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 some 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. In addition, e-books are readily – and immediately – available.
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.
A for audiobooks
You may think that as soon as your child learns to read on his own, he no longer needs to be read to. But sometimes children just want to relax and take it all in. So try audiobooks. Technically, they 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.
Recipe for success
For children who love to help out in the kitchen, recipes can be a fun way to practise reading skills. In addition to providing general practice, it reinforces other essential skills and helps build confidence.
As an added incentive, why not break the rules a little? Almost no child wants to go to bed on time, especially on weekends, so give yours the choice between going to sleep at the usual time and staying up later to read a book.
Ultimately, reading should be fun, interactive, and engaging (no matter the medium), and by thinking “outside the book”, your child may well find something that captures his imagination and sparks a lifelong love for reading.