March is all about reading but in all honesty, encouraging a love of reading is something that should be done each and every day. Special days such as World Read Aloud Day (March 6), National Grammar Day (March 4), Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 2) and the National Education Association designation of March 1 as Read Across America Day help highlight this skill that needs to be fostered in our children so they become lifelong readers.
As a former classroom teacher, there is no shortage of books in our home and as a parent, I love curling up on the couch with my kids and a stack of books to read a great story together. But honestly, sometimes I get stuck. It can be a constant challenge to find the books that are just right for my kids and feature captivating content that transports them to other places while holding their interest and challenging them in ways to further develop their reading skills.
- Your child’s teacher. The person who spends hours with your child each day knows their interests pretty well. They’ll be able to provide great suggestions about books that will be a perfect fit of challenging and interesting.
- Your local librarian. We may spend a lot of time downloading books to read on digital devices but a face to face conversation with the librarian at your nearby library always yields a treasure trove of information.
- Facebook. Crowdsource your friends and fellow parents. Ask them what books their kids love and chances are you’ll get some great suggestions.
- Scholastic Parents has suggestions on series for new readers (like Frog and Toad or Henry and Mudge), books for reluctant readers especially struggling boy readers whose skills tend to be a little slower to develop than girls (I speak from experience with my own 2!), classic chapter books, and favorite books to reread.
How do you encourage a reluctant reader?
As a former first grade teacher and a parent of two, I know that not every kid loves to read. Our daughter was an early reader who devours books, with bookmarks stuck in many titles at any given time. Our 6 year old has taken off with reading this year. An emergent reader at the beginning of first grade, it’s been fun to see his skills progress along with his confidence. How have we helped our reluctant reader embrace reading like his sister?
Capitalize on favorite titles and authors. For our son, Dav Pilkey’s Super Diaper Baby and Captain Underpants books read aloud at bedtime were our hooks. Yes, there’s potty humor that I don’t exactly love but hearing him laugh about the ridiculous plot and having him ask to read those books over and over again before he could read them independently made me realize how important they were to him. Just as your toddler or preschooler may ask you to read the same book over and over again, do the same thing for your reluctant reader.
Gentle, but constant, encouragement. Since encouraging independent reading is important and Captain Computer is a sucker for incentive charts, I made a simple grid using the Tables feature in Microsoft Word that he adds a smiley face to when he reads a book on his own. If you want something fancier, here’s a colorful chart with a bookworm and arrows to color in for each book read. If your child prefers to note pages read, here’s another chart where they can record book title and pages read.
Motivate through eBooks. Research published in Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report stated that half of children ages 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to eBooks. Additionally, One in four boys who have read eBooks said he now reads more books for fun. Some great sources of eBooks include:
- Scholastic’s Storia— Perfect for families with readers of different ages because Storia allows parents to create bookshelves with age appropriate reading material. With a wealth of eBooks, Storia ensures that content will be just right for each reader in your house and features many of Scholastic’s most popular titles.
- Ruckus Reader— This innovative learning program for the iPad that features digital fiction and nonfiction books that provide parents with personalized feedback on their child’s reading experience. Video components accompany nonfiction text to provide visual explanations of the things that kids are reading about.
- Interactive eBooks apps from publishers such as Auryn and PicPocket Books that provide affordable titles for all ages with gorgeous illustration, interactive pages, text that is highlighted as it is read, and titles in foreign languages.
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