THE benefits of reading are almost endless; however, it is not easy to get all children to read. Some children naturally read for pleasure, but for others even picking up a book seems like an endless battle.
A few weeks ago, I discussed the three different types of readers: children that read for joy, reluctant readers and children that struggle with reading. This week's column will focus on how to make reading appealing to reluctant readers. Reluctant readers are simply children that have no interest in books. I will discuss some techniques that you can implement at home to help develop a love for reading.
Ensure Reading is at the Right Level
A quick method to assess your child's reading level is by looking at their school guided reading book. Another simple technique to check their reading level is by using the Five Finger Rule. This simple method requires your child to turn to a random page and put up one finger for any word they do not know. 0-1 fingers are too easy, 1-2 unknown words is the perfect level, 3-4 give it a go, and +5 is too difficult.
Turn it into a Competition
Many schools use the Accelerated Reader programme, and I have witnessed how it can transform children from reluctant readers to book worms.
The programme quizzes children on books they have read whilst counting the number of words they have accumulated. It creates a drive to reach the much-coveted one million words status. You could try mirroring this type of competition at home by setting challenges to finish books with small rewards as an incentive. It is essential to ensure that children comprehend what they have read and not just read the words. Comprehension skills can be improved by flicking randomly to various pages and creating questions using the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Why and Where.
Create a Relaxed Reading Environment
Try encouraging children to read by creating a relaxed, inviting reading area at home. Be flexible about what you feel your family would enjoy the most. Reading areas could include a comfortable beanbag, indoor teepee, fairy lights, and a large selection/library of books. Just use your imagination and the space you have available.
Picking the Correct Book
Appeal to children's interests by selecting books around what they like. It is important to allow children to choose a book; however, they can be guided towards specific book themes that are more likely to grab their attention. It is also beneficial to look for book series as children enjoy following certain characters from book to book. A trip to the library can be helpful as they have various books that your child can explore before selecting one. I have incredibly fond memories of trips to the library as a child. There was something magical about receiving my first library card and going on an adventure to find the perfect book.
Setting a Good Example
Children are like sponges and soak up what they see. Try and create a positive reading environment at home by reading in front of children. Reading materials can range from a newspaper, magazine or novel. If your child wanted to read a book beyond their reading level, you could read it together. Reading books beyond their level will help introduce them to new vocabulary and story structures. It is extremely beneficial to read to children as early as possible to help them develop a love for reading. You can encourage a child’s love for reading from a very young age by using Peek-a-Boo/Lift-the-Flap and material books, as perfectly demonstrated by my amazing Godson Séaghdha McKeown.
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