Motivating Children to Read at Home
By Freda J. Glatt, MS
Parents, you are your children's first - and lifelong - teacher. By instilling a love for reading in them, you will be opening up their world to a lifetime of adventure, information, and so much more. What a special gift! Here, then, are ways to help motivate your children to read at home.
1. Start when they are non-readers. Toddlers love colorful picture books and can learn vocabulary, colors, shapes, turning pages, and other pre-reading skills by talking about pictures.
2. Read poetry and finger plays. Not only are they funny and interactive, but the rhythm makes them easy to learn.
3. Listen to books on tape and follow along with the printed version. These tapes should engage youngsters through different voices for different characters. Use them on long rides, vacations, rainy days, or when you are too busy to sit with your children.
4. Buy books for presents, especially personalized books which have your children's names in them. They will want to read these books over and over again!
5. Have many kinds of books available in the house. Try to organize them in tubs. For example, have separate tubs for books about animals, places, biographies, sports, and so on. Label the tubs with pictures for non-readers and words for readers.
6. Read to your children DAILY. Have a special time to read together in a comfortable setting and let them choose the book. You will notice their interests and have a special bonding experience.
7. Read with intonation and different voices for all the characters. By sounding happy, sad, or angry, the words will come to life and the story will become more meaningful. As your children become older, let them read the words of a character so you can read together.
8. Let your children ask questions and discuss pictures. When they are older, discuss characters and plot. If your children feel comfortable asking questions, that will carry over to the classroom.
9. Subscribe to a magazine of your children's choice. This will let them practice making decisions and affirm that their interests matter.
10. Write positive notes to each other and leave them around the house. A personalized note at breakfast will set the tone for a great day!
11. Get your children a library card and make sure they use it!
12. Be a role model for your children by reading all kinds of printed material yourself, such as cereal boxes, newspapers, mysteries, cartoons, word puzzles, billboards...whatever you want. The more variety your children see you read, the more variety they are likely to read, too.
13. Show your youngsters that reading is a part of daily life. Do you watch television? Read a TV schedule. Do you cook? Read a recipe. Do you like sports? Read the newspaper's sports section. Do you need to assemble something? Read the directions. Do you want to go to a restaurant? Read the menu. Your children need to see that reading is relevant to their lives!
14. Write a family book and add to it once a month. Each person could be responsible for his own chapter. After three months, for instance, sit altogether and read the book. At the end of the year, reread the entire book!
15. Instead of giving sweet treats for a job well done, reward your children with extra reading time before going to sleep, a trip to the bookstore, a trip to the library, a bookmark, or something else to do with reading.
16. Have a Reading Theme Party where guests dress up like their favorite book characters. They can play Musical Chairs with a twist. Under each chair, place a book. When the music stops, the guests read part of that book. Take note of one child and make sure to stop the music when he is at different places. In that way, everyone gets to read several books. As a party treat, try giving a gift certificate to a bookstore where children may want to find a particular book and finish reading the whole thing!
17. If your children are struggling, start with their interests and have them choose books they will enjoy. Have them write their own books around a theme they like and read it to everyone they know. Let them create a word puzzle focusing on one of their interests and give it to people to fill in. Your children could also write a book or make a word puzzle about someone else and give it as a present.
I hope these ideas are useful and inspire your own creative thinking.
And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!
About the Author
Freda J. Glatt, MS, retired from teaching after a 34-year career in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Her focus, now, is to reach out and help others reinforce reading comprehension and develop a love for reading. Visit her site at http://www.sandralreading.com. Reading is FUNdamental!
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