade level. Check out School Library Journal’s list of top picture books.
8. Magical Cushion or Ball
Invest in a tactile seat cushion for reading like this one from Fun and Function or an exercise ball. Sitting on these allow kids to wiggle and bounce, providing the movement that they like, while they’re reading. I highly recommend these.
I know it’s hard when your child doesn’t want to read. Keep trying, and don’t give up. Once a child is a reader, he or she will be able to do anything in life. Find more activity ideas, book lists, and product suggestions in my new book, Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader.
Melissa Taylor is a mom, teacher, writer, and blogger at Imagination Soup.