I have a confession to make…I haven’t always been the voracious reader that I am today. Though it may come shocking to some people that know me, as a child I came pretty close to hating reading. Yes, I know that hate is a strong word, but as a young person I probably would have told you that I at least “did not like reading..at all..period”. I did not find reading books enjoyable, and I for sure was afraid of reading out loud in class.
Many things contributed to my fear and distaste for reading in my childhood. In general I think I felt that I was not good at reading so I did not feel like trying. I also never was guided to books that I was interested in. It took me until my Junior and Senior year in high school before I discovered that reading wasn’t that bad..that reading was actually THE BEST. It took me having friends that guided me to books they thought I would enjoy, and me enjoying those books enough to work though the reading skills I was struggling with.
One of the reasons I became and educator was to make sure that this didn’t happen to as many children. When I think back to the years when I “did not like reading..at all…period” I tend to feel sad. Reading has become an oasis for me that I use to help relieve anxiety, as well as for entertainment and stimulation as a curious adult learner. Sometimes I think about how much more I could have enjoyed and learned if only I had started at an earlier age.
When children or adults tell me that they do not enjoy reading I have an automatic response. “Well you just haven’t found the right book yet!”. Usually the adults that I tell this to just stare at me. The kids usually get excited though 🙂
If your child does not show an interest in reading it is completely normal. The good news is there are things you can do alongside their teachers, tutors and mentors to help them become interested and aware of the joy and importance of reading. Please do not misunderstand, I have not performed any scientific research. I am not claiming that I am an expert or that I am an authority on this subject. These are simply methods that I have seen work with some children.
- Read Together
This may seem like a no brainer, but I know that it is also harder than it sounds. Everyone is busy, especially during the school year. Try to make time to pick out books with your child that they would like to read and read them together. This doesn’t have to be a bedtime routine, this can occur at any time during the day. You might even find it helpful to keep the book with you as you go about other daily routines so that you can find small times before sports practice or while waiting in lines to read with your child.
2. Let them see you read
Kids always want to be like their parents. They idolize you! Not only will they repeat what you say, they will also repeat what you do. If your child sees you reading on a daily basis they will also want to read. Keep some books, magazines or newspapers that you are reading laying around the house to remind you to read them in a place where your child can see.
3. Allow your child to abandon books
In America we have a mentality that quitting is bad. I have started to realize that this is not always the best mentality to have. Sometimes we just need to acknowledge when something isn’t working for us. One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy reading as a child was because if I wasn’t enjoying a book, I felt like I needed to slog through it anyways. Now however, I probably abandon a book per month. If your child has tried the book but cant “get in to it” or is not enjoying it, encourage them to put it down and make a different selection.
4. Find them answers to their questions
Kids can ask a LOT of questions. They are trying to find out everything about the world around them, and they can become curious about subjects that you would have never guessed they would even think of. When your child asks you a question, help them look for the answer in reference books or on the web. If you are worried about web searches, you can do your own quick search and then print articles to read with your child.
5. Make accessing books easy
Make sure that there is plenty of reading material around the house that your child can pick up. Books are expensive, and your child’s reading level changes quickly sometimes, I know. If you have a public library close by, see if you can make a routine of going with your child to pick new books ever couple of weeks. This helps you keep new and interesting books around without breaking the bank. If you do not have a public library close by, see if you can set up to exchange books with other families in your area every couple of weeks. Having lots of reading material around will increase the chances your child will get hooked on the perfect book!
Try one of these methods next week and see what it does to your child’s view on reading. Always remember to keep reading a fun and relaxed experience whenever possible.