Reading is essential to a child’s future, both giving them practice as well as opening their intellectual horizons and academic potential. Most parents and teachers know that the key to their child’s future is rooted in successful reading habits, but many still struggle with motivating students to read, especially boys and children with learning challenges.
As seen in research an essential element to encouraging children to embrace reading revolves around independence; the ability for the reader to choose for himself, what to read and when and where to read it. If a child or young adult can exercise their autonomy in these areas, they will be more likely to read, and have a successful reading experience, which builds self-confidence, creating a virtuous circle that develops a lifelong habit of reading for knowledge and pleasure.
There are many ways to encourage reading and give them the necessary independence and self –confidence, whether setting a good example, putting time aside for reading or supplying the right technology tools to enhance a reader’s independence.
Here are a few key strategies to encourage and motivate reluctant readers:
- Provide reading material that will interest the child. If it’s fiction, make sure the child can relate to the characters and story, and don’t be too fussy about the subject matter. If it’s potty jokes, but the child gets a kick out of reading it, then swallow your literary aspirations and let them read it. And don’t get stuck on ‘traditional’ literature. Use non-fiction, books about the child’s hobby, magazines, even comic books. Reading is reading after all.
- Set a good example and read yourself. Have books around the house and go to the library regularly.
- Read to your child. Reading to children is an important moment for bonding, and can also help a child that struggles with reading. Even older children say they enjoy being read to, and studies show they continue to benefit from it. Strive to make these moments fun and memorable. Bring the book to life. Don’t be afraid to use funny voices, cackle at the jokes, even make sound effects.
- When reading to your children, take the time to explain words and ideas, the plot of the story, discuss the characters and what you think will happen next. If you don’t know a word, use the opportunity to explain how you deal with not knowing a word by inferring and then check the dictionary with the child to show them that even adults sometimes need tools.
- Talk about books and discuss reading. You can talk about the book you are reading together while riding in the car or cooking supper and discuss what is coming up in that evening’s reading. Or discuss your own personal book and why you like it (or don’t) or about an upcoming read.
- Set aside designated reading time, whether 30 minutes in the afternoon at the weekend or 15 minutes before bed each night.
- Provide regular moments for your child to choose reading material, whether at a library, bookshop or on-line bookshop. Listen to your child and follow their lead, letting them choose and don’t judge. If they decide that they don’t like the book they have started to read, then let them put it down and start another one.
- Help your child choose books of their reading level. Have then read a page in the book and count the words they don’t know. 3-5 words means they will need to be a highly motivated reader to enjoy the book, but 0-2 words will be a pleasure. 5 words or more is probably too difficult and will only frustrate them.
- Try getting your child hooked on a series. Let them read the first book in different series to find the ones they enjoy and then encourage them to continue. As they already know the characters and style it will be easier for them to continue the series and you can use the next installment as a reward for reading.
- Educational and assistive technology are excellent resources to motivate reluctant readers. Tools such as ReadSpeaker TextAid a reading and writing solution with read aloud technology are highly effective, allowing children to read when and where they want. With just one click of a button, this tool uses read aloud technology to read any text to the individual, while following along with the highlighted text. Watch this short video to see how it works.
Since the reader can choose any text and then have it read to them out loud as they read along with the highlighted text, they are given confidence boosting autonomy to read whatever, whenever and wherever they want; whether reading a free ebook from Project Gutenberg on the bus, or a magazine article in their bedroom.
Try read aloud technology for yourself with a free trial of ReadSpeaker TextAid, the reading and writing support tool for individuals.
While it takes an amount of extra effort, the payoffs of cultivating a love of reading in a reluctant reader is invaluable. For more inspiration there are lots of great resource and ideas online for beginning readers just learning to read, older children that need to practice or young adults who should be forming lifelong reading habits.