Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” We all want our children to become strong leaders, but what if you have a child who would rather eat Brussels sprouts than get anywhere near a book? If you’re like me and have a child who would rather eat green things than read, what do you do?
Reading is an essential part of life. It helps develop vocabulary, brain connections, concentration, imagination, language skills, writing skills and so much more. Children who excel in reading are on their way to excel in all academic subjects.
Some children have learning struggles that make it difficult for them to learn to read. My son struggles with dyslexia, and this has made reading a difficult chore for him. To him, reading was laborious, frustrating, and unrewarding. I found some great resources that helped my son with his challenges, but I wanted him to realize that reading wasn’t just a school assignment. I wanted him to see joy and adventure in reading. I wanted him to discover the amazing worlds within the pages of a book.
It took us some time, but after a few years of trial and error, I am thrilled to say that my son is an avid reader in spite of his learning struggles and dyslexia. Here are some of the ways I encouraged my son to find joy in reading.
Reading aloud removes the frustration your child may feel about books and allows him to enjoy the story. Reading to your child rather than making him read for himself may seem counter-productive, but it isn’t! As your child listens to you read, he is expanding his vocabulary, learning how to pronounce new words, learning grammar and sentence structure, and so much more. Reading aloud, even to older children, is very beneficial. In fact, I think we should read aloud to our kids for as long as they will let us!
Select Books of Interest
Books hold so much excitement and adventure! Find out what your child’s interests are and select books that excite him. My son loved the idea of being a detective, so I gave him lots of Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol. He loved them, and his reading took off without any prodding from me!
Use Picture Books
Picture books aren’t just for preschoolers. Many picture books are actually geared towards older children. My son is a visual learner, so the pictures really helped make reading more enjoyable for him.
Subscribe to Magazines
When my son was struggling with reading and had no desire to pick up a book, he did still pick up magazines. In particular, he enjoyed Clubhouse Jr. and High Five. Magazines encourage reading by making the activity easy and relaxing. The short articles, stories, and jokes put the fun in reading! Subscribing to a magazine lets your child look forward to a new reading adventure every month.
Select Books with Short Chapters
When your child is ready to start reading chapter books, it’s important to get books with short chapters, to avoid overwhelming him. Books like Sarah, Plain and Tall contain only about four pages per chapter. Even when we read a book with longer chapters, we would only read four to five pages in one sitting.
Choose an Appropriate Level
I learned that a child should know about 95% of the words in any material he is reading. If he knows less than 95% of the words, reading becomes too frustrating. Although I used readers that were at my son’s reading level for his school work, I gave him books that were under his reading level when he was reading on his own. This turned out to be a great decision! Since he was reading books that were easy to understand, he found reading to be fun and started reading on his own, for his own enjoyment.
Share the Load
If your child is struggling through his reading lesson, you may want to help him by sharing the load. I found that if I read sections of my son’s readers with him, he felt less burdened. My son and I would take turns reading pages or even paragraphs.
Summer reading programs have helped my son get excited about reading. Local libraries and other organizations offer great summer reading programs with some fun incentives. I have even come up with my own incentives, such as $5 gift cards, to help motivate my son to read.
These are a few ways that I have encouraged my son to love reading. I hope that you will find some of these suggestions beneficial for your children, as they learn the joy of reading. Maybe your children will become the next leaders through reading!
Leah is a wife, homeschooling mother to two, and part-time blogger who lives in the great southwest where the lizards crawl and the rattlesnakes slither. She manages to sneak away from beneath the dinner dishes and laundry piles to share new discoveries she’s made in her journey through life. You can find her writing at: Ponderings From My Heart and on Facebook.