Let’s face it, getting our kids to do things they don’t want to do is tiresome. It can end up in a handful of ways: tears, arguments, or yelling. We often just throw our hands up and admit defeat. Although this can happen with just about any academic subject, we see it frequently with reading and refusing to pick up books. Kids would rather play on their phone or watch TV than grab a novel and settle down to read.
If this sounds like your household, don’t worry, because you’re not alone. But before you hand back the iPad or tablet, read these five questions from parents about kids being reluctant to read and advice on how to tackle the issue.
How do I get my child to read on a nightly basis?
This is perhaps the question on every parent’s mind, especially given that 20-30 minutes of reading each night is often required for elementary school kids.
Avoid frustration and resentment towards reading and don’t make it part of the homework time. This only adds to the homework burden.
Instead, make reading a part of the evening routine. Schedule it after dinner and before bed, when your child is winding down for the night. When kids can equate reading to relaxation, it makes it all that easier.
Be careful to avoid saying, “Okay, it’s time to get ready for bed, go up in your room and read,” because it may not go well. Reluctant readers often have a hard time getting started independently. Instead, consider paired reading – you read a page, your child reads a page, or for a very reluctant reader – you read two pages, he reads one page. This actually takes two thirds of the burden of reading away from your child, and often when things seem easier to kids, they’re more likely to do it.
When we read together, how much should I correct?
As you read with your child, you may find that it’s your natural tendency to correct her mistakes, but this creates frustration.
If she skips over a word, or replaces a small word that doesn’t affect the meaning, leave it alone. Don’t correct her. However, if she replaces a word like, “grill” for “girl”, and it impacts the entire meaning of the sentence, you should probably draw attention to that.
But, before you shout, “That’s wrong!”, correct them sparingly. Your goal as a parent is just simply to be there to read with your child, not to make corrections. When kids are corrected too much they feel judged, and that’s when they avoid certain tasks like reading.
How can I get my kid to read independently?
Research shows when kids listen to an audio book and read along in the book at the same time, their reading skills soar.
What does this mean? Get your child an audio version of the book they’re reading and have him follow along in the book while he listens. It doesn’t mean that your child’s just staring off into space and listening halfheartedly.
If your child’s listening and following along, studies show that their reading fluency and comprehension improves so much faster than if they read independently. This can happen when kids pick books that are a little out of their reading level. Kids don’t get enjoyment from the book because it’s too difficult for them! A simple solution is having them follow along to an audio version. They’ll benefit from both listening to fluent reading and meaning, thereby improving their own fluency and comprehension.
My son will only read graphic novels. How can I get him to move to another book? Do I force him to read something that has more content?
I get this question a lot from moms of boys. The answer is no. Kids will gravitate to other books on their own time. In fact, when teachers assign books for reading, they’re not usually assigning graphic novels. Instead, they’re assigning books that probably don’t have too many pictures. If we remember that reading should equate with relaxation, allow your child to continue reading graphic novels. At least he’s reading and finding pleasure from it.
Sometimes parents will ask about E-Readers. Are they good, or are they bad? Is this some new-age technology we know nothing about?! Parents will often report that their kids had really good intentions about reading a book on their Kindle Fire, but when parents go check on them, four different internet browsers are open and the book is nowhere on the screen.
Do you take the Kindle away? Do you make them read it in front of you?
What I can tell you is this: while Kindle Fires seem like the cool gadget to be seen with, it also has internet access. And having internet access means the reading comes second. Kids just become too distracted and they can’t control their own impulses to go online. A Kindle Paper White could be a better option. The Paper White has very limited internet options, and your kid can only go on Wikipedia and Amazon to buy books. With the Paper White, there are a lot fewer distractions during reading time.
What about online versus print reading, is there a difference?
Surprisingly, there is a large difference between online and print reading. A study of high school students found that when kids read a novel online vs. in print, they actually had better comprehension when sequencing events when reading in print. Grasping the book in their hand made a huge difference over holding a square tablet.
When the book has lots of events, you are able to know “At this point in the book they were getting on a raft. That was about two thirds of the way through the book. I know that was kind of near the height of the story.” When you hold a book in your hand you have a sense of where you are in the book, where you are in the sequence of events. Although there’s not a huge difference in the impact of comprehension with online versus print reading, it does seem to be most effective when reading novels and sequencing events.
Remember, the most important thing you can do to help your child read is to encourage them and celebrate when they pick up a book! Hopefully, these questions help solve your child’s hesitancy to read, but if they haven’t, give us a call. A reading tutor may be what’s best for them.