Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Reading and comprehension open the door to learning. These skills increase attention span and critical thinking skills. They also increase vocabulary base, spelling skills, and writing and grammar skills. A person’s ability to comprehend what he is reading and to communicate effectively is relative to lifelong success. The following suggestions are helpful to those of you who are hoping to encourage a young child or teenager to read.
1) The best way to foster your child’s interest in reading is to model good reading habits. Culture your child’s willingness to read by letting him see you reading books, articles, blog posts, directions, and recipes. Take it to the next level by discussing what you are reading and how it has expanded your understanding and outlook on life or how it has helped you achieve something.
2) When you take time to read to your children, they will associate reading with special time with you. Furthermore, when a child is exposed to literature often, reading will become a more natural part of his daily routine. Make a commitment to read aloud to your infant, toddler, and young children at least fifteen minutes each day. In addition, rewind their bedtime fifteen to twenty minutes and commit to story time every night before bed.
3) To help your child gain interest in a book, read the first chapter aloud and encourage your child to read the rest on his own to find out what happens next. It is important to select a book that is at his reading level. If the book is hard to read, your child’s motivation to read it will fade.
4) Take time to discuss what is happening as you read the book and what your child can learn from it. Encourage your child to act out a play or develop a game to go along with the story. Encourage comprehension and understanding by asking questions about the story, playing out the scenes in a story, or making up story-related games.
5) As your child begins to read, write him short notes, and encourage activities that require reading such as learning a new game, baking with a recipe, or identifying plant life on a nature hike. If you restrict screen time, your child will have more time for reading-related activities
6) Keep books in your home that pertain to your child’s interests. House them in an easily accessible location. Visit your local library and encourage your child to check out books. Attend your library’s preschool story time and sign up for incentivizing reading programs.
7) Incentivize your child’s reading efforts to give him a sense of accomplishment. Make a chart or graph that outlines what you would like him to achieve whether it is time reading, number of books, or books of various genre. Think about rewards that will let your child know that you are proud of his accomplishment. A reward can be as simple as time alone with a parent while enjoying an ice cream treat.
8) Adapt the reading commitment for your older children and teens by scheduling fifteen to twenty minutes of quiet reading time in mid-afternoons and again before lights out at bedtime. Free up their schedule to allow time for reading. This will ensure that reading is viewed as a relaxing and enjoyable time, not an item that needs to be checked off the list in between piano lessons and household chores. Keep a variety of reading materials that range from leisure reading to reference material in your home. Create a cozy reading nook or install a small bookshelf near their beds. Equip them with good reading lights or book lights.
9) Whether five or ninety-five, many people express interest in others reading them a story. One of my treasured teenage memories at school include my teacher reading a chapter book to us after class. When I shared that thought with my husband, he also shared fond memories of a high school teacher having read to his class. Alter this idea to foster your teenager’s reading enjoyment. Have your teenager select a book of interest. Read a chapter to your teen one day each week. Alternatively, you can create a family story time tradition that replaces an hour of television watching each week by reading a book to your family or listening to a book on tape together.
10) People naturally increase their time reading when they can delve into concepts or topics that they are interested in. As your teenager reads for pleasure and interest, he will practice his reading skills in meaningful ways. Emphasize how reading can be used to further develop your teenager’s knowledge of areas he is interested in. As he reads, he will further develop his God-given gifts and passion. This will eventually transform into college readiness and career preparation. Help your teenager research the internet for articles and blogs on an interest-related topic. Subscribe to magazines and locate books that connect to your teenager’s passions, interests, and God-given gifts. Does your teenager love sports or sportscars? Does he aspire to become a pilot, archeologist, or paleontologist?
11) Foster a deeper relationship with your teenager by expressing interest in what he is reading. When he feels as though his interests are important to you, he will be more likely to share his thoughts and ideas through conversation. You may even witness a sparkle in his eye or a spring in his step! As he reveals what he has learned through conversation, he will begin to identify how he is expanding his knowledge and growing as a person through reading. Make connections between your teenager’s ability to read and have open discussions about the doors to learning that open through reading. Include the doors that open for opportunities to serve others in both his personal life and future career. Realizing the value in reading, your teen will develop a hunger for more.
12) Try having your child or teenager alternate reading with you, a sibling, or a friend. You can also have him read easy picture books to younger siblings. In some cases, you might find electronic devices helpful. E-readers such as a Kindle will allow you to tailor the print to larger font or less lines per page. If you think it might help, have your child or teen practice reading by incorporating an occasional audiobook. Alternatively, have him read a book and then reward him with the correlating movie. You can take it one step further by having him write a compare and contrast essay or express the similarities and differences between the book and the movie orally.
13) If your child or teenager is still a reluctant reader, discover the reasons he is apprehensive. You may want to have his reading ability assessed. You may discover that he hasn’t developed strong vocabulary skills and is guessing at what words mean. He may struggle with how to pronounce words, needing to further develop his phonogram skills. He may lack emphasis and meaning through expression as he reads aloud which may indicate difficulty in visualizing, questioning, and interpreting what he is reading. Once you have assessed where the difficulty lies, you can help your child or teen improve those specific skills and get him on a path that leads to reading enjoyment.
14) If, upon assessment, you discover your child or teenager is experiencing a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, seek help from someone who specializes in helping children who face that type of learning difficulty. Visit my resource page >>> here <<< for links to help students who are experience a learning difficulty. You can also seek out local helpful resources such as occupational therapists, learning centers, or tutors. Your child’s pediatrician might be able to help you locate local resources. Through social media or your local homeschool group, reach out to homeschool parents who are helping their children who face similar learning difficulties. Homeschool moms are always willing to share suggestions that have helped them with their children. Local homeschool moms can also help guide you to helpful local resources.
I was a reluctant reader when I was a child. Instead of reading an entire book, I would often try to read a few highlights in attempt to write a book report. As I progressed through my teenage years, I began to realize the value of reading. As an adult, I read often and find great joy in studying. Now I am a published author! From one who overcame the reluctance of reading, I hope you feel encouraged that your reluctant reader can and will thrive. Never give up encouraging your child to read. As he reaches adulthood, he will thank you for cultivating his reading ability and love for learning!