My son has always loved stories. We went to story time at the library, I read to him before bed each night, we attended puppet shows and plays, and I made up stories of his favorite video game characters coming to life, knocking on the door, and asking him to come play. On many a night, my son heard about his journeys with Mario and Bowser (who get along fine off-script, by the way / # headcanon ), and they’d all go bake a pizza together in Bowser’s castle.
It has been a struggle, though, getting my kid to read on his own. Sometimes he loses attention, and grows weary of sounding out so many words. So what can we do when kids are just not that into reading yet? Here are some things I’ve observed, and maybe they’ll help you and your child(ren), too.
1. One Page
This is where I say, “I’ll read the rest to you if you just read the first page, and that’s it!” As he reads, I help him if he needs it, but if he mispronounces a word, or stumbles, I just let him. The goal is to practice getting all the way through the first page. Correcting him disrupts the flow, so I just let him go. And once he’s finished, I say, “You did it!” And, “Aren’t you so proud of yourself?” He often says yes, and whether he answers yes or no, I tell him that I am proud of him. I also ask if there are any words he wants help with, and we work on those, if he’s up for it.
2. Partner Reading
Similar to the above, partner reading is just alternating pages. You read a page, I read a page, etc, until it’s done. They practice this at school, so I suggested we do it at home too, and it’s been really helpful.
3. Asking Questions
“Oh wow, what do you think will happen next?”
“Why did that character do that?”
“How do you think they feel about that?”
It creates a dialogue, an extra sense of intrigue and attachment to the story itself.
4. Text-filled RPG Video Games
Seriously! My son got so much practice reading through playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. He felt so motivated to play the game, that he eagerly read all the text in the game. It was great, and helped him learn to be patient when sounding out words, which we helped him with, too.
5. No Pressure
As a lifelong reader and writer, I’m sure you can imagine it feels torturous to just let him be, and move at his own pace. There is a part of me that wants to shove books at him and shout, “READ! Why don’t you see how great reading is?!”
But it is my great challenge in life to learn this lesson: what has always helped my kid bloom in his own time is: no pressure. It’s been true with sleeping, swimming, etc.
One recent afternoon he blew my mind when he came home from school (second grade), and told me, “Mommy, guess what? I started a chapter book. It’s called The Terrible Two!”
He told me it’s about Miles and Niles, two boys in their school in Yawnee Valley. “Miles is new to the school and he’s a prankster. But Niles is already at school, and he is a prankster, too!”
“Whoa! What do you think will happen?”
“I think Miles and Niles might actually become pranksters together, and maybe they are the terrible two!”
Every few days, he told me a new update, and what chapter he was on. One day he announced, “I finished it!” He’d read an entire chapter book at school! I could just cry, seriously. He did it! On his own!
“Are you so proud of yourself? I’m proud of you, too.”
And then came another piece of excellent news – there are three more books in the series!
He was the happiest kid to go to the store and purchase his very own copy (as he excitedly told several friends) of the second book in the series, The Terrible Two Get Worse.
My kid is actively reading now, and I am so happy for him! Thanks, Mac Barnett, Jory John, and Kevin Cornell, for this fun series!
To those of you out there with little ones, I hope this post helps you, especially if your kid is taking a little more time to fall in love with reading than you’d hoped. Often, they’ll find that one book that just stirs something inside, and then sure enough, you’ve got an avid reader on your hands!
Do you remember what book caused you to fall in love with reading? Or what book sparked that joy for your child? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments!
Happy reading, everyone!