I always try to teach my kiddos a love for reading. It doesn’t matter to me what they’re reading. If they are sitting down with their eyes glued to a book, magazine, comic book, or whatever, my day is made. My heart is warmed. Reading was a big part of my childhood. The 7 year old I work with loves reading, but I’ve been finding it challenging to find books that will hold his interest enough to motivate him to pick up the book on his own. Last summer, we read Matilda (by Roald Dahl) together, alternating chapters, and he loved it. He also read aloud really fluently, so I knew his reading level was pretty high. About a month ago, I introduced him to “The Indian in the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks. To “bait” him, I read the first chapter aloud to him. He put the book down for a bit, then after about a week, he picked it back up and couldn’t put it back down! He’ll be on vacation this coming week, so last week he hurried to finish the book so that I’d have time to get the next book, “Return of the Indian,” from the library to take with him. “Indian in the Cupboard” has a reading level of 5.9, and he’s in 2nd grade. Now I have a better idea of what reading level I can look at for future books for him.
Want to get your early reading loving to read too? Here are some quick tips and tricks!
1) Don’t worry about what he/she is reading. There’s no such thing as “wasteful reading”. Go to the library and find a variety of types of books- picture books, chapter books, comic books, magazines, non-fiction, Ripley’s Believe or Not, etc. Then ask your kiddo what he/she enjoyed the most!
2) If you suspect that your child is intimidated by harder books, try chapter books with audio books! Following along with the words while someone else is reading them can be really beneficial when you’re helping a kid to improve their vocabulary and push them into a slightly higher reading level without any fear of failure. Just remember- if your child’s at a 1st grade reading level, look for something just a little higher, like 1.5 or 2. If there’s too many words that he/she can’t recognize, they’ll end up lost in the book and just listening. Listening isn’t horrible on its own- they’re still enjoying stories and using their imagination and listening skills, but the most benefit comes from seeing and hearing the words together.
3) Read together to get a better idea about what their reading strengths and weaknesses are. You read a page, they read a page is a good start, and alternating chapters can be good for stronger readers. This can be a fun experience for both of you, and highly beneficial. You get to see how well he reads, what his comprehension is like when he reads, and how he flows as a reader, and he gets to take a break and enjoy listening sometimes, which makes the book less intimidating. Bonus! You can model voice changes, pace changes, and expression- all the things that take a good story to a great one!
4) Peak your kid’s interest in a book by reading the first few pages or the first chapter of the book to him/her. Or you can talk about how much you enjoyed the book as a kid and give a brief, exciting synopsis of the book. You can also try reading positive reviews of the book.
5) Never “require” that any specific book be read. It’s ok to set aside 30 minutes a day as “quiet reading time” (less time for younger readers or readers who just can’t focus that long or don’t enjoy it), but don’t put any requirements on what is read. If he/she wants to read the instruction manual for the new toy they got, go with it! Seeing reading books as a chore will quickly snuff out their interest in them.