For most families, especially homeschooling families, encouraging a love for reading is priority #1. We all recognize that reading = learning. A love for reading will likely lead to a love of learning.
But not all children are natural readers. While you may have one one child who read voraciously, you may have one of more for whom reading is a chore. How do you encourage these children to read for the love it if they they believe they hate reading?
It can be a challenge. But I believe that given the right conditions, most children can be encouraged in to a love for books and reading. It may not happen overnight, but with some patience and persistence, even the most skeptical of children can come around.
5 Ways to Encourage a Love for Reading
Visit the Library as Often as You Can
Choose one day a week to be your dedicated library day. If your library allows for it, let them apply for their own library card. Begin by taking a field trip to your local public library to let your kids explore. Print off a library scavenger hunt that will lead them all over the library learning how and where to gather information about subjects that interest them. Teach the the process of checking out (and returning) books. Introduce yourself to the children’s librarian and find out if they can provide a tour. Most importantly, let your children choose books to check out. Limit the number if you must (no one wants late fees because it’s too hard to keep up with all the books), but let them choose the books. While you may have a list of books YOU wish for them to read, use your own library card to grab those.
Create a Book Basket
Now that you’ve been to the library, use a laundry basket or milk crate to create a book basket for each child. Fill the basket with their library books plus any other books of their choosing from your bookshelves at home — a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, picture and chapter books. Make a time each day for them to read from their own basket — 15 minutes for grades PreK-3, 30 minutes for grades 4-6, one hour for grades 7 and up. We call this time, BOB time (books on the bed) and use it as a replacement for nap time. Read to your children who are of a pre-reading age, but also give them books with lots of pictures to “read” for themselves during their BOB time.
Here are a few reading lists with recommendations for books if you would like a starting place to help your students in their selections:
And for those eReaders:
Read Aloud to Your Kids
Choose a chapter book to read to your children for an hour each day. Lunch time works well, as does bed time. Give younger kids something to do with their hands while you read (drawing, coloring, Lego). Kids are never too old for read aloud time. Read aloud even to your teens. My teen loves for me to read aloud to him. For help with choosing books for reading aloud, I love The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. If you have kids who enjoy read aloud time a little too much, take advantage of audio books and audio theatre. They are perfect to listen to at mealtimes, bedtime, or in the car.
Set the Example
One of the best things you can do to encourage a love for reading is let your children see you reading for pleasure every day. If you want to be really sneaky about it, read some books to yourself that they might enjoy, too. When they see you smile, laugh, or hear you share a bit about the books you are reading, it may just entice them to read it, too.
Play Literacy Games
Children love playing games, and often don’t even realize they are learning as they play. Many board games, such as Scrabble, Boggle, and Wordplay encourage reading, spelling and vocabulary. There are also many literacy apps available for iPad or FireHD that are both fun and educational (and often FREE!).
There may be other things you can do to encourage your children to read more. I’d love to hear your ideas, too.