It's back-to-school season, so teachers will be reminding parents to "Raise a reader." Easier said than done. What if your child can read very well, but just doesn't like reading?
Many kids go through phases in which they refuse to read. For parents who love books, this is especially difficult. Don't despair! It might help to try a different approach.
Over time, I developed some unusual strategies to get my kids to love reading. None of these tactics involved nagging, rewards, or keeping track of pages read. I decided those tactics ultimately don't instill a love of reading.
Here are 8 of my "outside the book" strategies that have worked well for my kids. I hope you will find them helpful for your kids as well.
8 Unusual Strategies to Get Your Child to Love Reading
Leave a mess of books and magazines around the house. If you can stomach a bit of mess, a disordered pile of books entices kids to browse sooner than a neat bookcase. I have piles all over my house. This is effortless for me.
Direct kids toward non-fiction. Does your child like cars? Cooking? Pick up some car magazines and cookbooks. We seldom think that materials with instructions and facts count as reading, but kids are often interested in books that fuel their hobbies. For kids who enjoy facts, "The Guinness Book of World Records" seems to be a hit. Non-fiction is ultimately a great avenue from which to explore a variety of topics and genres.
Watch book trailers for inspiration. Tantalizing plot teasers reveal just enough information to rouse interest in a book. Learn where to find them here.
Take kids on a library shopping-spree. Give each child a HUGE book bag to fill, and plenty of time to browse the aisles. Don't limit the amount of books, and try not to intervene with recommendations. Older kids could be dropped off to shop on their own, just like at the mall. Kids can charge everything to their own library cards—free. This is even better than the mall, right!? Giving kids independence around book selection works like a charm, and they can't wait to sample their "new" books at home.
Borrow audio books. Listening to a professional actor or narrator bring a story to life can be just the push kids need to pick up a book. You can also download them from audible, where prices vary.
Grab some joke books, comic books, and graphic novels. They all count as reading, and kids love them.
Read to older kids. Remember the pleasure of your parents reading to you? Even graduates to chapter books enjoy being read to now and again, and it could be just the nudge they need to read independently. You could start by reading a chapter book out loud until your child is hooked, and then encourage your child to finish on his own.
Share a book and a movie. You could read the same book as your child, and then together watch a movie based on that book. Comparing the book to the movie makes for great discussions, and develops critical thinking skills. I think the book-movie combination really packs a punch. Our favourite book-movie discussion was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
I hope these strategies get your school year off to a good start. Happy reading!