Monday, September 22, 2008

How Do I Make My Child Want to Read?

It’s September. Days at the beach and fun in the sun are long lost memories as school demands that your children turn their attention to projects, homework, and reading assignments. The daily agenda comes home and each day it says the same thing: Read. Depending on what grade your child is in, the amount of time may vary. For young readers it says, “Read for fifteen minutes.” For children in the intermediate grades the assignment might ask for twenty. And for children in middle school and beyond, the reading expectation far exceeds that, asking for minimally thirty minutes a day. For some children, this is the task that they embrace, but for others, it is a request to accomplish the impossible. It’s what causes parents to bargain and eventually, throw their hands up in frustration. When children scream, “I hate reading,” and “Reading is boring!” many parents give in to the temptation to let the nightly reading assignment slide. They think, “Oh, who’s going to know?” or “Why do it anyway?”

Increasing the amount of time that a child reads is an activity substantiated by research. There is strong evidence to support the relationship between the amount that a child reads and reading achievement. Studies have concluded that children who read the most, read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest. Children who read the most have larger vocabularies, read with expression and understanding, and have the best command of grammar. In short, the more children read, the more proficient they become. The more proficient they become, the greater the academic advantage.

So the question becomes, what can be done to make children want to read? Kim Yaris, Executive Director of Literacy Builders, recognizes motivation as one of the biggest obstacles parents and teachers face when it comes to reading improvement. She points out that one of the biggest reasons kids are reluctant to read is because some aspect of reading is hard. She says, “Struggle is the greatest deterrent to reading practice. Children need a great deal of guidance choosing materials that are right for them. Eighty percent of their reading should be relatively easy. ‘High-success reading’ builds confidence and makes children eager to practice more.”

Other simple steps that parents can take to help motivate children to want to read more include:
· Reading aloud to your child: Reading aloud acts as an advertisement for books. It sends the message that reading is pleasurable while at the same time exposes children to new authors, series, and genres.
· Accepting children’s reading interests: Adults often impose their judgment on children’s book choices. They will say things like, “that’s too easy,” or “I can’t believe you don’t like that.” Just as adults have different reading preferences, so too do children. Just as adults are more inclined to read something they are interested in, so too are children.
· Informing children of what’s available to them: Adults learn about books that they are interested in through conversations with friends and colleagues or book reviews. When parents hear or read about a good children’s book or author, they should share this information with their children. They should look to their children’s teachers and librarians to make suggestions that their child might be interested in.

So, it’s September. Back to the books doesn’t have to mean nightly struggles to motivate your child to read. When parents and teachers work together to eliminate “hard” from the reading equation, reading becomes an enjoyable experience for all children.

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1 comment:

Craig said...

This is great. Thanks for the information.