Friday, February 24, 2012

How to get them reading part 3

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So in review of my previous posts, there are literally dozens of ways to stimulate or encourage a child to read.  For a quick reference if you missed them:
Part 1
Part 2
What's the big deal with reading?
But there is still more.  The list is truly endless if you allow a little creativity and perseverance.  The idea is also not necessarily to try every method but find ones that will work with your child.

1.  In the car
This may really only appeal to younger children, but I found that with my 8 year old, he loves reading signs.  So I ask him to help me find signs as we are driving, or I ask him what a signboard says.  He loves it and he never forgets what they say.  He has such a expression of satisfaction when he can read information along the road.  The only problem is that you have to remind your children that some of the names of companies on trucks and vehicles are actually misspellings but it gives you the opportunity to get them to tell you how it should be written.

Another variation(older children up to teens) is to buy 2nd hand travel books/ things to do in the area catalogues and as you drive through an area, get one of the children to read it to the rest of their siblings as they drive.  And if you can't find these, use your browser on your smart phone and Google it.  They love the technology and feel very authoritative when they read aloud and of course, it makes for a very interesting Geography lesson.

2.  Cooking
My children love to eat.  If they know there'll be something yummy to eat they are VERY motivated to read!  Yep, I TOTALLY believe in bribery and yummy motivations.  You can start with simple cooking and move on to cook books that run according to themes which normally provides you with lots of reading material.  Get them to research a recipe online.  (remember its not that they have to read huge quantities of materials but making reading a way of achieving a goal, having fun - or in this case - getting to eat!)

3. Magazines 

Choose good magazines that will interest them.  My children are Kid's National Geographic fans as well as Popular Mechanics.  But with their other interests like lifesaving, surfing, skateboarding, fishing, flying - I could buy a magazine on any one of these topics and guaranteed I would not see them for a couple of hours.  Don't worry if initially it looks like they are just paging through the magazine, when they find something of interest, they will want to read.  

And if you can't afford the magazines they like (because some of them can be incredibly expensive) there are other options:
*  Take them out at the library  and if they are the most current ones, they will not be available for loan so then let them sit and read, let it be a special privilege for them.
*  Keep looking on places like Gumtree, Craiglist, Freecycle - people are always giving away boxes of magazines for those interested or ask for them with an ad.
*  Browse through second hand stores

4.  Turn off the telly!!!!!
Research has shown that especially boys will choose telly if given a choice between telly and reading.  So don't give them the choice.  Just turn it off!  Our TV is in our lounge and even when its off, we can still see it luring and tempting us to put it on.  I truly think a TV cupboard with doors that you can close is really the best solution.  Our children have screen time on Fridays, but really they have no need to watch TV.  Don't let them convince you that they do.  In fact why not read them the book "The day my mom through out the telly" which is perfect for teaching them about wasted TV time.  Its a really funny story and really is worth the read.

5.  Reading apps for phones

I am a reluctant let-a-child-play-with-my-phone-sort-of-person.  Children do funny things with expensive equipment - I speak with experience and without going into too much detail - one of those included flushing a certain telephonic piece of equipment down the loo!  

However desperate times demand desperate measures.  You might not find the right type of reading app for your phone and again it could just be too jolly expensive.  But you can also download the software so that your phone runs like a Kindle and so you can read entire books on your phone.  Now what child doesn't just love that combination.

6.  Keep it brief
Don't push too hard, and keep reading times brief initially - they will eventually ask for more.
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7.  Audio Books
I know this does not mean that they are literally reading the written word, but through positive experiences reading starts to have a positive slant.  This is especially a good practise for older children who you feel may have had very negative experiences so far.  If you can just find the right audio book you might change their attitude to reading.  Imagine he likes Story 1 by Author 1.  You listen to it and then conveniently leave Story 2 by Author 1 lying around which has been taken out the library. 
Also Read Along Audio books are great for children to listen to and follow in their books because it gives them a sense of rhythm, timing, pronunciation and confidence to read aloud with the CD.
You can buy Audio books but there are a lot of free audio book sites too, so all you need to do is download it!  My children listen to these as they go to bed at night.  I copy it on a disk, put off the light and let them listen until they fall asleep. They will often rush off to bed so they can listen to the next installment, making bed times a breeze! We also listen to the audio books when we drive in the car which makes travelling so much more pleasant.

8.  Just serve up hors d'oeuvres not the main course
Read just enough to pique their interest in a book, to that moment where you have everyone sitting at the edge of their seats in anticipation .......... and then stop.  I can guarantee you that even the most reluctant reader will pick up the book after you and want to read further.

As you read through this posts, some of these methods may sound too easy but a lot of children struggle with confidence and so the more confident they are and the more you affirm them, the more they will want to read.  Don't assume that something won't work with your child "oh this won't work on him, he is so stubborn" or "he'll never listen".  I have often found that we often don't know what can trigger a change.  That our children will surprise us - that sometimes we need to have more hope and less cynicism.  Don't give up, they may not do things in the way we would - they might read in a different way, they might read different books to what we would - But isn't that exciting? - To find out more and more about these precious children!

If you have any further ideas or thoughts on how to stimulate reading in children - I would love to hear about it.  Why not leave a comment so that we can all learn from your experiences.

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