Teaching Kids To Love Reading.
I was the kid who got in trouble for hiding under my blanket with a flashlight and reading until a ridiculous hour. So I was shocked when our kiddos did not take to reading as enthusiastically as I did.
Our eight-year-old Zoe, for instance… I took her to our cool little neighborhood library to sign up for their summer reading program. She paused at the door, staring at me with a suspicious squint.
Zoe: “Why are we here?”
Me: “We’re signing up for the summer reading program! They have these great prizes, like-”
Zoe: “I was told there would be doughnuts.”
Me: “I will get you a doughnut after we sign up.”
Zoe: “How many doughnuts?”
Zoe: (patiently) “How many doughnuts do I get to eat per book?”
This is where my cunning culinary bribe fell through. I couldn’t feed this kid enough baked goods to get her through a single multi-chapter book. Plus, I would be the size of a planet by the end of summer because there’s no way I can hold out if she’s stuffing chocolate crullers down her throat.
Nothing was working until I changed my approach.
So, here’s what I’ve learned this summer: every child has their own way. It’s my job to find the path that gets each of my Littles enthusiastic about books. Here are some different thoughts on amazing books and how to invest your little people.
Teaching Kids To Love Reading
- What are they interested in? So, my 8-year-old Zoe is crazed about Minecraft. I immediately ordered 3-4 books about Minecraft on Amazon.com. I didn’t pay attention: the fonts in the books varied, they were oddly styled and hard to read. They just made her more frustrated. So we started with some of the “New World” instructions on her iPad. We read about diamond armor and the Ender Dragon. Then, we graduated into Minecraft technique posts. I read a paragraph, she read a paragraph. We were reading together… and yeah, now she’s into the Friendly Creeper Diaries.
- You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You: It’s actually the name of a book series, but it was an “Oh, duh!” moment for me. We always read together when Zoe was little, but now that she’s in second grade, I’d just intended to check off the books she’d read on her homework list. What is wrong with me? This is an age where she actually wants to hang with me. And it’s not even just her reading to me- it’s reading back and forth, asking questions about the story and laughing at silly things.
- Make It Fun: Once again, this one took me by surprise. What do you mean, reading isn’t fun? So we came up with some ideas. This summer, we’re reading in our trampoline tent dome (Editor’s note: you can find an easy DIY video for this epic little creation here.) We acted out all the dialogue in different accents. (Zoe is very proud of her Cockney accent.) We’ve listened to audiobooks together to get her excited, then re-read the book together. We’ve created her own books- writing out different stories with her clever illustrations. There are easy ready-made books here to use to create your own classics.
Here’s one of my favorite graphic novel kits. One of my favorite experiences with the twin’s 7th-grade class was creating their own graphic novels. It’s not particularly expensive and the fun of watching these kids collaborate and create together is one of my most tender memories. They created a super-hero with autism, who could move back and forth in time to solve crimes because, “For kids with autism,” said their classmate Jerry, “it’s hard for us to understand time anyway.”
What has worked with your kiddos? What made them finally want to learn to love reading? Share! Discuss! We all need new tips and tricks.