Parent-proven tips to get kids reading
Try these ideas from GreatSchools parents to get your child excited about reading.
More ideas from readers
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."
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 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."
Try incentives: "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."
- "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."
- "I love the book, The Last Badge, by George McClements. It was the recent 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. ... It is also a great picture book so a younger child will enjoy it too."
By GreatSchools Staff
Thanks to our Parent Advisor newsletter readers who shared their tips for inspiring children to read. Some readers suggested favorite books and others described reading games. Read on to learn creative ways to encourage your own children to read.
Take turns reading aloud with your child
One reader from Ohio notes the only way she can get her 12-year-old daughter to finish a book is by taking turns reading with her. After she reads a chapter, they discuss it, and then they switch roles for the following chapter. Another reader suggests that by reading aloud together the parent is able to determine the child's level of comprehension. And several of you wrote about the added benefit of sharing quality time with your kids by reading together.
Offer an incentive program
A parent in Alabama allows her children to stay up an extra 30 minutes past bedtime, provided their time is spent reading. TV is the reward incentive for an Illinois parent who offers her son one minute of television for every one minute he spends reading. Once her son begins reading, he ends up not wanting to watch TV, or he saves minutes when he knows friends are coming over so he can watch a movie. Another family in Ohio keeps track of the minutes spent reading and then every couple of weeks the family chooses a "free activity" for what they call a "double reward" day. During this special day they might picnic at a water-splash park, go bike riding and go out to lunch or go fishing.
Create your own "library days"
One family in North Carolina spends two days a week reading and writing book reports during what they term their "library days." The family determines a reading list and the children write book reports on the books they have completed.
Read on the go
Play a word game in the car. Each person takes a turn reading as many words as he can from street signs, billboards, store names, garage sale signs, etc. The player reads the words aloud as quickly as he can. It's a fun exercise and even though it's not a book, it gets kids reading.
Although many educators worry that children who spend time at the computer aren't reading books, some of our readers argue that the computer has vastly increased opportunities to read. Not only does the Internet provide a deluge of material, but video games, multimedia software and even instant messaging provide virtually non-stop reading opportunities.
A reader in Texas writes, "Video games can be something a parent can love." She suggests buying video game guides to your child's favorite game and subscribing to video game tips magazines to encourage reading.
Two parents suggested reading software programs that help struggling readers by utilizing text-to-speech software so the reader can hear what she is reading. Texthelp and Read Please offer software programs that can be useful tools for helping new readers.
A nonprofit program entitled Adopt An Author offers reading and writing curriculum for teachers that is designed for teenagers. Best-selling thrillers along with author appearances in classrooms, interactive Web sites and classroom phone calls from authors are some of the ways this group inspires teens to read.
Importance of the book series
We heard from many of you how important the introduction of a book series was to fostering your own child's interest in reading. For many new readers, discovering books that pique their interest can be the beginning of a lifelong interest in reading. Here are a few titles that were mentioned as some of your children's favorites:
Osbourne, Mary Pope. The Magic Tree House series. Random House, 2001
Park, Barbara. Junie B. Jones series. Random House, 2002
Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House series. Harper Trophy, 1994
Wrede, Patricia. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Magic Carpet Books, 2003
These titles were also recommended by a parent whose 9-year-old enjoys the ridiculous:
Pilkey, Dav. The New Captain Underpants Collection. Blue Sky Press, 2002
Yaccarino, Dan. The Lima Bean Monster.Walker Books, 2001
Kotzwinkle, William. Walter the Farting Dog.North Atlantic Books, 2001
Set a good example
We were also reminded by some of you that it's important for parents to be readers. The impact that your own behavior can have on your children can't be underestimated. "Talk about what you are reading with your children. Share what you find most interesting and explain why. Ask your kids to share the parts they like with you from whatever they are reading. And talk about what you are reading with each other," offers a mom in California.
It's never too late...
And finally, a young reader confirms that reading, even during the summer is actually a good thing:
"I'm a 13-year-old girl and every summer, I would never touch a book because, hey! It's the summer! But this article has encouraged me to read more. Now, I'm into Stephen King's books! In fact, I've even read my big sister's books too. One of them is October Sky. I finished it within three days."