|The fact that this t-shirt exists makes me sad.|
The entries on this blog have focused on the importance of reading in education. Exposure to literature and the ideas contained therein is essential to the formation of a well-rounded individual. All of that is wonderful, but what if you have students who either dislike reading or have difficulty with it. ADHD, dyslexia, some forms of autism, and many other learning challenges can make reading a struggle. Others are simply not interested. What do you do in such cases? There are several practical ways to encourage and develop a love of reading.
Research backs up what any parent knows: children learn by example. Read in front of your children. Talk with others about the books you are reading. Parents who read for their own pleasure and communicate that experience by talking about the books they're reading are more likely to pique their children's interest.
Make books easily accessible. Begin building a family library. This will reinforce the value you place on reading. Make regular trips to the library so that there are new books in your home for your children to discover.
Make time for reading. Turning off the TV is one of the most important steps one can take in opening up space for reading. Limit time on the computer and playing video games. This may lead to boredom, not such a bad thing, and lead children to discovery reading for their own pleasure.
Read aloud as a family. This is essential. While many children think of reading as "boring" everyone loves a good story. Read aloud some of your childhood favorites. Once children are introduced to the joys of hearing good stories, it is often not long until they are wanting to discover good books for themselves. Reading aloud is also essential for developing good writing skills, even more so than reading silently to oneself!
Follow your children's interests. If your son dislikes reading but loves horses, read Marguerite Henry's lovely stories with him. Encourage your child's overactive imagination by introducing her to the wonderfully fantastical worlds of C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, Francis Hodgson Burnett, and Madeleine L'Engle. Show your children that books are one of the best ways to explore their interests.
Investigate the link between musical education and reading ability.
These are just a few practical suggestions and many people have found success in implementing some or all of these changes. If your child is still struggling, remember that all children develop at different speeds. We know children who took to reading immediately and for others it was slow process that took years. It may also be worth having your child tested for a learning disability. There are many tools and resources now available to help children with these challenges. Families have found help in therapeutic methods, teaching tools, even dietary changes! For a child who struggles with things that come easily to his friends or siblings, diagnosis can be a relief if it is presented in a supportive and encouraging manner.
I would love to hear from parents of reluctant readers! What have you done to encourage reading? How have you been successful? What challenges did you face?