As a teacher and tutor for many years I came across a variety of students who had different attitudes to reading. I also came across parents with very differing approaches to getting their kids to read. One thing I realised early on was how powerful and important being able to enjoy books can be.
Don’t Push It
In my experience, if you force anyone to do anything, they will come to resent it. I was forced to play football at school, during lunchtimes and when I got home (as my neighbours always wanted to play it) and so I started to resent the sport.
Being forced to be a goalkeeper all the time made me dislike anything to do with football.
So being made to read and treating it like a punishment is generally off-putting. Also, having to suffer for not reading is a massive turn-off.
You have to teach reading using a tiptoe method. Step by step you shine a light on the reading experience and make it feel comfortable and fun.
– Read yourself regularly and where your child can see you absorbed in that activity. They will be fascinated by what is holding your attention and hopefully making you smile.
– Share a book with them. Learning to read starts with phonics but the love of reading comes from a shared experience. If you read to your child every evening, with expression and interaction, your audience will start to become interested.
– Don’t force a ‘type’ or genre of books onto them. Find some topics they like. Yes they may appreciate Roald Dahl but they may also crave stories about skiing or travelling or even prefer factual books about insects. Whatever they are drawn to, go with it.
– Use the pictures to get them involved in the narrative.
“Can you spot a picture of someone running away from something? What do you think made them run?”
– Work with poems and rhymes early on so the student then begins to know the patterns and jump in with the endings of each line.
– Most of all, make learning to read fun. This will make a lasting impression on the young reader and may foster a love of books which will stay with them as they grow up.
I remember my Mum taking the time each night to read me a story and I was totally absorbed. I became curious about what was so exciting about books and soon became a keen reader.
If you don’t use books as punishments and try not to limit the types of books that a child reads then a love of books should develop naturally. When a child doesn’t want to read something, never force them. Instead, give them some space and ensure you are seen enjoying a book. Later on, try a different book with them or find a fun way to make the reading session more like a game.
For another of my posts about education, check out 5 Challenges Of Teaching.