Help encourage your child to read this summer – Great tips
from author Raymond Bean
As a parent to a non-reader (otherwise known as a “reluctant reader”) it can be VERY frustrating to encourage your child to read, most especially during the summer months. We have tried everything with our son, from reasoning with him to rewarding him for reading. So far nothing has truly worked.
Raymond Bean, author of the popular book series Sweet Farts, and a new series called School is a Nightmare, has offered some great tips and ideas to help parents of “reluctant readers” encourage their child/children to read this summer. Even if your child is an occasional reader these tips can be very useful to you as well.
A special thank you to Mr. Bean for writing this article for me.
Are You Ready for Summer Reading?
By Raymond Bean
If you asked 100 kids ages 8 – 12 to make a top ten list of all the activities they want to do this summer, I’d wager you wouldn’t find reading on many of them. However, if you asked the parents of those 100 children to make a list of the top ten activities they feel are the most important for their children to do over the summer, reading would be at the top of every one.
Of course, there are the lucky few whose children are more like the character Brick from the show The Middle. If you’re not familiar with the Brick character, he lives to read, and his parents practically beg him to try any activity other than reading. Most American parents live with the polar opposite of Brick. Many parents find they’re on an endless quest to help their child learn to love reading, and summer is usually the most challenging time of all.
The term reluctant reader is thrown around a lot these days. Parents and teachers use it to describe a child who avoids or resists reading. We all know there are countless factors that contribute to a child’s lack of interest in reading. Every child is different, and the secret to success can be extremely elusive. So what is the parent of a reluctant reader to do?
I’ve taught elementary school for fourteen years and every year around this time parents begin to ask about summer reading. I’ve provided a short list of strategies that I’ve found helpful over the years. Before you know it your child will scamper off the bus with a backpack loaded to the zipper with notebooks, folders, and the expectations for the dreaded SUMMER READING assignment. Regardless of your school’s summer reading expectations, you may have a challenge on your hands. Hopefully one or more of the strategies below will help make your child’s summer reading experience a success.
Yes, write! Some kids learn to love reading through writing. If you’re going to turn your reluctant reader into a book lover this summer, writing just might be the answer.
- Start by challenging your child to decorate a notebook with stickers, cut outs, pictures, etc.
- Get involved. There’s a catch. You must write too. Simply directing him to write isn’t enough. You’ll need to make a notebook of your own.
- Partner up with him to complete the writing activity together, or write a piece of your own on the same topic. Zooming in on small events from the day can help build a love of language and words that transfers to reading. If you went to the beach, write about one small moment from the day.
- Write daily or at least on agreed upon days in the notebooks.
- Try to include external details, internal thoughts, and dialogue to make the reading come to life.
- Start small and try to expand the writing as the summer goes on.
- Your writing will add up to a fun record of summer memories. It will also keep writing skills sharp and maybe even improve them a bit.
1. Be Flexible: Don’t push a book on your child. The more you push it, the more he’ll find reasons to dislike it. You may not love the book he’s reading, but it’s not about you. I bet he doesn’t want to read the book you’re reading.
2. Search Smart: Try searching for new titles on sites like Amazon. Start by having him type the title of a book he already read and liked. For example, type in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Then scroll down to the “frequently bought together” category. Books will naturally “pair” with similar titles. If he likes book x there’s a good chance he’ll like book y. Most books have a “Look Inside” feature. Use this to your advantage to weed out clunkers and minimize the chances of him selecting a book he doesn’t like. Read a few pages before making a decision, and make it together.
3. Set Goals: I’m not a fan of time based reading goals. Many kids simply wait out the clock and ask, “Am I done yet?” Instead experiment with page based goals. Consider the number of total pages in the book. Work with your child to decide on a manageable number of pages to be read per day. Don’t go nuts! Help your child set reasonable and achievable daily goals. Once daily goals are set, determine a completion date for the book. This strategy will help your child read more, and also provide experience planning, setting, and meeting goals.
4. Read: Practice what you preach! Don’t tell your child it’s time to read and park yourself in front of the computer or text your friends. Reading with your child when he’s making the transition to chapter length books is extremely valuable. Join in on the fun, and share the book. If he’d rather read alone, read near him. Snuggle up on the couch or at least in the same room, and read something you like. Have a reading goal of your own, and share it with your child.
5. e Reader: Consider buying your child an entry level e reader. You can get a Kindle for under $100 and your child can search, download, and sample books instantly.
Full disclosure, last summer I struggled with my then nine-year-old son over his reading. I was attempting to help him learn to appreciate and read chapter length books independently. I had a long list of books I was sure he’d love because I love them. It turned out that I had just that, a list of books that I love. Without meaning to, my son taught me that my job wasn’t to help him love my favorites, but to help him find favorites of his own.
Read, Write, Laugh,
For more information about Raymond Bean and his books please visit www.RaymondBean.com.
Look for the Sweet Farts series and his new series, School is a Nightmare, where ever books are sold.