I sometimes think it’s so much easier to read to teeny-weeny, newborn human beings who can’t wiggle or walk away even if they wanted to. On the other hand, I also think it’s way more fun when the person you’re reading to can actually respond, react to and comprehend what you’re reading. So reading to older kids, though tricky and challenging at times, can be far more rewarding simply because it’s a 2-way street. The flip side to this, of course, is that the said child can choose to wear a bored expression, simply walk away or tell you he hates reading in as many words. It’s a 2-way street after all, remember? Reading can seem like hard work and it does to many of us. There’s a certain threshold a child (and many adults) need to cross before they can truly experience the joy in reading and not look at it as homework or a necessary evil. It’s not clear if it’s a certain number of books or a certain number of hours put into reading or a certain level of reading speed and mastery over comprehension one has to reach to cross into this ‘reading is pleasure’ zone. One thing is for sure, however. Creating pleasant associations with the act of picking up a book and reading ain’t easy, but that’s the one thing that can make the difference between thinking of reading as a chore and reading as an enjoyable activity. That said, reading and books may just not be someone’s cup of tea – some of us just prefer to learn and absorb information using other channels and senses such as audio visual aids and hands-on experience. But for the rest of us who do mostly rely on the printed word to spark the cells between our ears, we have to figure out a way to cross into that zone smoothly and easily. More importantly, how do we help children continue to enjoy reading and books even if they’re struggling beginner readers or simply not as attracted to books as they used to be as babies and toddlers?
This post from Reach Out And Read, ‘ Take the Homework Out of Reading’ strikes a chord, reminding us of some handy tips.
I’d like add a couple of my own to this list.
- Change the setting: Works like a charm for just about anything. Yes, I’m all for a dedicated reading nook for little ones, but every once in a while, it helps to take the reading outdoors. Especially if it’s a beautiful day and you have a porch swing, a picnic table or a good old fashioned tree house in the vicinity.
- Play: A chapter book is a great place to play and have fun with words. Turn to any page and ask your child to find a certain word or phrase. Count the number of times a specific word is repeated on a page. Hide a part of a word or phrase with your fingers and take turns figuring out what it is. Read a sentence or even an entire paragraph backwards and see how far you get before the giggles get unstoppable.How do you help sustain the love of books in your older kids? Please share in the comments below.