American children are reading less, and reading less well. National studies show that the number of students who read for pleasure is on the decline. Yet an annual survey by LeapFrog revealed that 60% of parents wish their children would read more. That information influenced the development of the Tag Reading System, which is designed to instill a love of reading in children ages 4-8.
We turn off the T.V. & spend a sitcom's amount of time reading -- ususally 30 min. I'm a picky reader myself and I have to be truthful -- many books don't compete with T.V. only because T.V. hands the excitement to us without us having to do any work -- but reading requires us to get involved and think and lets face it -- most of our kids have grown up in a "microwave" world and unless it is ready in an instant our kids struggle with doing it. As an educator I can tell you that even leapfrog programs understand this and are animated and interactive. Kids will sit for hours with a Leap Pad -- but a good old fashioned book -- not likely. If you want your kids to be readers -- then you have to start at birth valuing books in your home and purchase/borrow books that excite your kid. My son loves to be read to, but at the age of 4 he has 200 hundred books. My stepdaughter hates reading, only grandma read to her. The foundation for a love of reading occurs before age 5 -- teachers can only build on the foundation a parent lays. If you want your kid to read -- then provide opportunities to read to your kid.42371
My daughter is only 20 months but books are having a hard time competing with Elmo's World these days. Bedtime is mandatory book time. Sometimes she'll let me read her five books in a row and other times she wants to just sit in my lap and flip through the pages of a book on her own. I try to keep her engaged by doing different voices for the characters and pointing out different things in the illustrations. I also let her choose the books she wants to read. Right now she loves, "More, More, More, said the Baby," by Vera B. Williams, the original, "The Little Engine That Could," by Watty Piper, and "Go Dog, Go!" by P.D. Eastman. I think I know "Go Dog, Go!" by heart now.42372
If Elmo is what excites her ...... buy as many Elmo books as possible. My son loves Cars, Thomas the Train, Nemo etc. So I can get him to look at books about trains, fishes and cars for hours he has some favorites other then these like Put Me in the Zoo and Guess How Much I Love You. Building a love for reading is about tapping into a child's interest levels and building on what they really like..... If a kid has anything with writing in their hands.... cookbooks, craftbooks, magazines, etc. and they genuinely love what they read and are engaged and excited about it then you will lay the foundation for a positive feeling towards reading. Also consistency and specialness is important ..... my son loves snuggling next to me in my bed with fluffy pillows and blankets and we read forever ....... don't forget the voices and sound effects ..... they bring the book alive and do something that will surprise and enlighten them each time. I also encourage him to read a book to me .... naturally he combs the pages and mumbles but getting him involved is important -- ownership in the process is a huge component as well.
One more thing 1 min per year is about all you can developmentally expect from her in terms of sit still time. Expect 1-2 minutes for a 20 month old each time you read -- I used to read books with one or 2 words per page when my son was that little. If you can hold her attention she'll sit longer, but some books are pretty wordy and before you've turned the page she's done and ready for something new. Just some thoughts.....42373
Kennysmom, that's really interesting to know- 1-2 minutes per year. I definitely shorten the sentences on some books. For example, with "The Little Engine That Could" it's the pictures that are more exciting to her. So to keep up the pace and her attention, I only read one or two sentences per page. We've only made it through the entire book once! 42374
I can think of four ways to keep reading fun: 1. Choose (or let older kids choose) books that interest them, whether fiction or nonfiction. 2. Let kids set the pace, which means sometimes you skip around, read the end first, or spend the entire session on one spread. 3. Let kids tell the stories they know well by "reading" the pictures. 4. Change it up. My son loves "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late" by Mo Willems. Sometimes when I read it I make up variations, such as "Don't Let the Pigeon Eat a Pickle"--then every page gets some new kooky variation. That cracks him up because each page is a new surprise. 42375
My name is Ruth Nathan. I work at Berkeley as a research specialist in the field of reading and writing and also blog for LeapFrog in a column they call "Reading with Ruth." I received my doctorate in reading about 30 years ago and have spent my life teaching elementary school while also teaching at universities (three years in schools, three years at the university level, for thirty years).
