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Bright Ideas from our Readers: Getting Kids to Read

Our readers give tips that work to inspire kids to read.

By GreatSchools Staff

Thanks to the many readers who told us what their families do to encourage their children to read during the summer. 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."

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."

Summer Reading Goals and Rewards

"When my son was in the 4th 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."

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

03/20/2009:
"We would totally fall into whatever the child wanted to read. My older son, never much of a fiction reader, was about 11 when Jurassic Park came out. I read that book to him in 4 days and he was thrilled. My 5th child wanted to read Sideways Stories from Wayside School, which her older siblings were reading and re-reading. It took two weeks, but that was the first book she ever read. At the beginning, she only could read about a dozen words, but learned as she went along and by the end of that book, was an excellent reader."
10/17/2007:
"My daughter started first grade this year after doing Kindergarden w/a Montessori school where she had many children around her in the 2 and 3-year range. As a result, she remained very interested in the joys of pre-school activities. The other night we found the lyrics of some of the songs they used to sing in school. She was very taken with the lyrics because she remembered the words and the melody at the same time. This was a nice way for her to 'read'--with a singing voice. "
09/5/2006:
"My daughter is in the first grade and one thing that really is helping her with reading was role-playing. She really loves the Frog and Toad series. After reading through a chapter, she picks the character she wants to be and then I choose one. We play act the story out...and make up new ones. She loves it when I make up different voices for the characters and act silly. "
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