In education circles, Marva Collins is a living legend. So much so that her story — about founding the Westside Preparatory School in Chicago — became a made-for-television movie starring Cicely Tyson. Collins also authored 7 books, including Marva Collins’ Way, in which she shared her educational method that helped turn struggling inner-city students into academic superstars, many of them Ivy League graduates. Here, Collins talks about how she inspired kids to read:

“I had a little girl tell me once, ‘I can’t learn to read’ and she ended up graduating summa cum laude from the University of Kentucky. How did I do it? I gave the kids in my school confidence. I told them, ‘You are so bright. If I touch your head, do you think I’ll be as bright?’ I told them, ‘Everybody is a star’ and they believed it. I told them, ‘You have a mind, you have a brain, and you can do anything anyone else can do.’ There’s no pride like a little 4-year-old who can read.”

Here’s how 4 other parenting experts say to respond…


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Melissa Taylor
Don’t despair, says Book Love author Melissa Taylor. Instead, try these three secrets to get your reluctant reader hooked on books. Format: Video (1:58)

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Bruce Feiler
The bestselling author of The Secret of Happy Families did his research and discovered the best way to respond. Format: Video (1:39)

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Carol Dweck
Read between the lines, says Stanford psychologist and Mindset author Carol Dweck. Why? Because kids mean something very different when they object to reading. Format: Video (1:06)

Jane Bluestein
Don’t force it, advises education consultant Jane Bluestein. If a child resists reading, there are plenty of ways to lure him in. Format: Article