Posted by: Sara Carbone on: February 24, 2012
Is it torture to get him to read? Does she speed through a required school book? Is reading “boring, stupid and hard?”
There are two types of reading these days for elementary school age kids: reading for school and reading for fun. Sometimes the two overlap, sometimes not. In any case, the goals are for your child to meet the requirements for school reading and maybe actually want to read on his own. You can help on both fronts.
1. Read with him whether or not it’s for school. If possible, make it a quiet one-on-one ritual. Cozy things up by creating a special spot in the house – complete with stuffed animals and pillows. Take turns reading out loud, either by paragraph, page or swapping off with dialogue. Read expressively or with a silly accent. If he absolutely refuses to read, read to him or to a sibling while he’s also in the room. Try the book on tape (long car trips are ideal). A benefit to reading with him is that you can get a real sense of whether or not he’s struggling with reading and what seems to trip him up. This gives you good data when working with teachers and other learning professionals.
2. Bring the book to life. Watch a movie version if it’s available. Create a journal together about the book as she reads in which you do mini-collages, write back and forth to each other or come up with adventures for the characters. Act out pieces of it or make a craft based on the plot or an interesting character. Check out the companion websites for book series, like Magic Tree House, and get on local library activity lists to attend their book read activities. Some libraries even align their activities with what is being read at the nearby schools. This isn’t to pile on a lot more time to a busy schedule; aim for maybe just 10 minutes or so some nights or on the weekend.
3. Create a special spot for reading. Doesn’t have to be elaborate – maybe just a child-sized bookshelf with lots of books around his interests. Add a cozy chair for two so you can sit together. Cut windows out of and decorate a refrigerator box or stick a small tent in a corner. Add books, pillows, a flashlight and some toys that relate to the books in it. For quiet concentration, put it in his room. If he does better in a more social atmosphere, pick a high-traffic room.
4. Keep reading materials in prominent places. Around the house leave books, magazines, graphic novels and comic books out where he can see them. Pick topics he likes. Horses, baseball, Pokémon, American Idol, whatever! A magazine article on Sponge Bob or a printed copy of an online review for the latest Lego video game. Stick an enticing story or website on your laptop when he goes to borrow it. For a child who is allergic to books, just reading something of his own volition is fantastic. And don’t give up. The book may rot on the table for weeks until he picks it up (probably when you’re not looking).
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