Students around the country will be starting their school year virtually. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how distance learning is going to look this fall. One thing is for sure: reading instruction and independent reading will be a focus for all learners.
It may seem daunting to get your child to read on their own, especially after a day of battling through online learning. But there are a lot of ways families can encourage kids to read. Try some of these strategies to make reading fun for your child:
Let them read whatever they want
The best way to encourage reading is to let your child read whatever books they like. If they want to read an old favorite that’s “too easy” for them, let them. When they reread the same few books over and over, don’t say a word. And don’t forget: graphic novels count as reading!
By allowing free choice when it comes to independent reading, you’re giving your child a chance to explore genres, formats, and authors on their own. It’s also a way for them to build their confidence. A reluctant reader needs to be comfortable before they try something new. So if they want to read the same Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, again and again, that’s ok.
Expose them to new books
Families can guide their children toward new books they might otherwise not know about. Sometimes the hardest part about trying a new book is finding the right one! It’s much easier to stick with your favorites if you know they won’t let you down. A new book is a risk. What if it’s boring? What if it’s too difficult?
Mitigate that risk with some research. Start with your local librarian. Librarians are experts at finding books their patrons will love. Gather up the titles of your child’s most beloved books and ask your librarian for recommendations based on them. Another great way to mix new books into your child’s reading routine is a book subscription. My Bookworm Box offers personalized book recommendations and then ships the selections right to your door.
Try utilizing video to get your child excited about reading new books. Many publishers, like Scholastic, create book trailers for new releases. They’re a great way to learn if a new book sounds interesting. There are also amazing kids on YouTube reviewing books, like the Book Brothers. Here are some other great book review playlists, all featuring kids:
Reading together shouldn’t stop once children are reading independently. Research shows kids obtain information best through listening until around middle school. Continue to read with your child up to high school.
Reading together is a great way to expose your child to books that are a bit more challenging than their independent reading level. A kindergartner might enjoy listening to a chapter book long before they can read one on their own. Classics are a great option for reading aloud because you can help your child understand the context and any old vocabulary.
Another idea is to read books that tackle tough or confusing subjects, such as racism, poverty, grief, bullying, gender identity, mental health, and disabilities. Having an adult guide them through these subjects through reading and discussion can help children process. It also allows adults an opportunity to answer questions and clear up any misunderstandings.
Audiobooks are an amazing tool to encourage reading. They allow reading to happen anywhere, like the car or a waiting room. Some books are better in audio, like books written in verse. Audiobooks may also be a good tool for struggling or reluctant readers. They can listen to the book before reading it with their eyes, or follow along with a physical copy.
Many public libraries offer digital audiobooks available for download. Some have devices called Playaway, which are small audio players with the book prerecorded. Just plug in some headphones and go!
Readalongs are a great option as well. You can find books with audio players embedded in them, so the child can listen and follow along. There are also many apps that allow children to follow along with the story.
How do you encourage your child to read?