For some kids, reading is like doing the hokey pokey upside down, underwater, in a clown suit. It’s freakishly hard. And not at all fun.
So it’s our job – as the ingenious parents we are – to sell it. And we can. We can help make reading fun.
Fun Rule #1: Read the right books.
Nothing is more discouraging that trying to read Dostoyevsky when you’re better suited to Rick Riordan or Dr. Seuss. Be sure your child is reading books that are appropriate for his reading level, not books that are too challenging. Challenging equals discouraging. Use the 5 Finger Test to help.
Fun Rule #2: Let kids choose their own books.
Your kids love being in charge of their lives. That’s why I say to let them load up on books that look interesting to them. (This is much cheaper at the library – even if you do have to pay overdue fines. I like to think of it as my way of supporting the new building fund. Gulp.)
Fun Rule #3: Go beyond the (traditional) book.
Do you know that it counts to read an audiobook? Yes, it is listening but here’s why it counts: it builds vocabulary and background knowledge about topics and literary devices. And what’s even better, it helps kids find the magic in the story itself. This is the KEY to loving to read and what kids miss when they’re overwhelmed with reading itself.
Also, don’t forget about reading books on devices such as an iPad or Kindle. Since many kids are mesmerized by technology, technology can make reading way enticing.
Finally, remember those magazines and comic books. Dare I sound repetitive when I mention that they also count as reading?
Fun Rule #4: Create a totally awesome reading area.
Work with your child to make a reading area he’ll want to hang out in. Think college-dorm cool: rugs, lamps, beanbags, posters. Set the mood for fun. Then bring in the books, and voilà – you’ve created great ambience for reading.
Fun Rule #5: Be a little naughty.
Try these rule-breaking ideas:
- Allow your frustrated reader to stay up late with a super cool new headlamp and a good book.
- For reading time, you read to her – instead of the other way around. And maybe even read in your best silly or fancy voice.
- Let your child move while reading. Jump on the tramp, sit on an exercise ball, or hula-hoop and read.
Fun Rule #6: Don’t ignore the elephant.
If your child needs reading help, get it for her now. Testing, tutoring, whatever. Don’t wait. It won’t go away. Trust me. I’ve tried denial as a coping strategy and it does not work. (Darn it!) That elephant in the room is only going to grow. And I’m pretty sure it weighs a gazillion tons.
You’ve totally got this!