What interests me about the answers this important question has received so far is that this readership, with or without PhDs, seems to understand what parents, grandparents, and caregivers need to do such that learning to read is always a joyful enterprise. For example, one of your readers wrote: "The foundation for a love of reading occurs before age 5 -- teachers can only build on the foundation a parent lays. If you want your kid to read -- then provide opportunities to read to your kid." Among other ways to insure reading delight, this answer is target-on. Children learn to talk because it's a joyful thing to do. Same with walking. When we read to our children often, they develop a true desire to learn to read themselves. Crucial, because the task is not easy for many.
Another reader mentioned that when reading to children, you might have to alter the text at times. The suggestion to read just a line from page, rather than the whole page, suggests the one reading understands the attention span of the child and uses this knowledge to modify the story just a bit. This reader also knows that eventually the same child will love hearing the whole story, too! It's a matter of time. Perfect idea.
In addition to what's already been written, I would encourage all caregivers to encourage writing. Children will use the sounds in words they recognize and the letters they "think" go with those sounds to write messages, little stories, even just a picture label. This helps children understand that they can say anything in writing, just like real authors, with just 26 letters. When young, caregivers shouldn't be concerned about the use of temporary spelling, though building a file of words correctly spelled that the child has written would be a great idea. (I've used index cards and a small file box.) That way, when the child writes the word again, he/she can look it up in the card file before, during, or after writing. Or, you can gently look the word up together and correct the spelling at some time. Kids benefit from learning, eventually, the book spelling of all words. There's a lot of research behind all of this.
For other ideas, I highly recommend the book, "Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success," written by the members of the National Research Council (ISBN: 0-309-06410-4). Also, for other ideas, check out my LeapFrog blog, "Reading with Ruth."42376
My daughter is 5 years old and loves books. We read to her nearly every day. I believe her love for books came from having us provide her with a variety of reading material. We have always made sure she had new books to read or new reading material from the library. When we travel, instead of purchasing a souvenier, we purchase a children's book. It has been rewarding for our family because books engage the whole family and our daughter can comprehend stories very well. You can find reasonably priced books at half.com , and at the Half Price Books store. We also have a membership at Barnes & Noble, so we receive a discount with every purchase.42377
I make reading fun for my children by trying to get in the mood of the story by changing the sound of my voice. I have a child in Kindergarten and third grade so they love listening. As a parent I do this to make them stay focus and by making fun to them. I also make my third grader read to us and I also tell them to imagine themselves in the story.42378
My 3-yr old absolutely loves reading and our bedtime ritual involves reading. But we make reading fun by: - Letting her choose the book we read that day (sometimes it means we read the same book for a week but by then end of the week, she knows the story so well, she is 'reading' along and reciting words and loving every minute) - We will often change voice tones to match the story or get into character - We will also act out the entire story. One of my daughter's favorite books is "Silly Sally" by A. Wood. It involves tickling and she's laughing the whole way through.42379
My husband and I make reading an integral part of our homelife. We're both avid readers. It's important for our children to see that reading can be fun and enjoyable. It's also important for our children to see their parents reading so that we set a good example for them to follow. One way in particular that we make reading fun is to have mini book clubs with our kids. For instance, last year my daughter needed to choose a book for school to do a book report on. She went to her dad for some help in choosing one. He recommended one of his childhood favorites, "My Side of the Mountain." Since I had never read that book, I told her that I would read it with her! She read it before she went to bed, and then I would "borrow" it and read it before I went to bed. This is a great way to open up book discussions and increase communication with your kids, too.
Currently I am reading the Narnia series which I am reading with my son. When that is complete, he has informed me that he would like to read the Dragon Keeper series with me.
I think the most important way to make reading FUN is to not make it seem like a chore. If parents are excited to read and show their excitement for reading, their children will see that there is more to reading than just reading the words.42380
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