Evan has started reading!
Now, I don’t mean that he’s started sounding out words and “reading” in that sense. He learned to read a couple of years ago. I mean READING. As in, sitting down with a good book and really enjoying it for a good long time.
He was doing well with actually decoding words and reading fluently, but he hadn’t started to truly love reading yet. He wouldn’t pick up a book on his own and get lost in it. Recently, I thought that it was probably time to encourage him to move on to the next level of reading- chapter books.
He had already been reading little kid chapter books like “Magic Tree House” and “Puppy Place,” but I had a hunch that he would be more motivated to read if he had the confidence to dive into more interesting stories. I pulled out one of my favorite first “real” chapter books- The Boxcar Children. He started reading it aloud to me, but pretty soon, a chapter a day wasn’t enough for him. He begged to be able to read more in his free time. Hmmm, let me think about that- sure!
He came and told me, “I like reading now!”
Sigh. It’s a wonderful thing to see a child transported to another world by a good book.
I think most parents have a desire to see their children love reading. Many studies have been done that demonstrate the benefits of reading. And, of course, reading children are quiet children! (Except for the giggling caused by some especially clever stories.) So how do we raise readers- not just children who can read, but children who really want to read? Well, every child is different, but there are a few things that can help nudge them in the right direction.
- Teach them to read well. I can’t imagine that anyone who has trouble reading, or reads especially slowly would enjoy reading. No one wants to limp through word after word. It’s my personal experience that some of the kids who “don’t like to read” actually are poor or slow readers, or that they have trouble remembering and comprehending what they read.
I actually remediated Evan about a year ago. We had been going through a snazzy reading program when I realized that he was stuttering and reversing letters. I put the brakes on everything and we went back to basics. We pulled out Phonics Pathways (my favorite learn-to-read book) and just went through that for a couple of months. The reversals stopped and he began to read smoothly. When it comes to reading, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t be afraid to go back or stop completely and pick it up later. There are also computer programs that help with reading fluency. I’ve never tried one of them with my children, but if I suspected one of my older ones was struggling, I certainly would. Timberdoodle has good recommendations.
- Read to them. A lot. A whole lot. Start with board books and move on to chapter books and classics. Read books that everyone can enjoy. Listen to audio books together. This is actually worthy of a post all of its own. Look for that soon.
- Turn everything else off: TV, Wii, Ipod, computer, DS, and so on. Bored children pick up books out of sheer desperation. In our family, the daily quiet time is a great reading encourager. There’s nothing else to do for that hour unless you want to sleep. Technology with its beeping, flashing, many-images-per-second hypnotic characteristics can squelch any desire to read.
- Be a reader yourself. Kids learn by example, for better or for worse. If your time is spent in front of the TV or with Facebook, your kids probably won’t turn into super readers.
Raising readers is worthy goal. God communicated to His people through the written Word. How much we read and what we read has a powerful influence in our lives. Let’s introduce our children to the splendors of the world of books.