Do you have a child that would rather play games, watch TV, or do anything other than read a book? Learn how to transform a reluctant reader into a child who canít get enough books to read!
Imagine being a former English teacher with a dyslexic child who doesn’t like to read. That was my situation years ago. Our son knew how to read but never wanted to do any reading that wasn’t required by his school work. After lamenting over this situation for months, I thought about the times when he was interested in a book and developed a few strategies that got him hooked on reading.
- Read to your child. Yes, I know you’ve heard this before, but reading to your child may interest him enough to read more on his own.
- Tease them with tidbits. My son and I had a deal – if I picked a book out for him to read, I would read him the first chapter of the book at bedtime. If he didn’t like the book at that point, I would take it back to the library. If not, then he would obviously read the book. Amazingly, I never had to take a book back to the library! Reading a small portion of the book can be just enough to tantalize your child’s curiosity to know what happens next.
- Use audio books to peak their interest. When we travelled, I had an unabridged version of a book in the tape or CD player. This is a great way to get your child interested in a certain author or genre of books. On one vacation, we listened to “The Hobbit.” After we got home from vacation, the rest of the books in the series were on our son’s bedside table for reading.
- Pick books in genres that your child has liked previously. I noticed quickly that my son liked books about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Once he started reading these books, I quickly went to the library and found other books about King Arthur written by different authors. Some children may become bored with reading books about the same character, but our son found it interesting how the different authors approached the Arthurian legends.
- If your child does get bored, simply try another genre similar to the one that he did enjoy. It was obvious that our son would read anything that had to do with knights and the medieval timeframe, so our book selection increased dramatically. Robin Hood stories also became a favorite. If your child likes mysteries, there is no end to the different mysteries out there!
- Pick books that come in series. This strategy works well when you are hesitant about switching genres. If you know that your child likes historical fiction, pick a series that involves several books. That way, you know you are safe getting more books from that series. Your child may also learn patience with this method as there may be times that he will have to wait to get the next book in the series as someone else may have it checked out, or the author might not have written it yet. If this is the case, make sure that you get on the wait list for the book or put it on a list to check out later.
- Let them choose their own books to read. This seems rather obvious, but many parents always choose their children’s books for them. Let your child pick out their own book at the library, screen it for suitability, and let them help the librarian check out the books. Kids take great pride in saying, “I picked it out myself.”
Most of the time, the second strategy alone worked for me, combined with a knowledge of my son's favorite genres. I was successful at turning my dyslexic, reluctant reader into a reader who would sneak-read books under the covers with his flashlight and is an avid reader to this day. With these strategies, you too can turn your reluctant reader into a rabid reader.