In an earlier post from last week, I gave some ideas about how to deal with reluctant readers who were just learning to read. This week we’ll look at some ideas to motivate readers who can read well but don’t read on their own. Every child has interests. So much of what is offered in school has to do with what each child needs to know. There are also things kids would like to know; this is how you can hook a child. Everything counts: picture books, chapter books, the sports page, the comics, magazines, graphic novels even the back of a cereal box. Once a child finds out that reading can lead to finding out things they want to know, they will look for other things to read.
Another avenue to hook kids is audio books. Play them in the car or at home. Lots of kids have iPods, there are formats available for them too. I know several kids who were hooked on the Harry Potter books by listening to the audio versions (Jim Dale’s reading of all seven books is a special treat, he is a magnificent actor and has a unique voice for each of over 110 characters) of the books. For younger readers there are book apps for iPads, iPhones, iPods and Nooks. And , of course, a book may be more attractive if it is on a Nook or Kindle or any other electronic reader. You can even find picture and chapter books to read for free on your computer at www.wegivebooks.org.
Book Clubs can also motivate kids to read. My oldest child had a fire lit under him in the fourth grade by Book Club Fridays. His teacher (thank you Mrs. Deer) had her class sit in a circle and talk about the books they were reading. Every Friday, he came home excited about a book or books that he had heard about in book club. It gave him a huge list of books to read that kept him busy for months. I visited a Book Club last week for fourth and fifth graders that I will write about next.
Most kids would find this a controversial recommendation: limit screen time. That used to mean television but now it also means various game systems that can include some of the aforementioned Nooks, iPads, iPhones and iPods as well as Nintendos, Game Boys and X-Boxes. Some parents allow the same number of minutes in front of a screen as the child spends reading. As the Oompa-Loompas sang in the Mike Teavee song in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
“What used the darling ones to do?
How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY…USED…TO…READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ and then proceed to READ some more.”
In future posts we will look at book clubs, reading apps, e-books, non'-fiction books, magazines for children and graphic novels.