We all know why it is important for children to read, and that developing a love for reading from a young age has lifelong benefits. But many children regard reading as a chore, especially if they are forced to read things that they have no interest in.
So how do you get reluctant – or downright uninterested – children to read for pleasure? The key is to not only find something that appeals to them, but also to look beyond the traditional book.
Here are five alternative suggestions to encourage reading:
Turn to technology
Many kids are fascinated by technology, so why not use it to get them excited about reading? Reading books on a screen is just as valuable for your child as reading a traditional book, and books in electronic format have proved to be especially engaging for boys (and other reluctant readers). In addition, e-books are readily – and immediately – available.
Technically, audiobooks involve listening rather than reading skills, but when trying to encourage kids to read, it counts! Why? Because it builds vocabulary, it cements background knowledge, it supports comprehension and it helps children discover the magic of storytelling.
For children with reading problems, graphics make it easier to follow the action because, even if the text is difficult, the visuals offer support in comprehending the story. In addition, the text is broken down into shorter, more understandable segments. Comics contain the same story elements and literary devices as narrative stories, e.g. characters, conflict, themes and symbolism, so these elements are embedded. Most importantly, comics are fun!
Joke books can be a compelling way to engage reluctant readers. After all, who doesn’t enjoy having a laugh? Jokes can provide a subtle exercise in reading fluency and, because comedy is all about timing (you may have to explain this to your child), he’ll want to repeatedly read his favourite jokes aloud to perfect his delivery.
Recipe for success
If your child loves helping out in the kitchen, recipes can be a fun way to practise reading skills.
In addition to providing general practice, each format reinforces different, specific skills. Building literacy skills in this way will hopefully stimulate your child’s appetite for reading!
Ultimately, reading should be fun, interactive, and engaging – no matter the medium.