5 Ways to Inspire Your Reluctant Reader
Many argue about the innate desires of human beings. Spiritualists will say that we are born with the desire to understand our inner selves, while philanthropists claim that we are motivated by the desire to help others. The science-minded can draw up a list of five basic desires that have evolved over the course of millions of years, and psychologists will somehow connect them to Sigmund Freud. But no matter your background or profession, one thing can be agreed upon: humans are born with a desire to learn.
Unfortunately, as I’ve interacted with young children in both educational settings and at home, it’s clear that the desire to learn is being muddled by things like television, video games, social media, and all the other flashy, neon distractions that enter our lives every second of every day. And then we scratch our heads and wonder why there is such an influx of reluctant readers or “learning disabled” among school-aged children. You may even be dealing with this in your own home, growing more and more overwhelmed by your job as a parent to instill a love of learning in your child. You keep waiting for their love of reading to spark, just like it sparked in you when you were their age, but you’re starting to doubt it will ever happen.
I can’t claim to know the magic solution to this problem, but I can offer my ideas and insight. Perhaps just one idea is what you need to finally inspire your little one to love books the way you want them to.
5 Ways to Inspire Your Reluctant Reader
1.) Set two bedtimes. What kid doesn’t love staying up “past” their bedtime? Set one time that they must be in bed, and another (about a half-hour later) that their lights must be off. They can go to sleep at the first bedtime if they wish, but if they choose to stay up, they have to read. Nine times out of ten, they’re going to want to stay up a little later, even if it does mean they have to read.
2.) Read chapter books out loud. Maybe it doesn’t need to start with a love of books, but with a love of stories. My earliest memories of chapter books involve my mother sitting on the couch, reading aloud “Little House on the Prairie” while myself and my siblings sat on pillows at her feet. This instilled in me a love of the slow unfolding of a story that movies or TV shows couldn’t provide. Once your child forms a love of stories, their love of books will come naturally.
3.) Start with graphic novels or comic books. Whoever said that these aren’t “real books” is just plain wrong. Some children need a clear visual to help them stay engaged with their story, and that is perfectly ok. You can’t give your visual child a 12-chapter book without any pictures or graphics and expect them to be excited about it. Meet them in the middle. Graphic novels are still novels, and comic books are still books. If they find one they want to read, let them. They’ll graduate to “real books” when they are ready.
4. Have simultaneous reading hour. Set aside an hour for both you and your child to engage in quiet reading. Be together in the same space (somewhere comfortable and cozy; maybe outside on a blanket if the weather is nice), and simply read. They’ll love spending the time with you, while partaking in the same activity. Plus, you’ll be setting an example for them, which will be ingrained for the rest of their lives. Maybe you can plan something fun to do after your reading hour as a motivation, such as a special outing or treat.
5. E-books and Audiobooks. While some parents and teachers look down at these for being too “tech-induced”, e-books and audiobooks are simply a part of the future that we must accept. As your child grows, it is quite possible that these forms of reading will be the new norm, and while that seems scary to traditionalists, it is just something we must accept. Though having your child read a book from his iPad or Kindle may seem like you’re giving them more unnecessary “screen-time”, they will be engaging their minds in ways that no gaming app could. Yes, they are reading words from a screen, but the fact is that they’re reading, and that should be enough. Same thing goes for audiobooks. Just as some are visual learners, others are auditory learners. They retain information better when they hear it, which means that they are more likely to be engaged in a story if it is being read to them. We don’t need to fear the future, but we do need to embrace it and learn how to use future technologies to our advantage.
What ideas do you have about inspiring your reluctant reader? Let us know your tried and true methods in the comments!