Thanks to the many readers who told us what their families do to encourage their children to read. Here are some of their suggestions:
The budding illustrator
“If your child is not interested in reading you may want to read to him and then let him draw a picture of the story. My son now enjoys books and stories because he has learned to listen to the story and then put it on paper.”
The budding author
“I have my children write their own book about a subject that interests them.
First, I take blank paper and cut it into quarters. Then I staple the book together along the longer side. My children, ages 5 and 7, then pick something they like, (i.e. spiders, sharks, flowers, butterflies, etc.). They write a title and draw a title picture on the front. Then on each left page they write a fact about the subject. And on the right page they draw and color a picture about the sentence or sentences they wrote on the opposite page.
For my younger child, I will write the sentence as dotted lines. Then she traces over it. She still tells me what to write, I just aid her a little more since she has not yet started school. She already knows all of her alphabet by doing this.”
Read a chapter a day
“One tradition that I started as a child and continue to this day is reading a chapter every night before I go to bed. Have them pick the story and discuss it with them briefly during the day to keep them interested.”
Reading goals and rewards
“When my son was in the fourth grade, I created summer reading goals with rewards that he selected for each reading goal. I would peruse books that were both challenging to read and had subjects that he would be interested in.
Depending on the size and difficulty of the books, I assigned a number of points for each book. I set three reading points goals and each goal had a prize. I let my son choose the prize for each goal (within reason). For the first goal of 30 points, he chose a New York Yankees baseball cap. I don’t remember what the second place prize for 40 points was but the third place prize for 50 points was a baseball that registers the speed of the pitch when thrown. Each time my son finished a book, we would add the points to his scorecard. At the end of the summer he had over 50 points and got the baseball.
He enjoyed reading that summer and was rewarded for his efforts—what a great summer!”
Library summer reading clubs
“The best thing that we have done over the years is to sign up with a summer reading club at our local library. The school he attends gives each grade a recommended reading list to coincide with this reading program. Not only do I have my son get involved, but the neighbors’ children also. They get a thrill at the number of books they read and enjoy the little prizes that are given out by the library for certain amounts of time spent reading. It works like a charm.”
Incentive to read
“My daughter loves to read The Magic Tree House books, because it’s like taking an adventure to somewhere new in every book. However, she loves to watch movies as well. So our new deal has been we will only buy new movies or go to see a movie if she finishes a book. We don’t have cable in our home, so that has always been a great incentive to get her to read.”
“My son is in the third grade and we plan on continuing with The Revenge of the Shadow King. It’s a wonderful book full of imagination, adventure, and mystery. We were hooked right from the start and plan on reading the book over the summer. Kids of all ages will enjoy this flight through the imagination. It’s a real treat and my son can’t put it down once he gets started. What more could a parent ask for!”
“I love the book, The Last Badge, by George McClements. It was the 2006 winner of the KIND book award (given to a children’s book that promotes environmentalism or kindness to animals). If you have a son or daughter who love scouting, Girl Guides, adventuring, then this is the book for you. We use the book to talk about the decision made by the Cub Scout at the end of the book—why he made that decision, what would they do, and why? (I won’t ruin the ending). It is also a great picture book so a younger child will enjoy it, too.”