I'll just come out and admit it. I LOVE to read. My home is filled with my favorite books that I read over and over again. I get a thrill recommending books that I have enjoyed to friends and students. I just can't stop reading...to me, it would be like I quit breathing.
I know it isn't this way for everyone. To be honest, it wasn't always that way for me. I really started to love reading when I was in high school. Before that, it was just something I had to do for school. I really do believe that everyone can love reading, they just have to find the right book! At least that's what turned it around for me.
It is in a student's best interest to love reading, and here's why: when a child loves reading- they are more likely to do it! The more a child reads, the better they get at it. And not only do they get better at reading, they improve their comprehension. When a child is reading lots of books, they are also picking up knowledge of other subject matter. A love of reading creates a snowball affect that influences all the parts of a child's brain.
So how do you guide your child to a love of reading? Even if they hate reading?
1. Read to them
This is always my very first suggestion when a parent comes to me with a child that is experiencing reading difficulties. Reading to your child may not magically make them a better reader, but it will give them a love of reading. All the warm fuzzy feelings experienced with sitting with a loved one and listening to a book will stay with your child forever. When a child is read to, they are freed up to imagine the story, share thoughts with you, and think critically about the problems in the story. So not only will reading to your child help them to love reading, it will also make them a better reader in the long run. After all reading the actual words is only part of reading- the bigger part is understanding the words and putting together their meaning.
2. Find books they really enjoy
The easiest way to help your child find books that they will enjoy is by going to the library. The librarian in the children's section will likely be able to listen to your child's interests and then give wonderful book suggestions based on his/her knowledge of children's literature. Librarians are seriously super heroes in my book! Once your child gets connected with some awesome literature aligned with their interests they will be more likely to read it!
3. Give them permission to quit a book
It's okay to quit! A lot of kids have a notion that once you start reading a book you are stuck to it and you must finish it- that's the way reading is. I love telling kids that I sometimes quit reading a book because I don't enjoy it. They always look so surprised! My motto is "life is too short to read bad books"...a book that I think is "bad" may be perfect for someone else- it's just not interesting to me. If a child feels free to quit a book that isn't catching their interest they will save themselves a lot of boredom associated with reading and up their chances of finding the perfect book for them.
4. Discuss books
Consider forming a family book club. Read a book together and then discuss it over dinner or in the car. Talking about a book that interests your child will encourage their interest while also helping them improve their understanding of the book. My husband always shares fond memories of his mom reading the books that he was really in to and then discussing them with him.
5. Let them see you reading
We can't ask kids to do something that we don't do and expect them to do it without question. If you want your child to develop a love of reading, it is important that you make sure they see you reading. Set a reminder on your phone or form a habit to read out in the open at a certain time of the day or during certain hours on the weekend. Invite your child to join you as you quietly read before bed. Place magazines and books around the house that you can pick up and read when you have a spare moment (also place some around for your kids). The more your child sees you read the more they will want to read as well!