Shannon Wiersbitzy is a middle-grade author in the Philly area. Her book The Summer of Hammers and Angels is currently nominated for the William Allen White award, the oldest children’s choice award in the US. Your kids will be captivated reading this story about small town miracles and a heart-warming community. Part of Shannon’s book proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. She has a passion for inspiring young readers, so she was kind enough to write this post. Also, comment on this post, and I’ll send out a free copy of the book to one of my readers!
For those of you with reluctant readers, the dreaded “required reading” time has begun again. If your house is like my house, your reader will procrastinate, complain, forget their book at school, or conveniently lose it at home when it comes time to check this task off the homework list.
I’ve got two boys. One is an avid reader. We can’t keep him in books! The other. Well, let’s just say he’d rather do just about anything else other than read. Even clean.
If you’ve got a reluctant reader, the first thing I suggest is trying to figure out WHY they feel that way.
My big breakthrough with my 10 year old son came when he was in second grade and I asked this question, “How does reading make you feel?” His answer? “Lonely.” It almost broke my heart. I had no idea that giving him a book and telling him to sit quietly by himself made him feel terrible. The book itself wasn’t the problem, it was the solitude.
So we set about solving that problem. These tips might work for your reluctant reader too.
Read aloud. My son and I keep one book as a read-aloud. We snuggle in the bed or on a couch (hard to feel lonely that way!) and I read, or we take turns reading paragraphs or chapters. There is time for chatting and discussing what’s happening. All part of making a book more social.
Read as a family. We’ll call “reading time” on a weekend or during a vacation, and everyone grabs a book, hangs somewhere in the same room, and we read. Having a reading “pack” always quells the complaints.
Read with or to a dog (or another pet). Libraries and schools all over the country have begun using therapy dogs as literacy boosters. Kids who might be fearful of reading in front of other children or adults are less fearful of reading to a dog. And having a dog to touch while reading can be a comfort to a reader like my son.
Use an ereader. Who knew percentages could be so motivating? But they are for some kids! We’ve got several Kindles at our house. My son loves being able to read and see his progress. Knowing he went from 39% finished to 51% finished works for him. Plus to figure out the percentage he read, he needs to do the math. Win, win!
If your reader finds themselves more daunted by the words than the loneliness, some of the tips above may still work for you. You might also try these ideas.
Choose books with words and pictures. There are many comic type series today. They may not be fine literature, but if they keep your child reading, that’s a positive.
Reread favorites. Let your child pick a book they’ve already read, or one they’ve read a few times. If they’re struggling, imagine how tiring that can be. Having a break with a book they enjoy, and one they know they can handle, might just give them the confidence to tackle a new and more difficult one.
Not every adult loves to read, and not every child does either. As a book lover myself, I can’t imagine not wanting to sit down and turn the page, but I try to see the world through my son’s eyes. I try to be patient, and kind, and meet him where he is. If I do that today, and tomorrow, and the next day, then maybe one day, he will learn to love reading as much as I do. Hope these tips help your reader too. Good luck!