Guppy wasn’t always such an avid reader. She used to HATE reading! At one point, my own mama (Affectionately dubbed “Rachel’s Mom” by Guppy…as in “Rachel, Guess what I did at Rachel’s Mom’s house this weekend!”) told me “You need to get her to love reading as much as you did.” When I asked her how she fostered that love of reading in me she said “I don’t know. Just read to her, I guess.”
Long story short “Just read to her” did not work all by itself. But here are some ideas that did for your own reluctant readers.
- Yes, Read to them
Have a time (Most parents pick bedtime, BUT Naptime, after Lunch, Before TV etc, ALL work) where you ALWAYS read to them. Not only does this help you bond with your kids, but it gives them something to look forward to. They know that every day at X time, they’ll have story time with you. (Have both parents pick different times if possible. Double storytime!) Soon, they’re looking forward to storytime, and they’ll pick out what book they want you to read. Then, they’ll start associating that joy and excitement with reading.
- Start By Reading What They Want
You may want to read them “Goodnight Moon” or “Peter Rabbit” but they may want “That’s Not My Puppy” for the 8th time. If it’s becoming excessive, get a special calendar for them. Once or Twice a week do “Parent Choice” days. Stay consistent, make your choices shorter, in case they genuinely DON’T want to hear that book. Soon, they’ll start branching out, but they have to be excited about their reading.
- Buy Books Based Off Of Their Interests
Do they love Frozen? Trucks? Sports? Buy books that match what they love to play. Soon they’ll start associating books with things they’re interested in, and that will make them interested in reading those books.
- Reward Reading
Did they finish a book by themselves? Buy them another. Have a sticker chart! Give them more tech time! Keep associating reading with things they love!
- Look For Non-Story Books
One of Guppy’s favorite books is Mal’s Spellbook, which is not set up like a storybook at all. It has pages and pages of “spells” (both from the Descendants Movie, and not featured), and it also has written commentary by the four main characters. She reads and re-reads this book over and over again. It’s still reading.
- Look For Short Story Books and Poetry Books
Compilations of poems and short stories are great for kids who don’t have the attention span for full books. Normal books and novels can sometimes be intimidating to readers, but when they have a collection of smaller items to read, they have a quicker “out” so there’s less of a commitment.
- Work Reading Into The Things They Love To Do
I wholly believe that one of the main things that made Guppy realize reading was fun was the Disney Sing Along Songs DVDs. Yes, she was watching movies, but the whole intention of the movie was to READ the lyrics of the songs. There was either a bouncing Mickey Head that hit each word as it was said, or the words/syllables got bigger when their time came. It was subtle, but also not easy to miss, and watching the videos was a fun way to unwind. Get them a Sing Along DVD (or watch some on Youtube or another streaming app), turn the captions on the TV, small things like this will keep them reading (even if they don’t fully realize it at the time) and will greatly improve their list of sight-words.
- Make Books Special
Guppy has pretty intense ADHD, so there’s many times when she (or we) just need a break. When she gets overly antsy, or wild, instead of telling her to “calm down” or putting her in her room for “Time Out” (if she’s broken rules due to that behavior) we tell her to “Read a Book <in a cool location>” We’ve told her to read in our room, or in the living room, or in the guest room. Get a special “reading chair” and make a small spot just for reading.
Also due to her ADHD, putting her in time out when she’s done something wrong is sometimes counter productive. So we’ll tell her to read a book on her bed. Even if she’s in trouble, she’s always allowed to read a book. This helps her focus her energy and calm down, and also makes reading a special “exempt from punishment” activity.
Those are my suggestions to foster a love of reading with your kids! Share your tips in the comments!