Motivating Kids and Teenagers to Read – Page 2 – By C. L. Lewis
“Here’s a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don’t act on: The more kids/teens read, the better readers they become. The best way to get kids/teens reading more is to give them books that they’ll gobble up – and that will make them ask for another. Yes, it’s that simple. 1 + 1 = 2. Kids say the No. 1 reason they don’t read more is that they can’t find books they like. Freedom of choice is a key to getting them motivated and excited.
Vampire sagas, comics, manga, books of sports statistics — terrific! — as long as kids are reading. Should they read on tablets and mobile devices? Sure, why not? (I’ll cover that more later) How about rereading a book? Definitely. Set a good reading example by letting your child see you do the very thing you are asking them to do.
While you’re at the library letting your children pick out a few books, why don’t you choose a few for yourself? Let your child see you reading a good book now and again. This will prove once and for all that you’re not trying to punish them by asking them to do the same thing.
Great Ways To Get Your Children To Read…
The Real World Example: Pending your child/teen’s age, have them assist you with reading a recipe, ordering food from a menu or putting together a toy using directions, reading a map on a trip or signing them up to read to younger groups at the library…
Use your imagination – this can be a an excellent demonstration of the practicality of reading. Of course the task should be age appropriate but for smaller children, I recommend basic reading board games such as Uncle Wiggly, or the Reader Rabbit series. These methods are fun but once again they place your child in a real world scenario in which they need to utilize reading to play/win the game.
In turn, they realize that it is not only necessary – but reading is a valuable skill that can help them get ahead in the real world. Get involved – Some of you cringed when you read the words – get involved. But the depth of involvement is up to you and what you feel is necessary.
Start off easy. The example I’m about to discuss was the same one we used in my home – with the same positive outcome. However, I thought it best you hear about unbiased results: A fellow teacher’s children were five, seven, and eight. Every night before bedtime, she would read with them for ten to fifteen minutes. At first she did most of the reading.
I have to admit it was a sacrifice for her, because for the most part (like the rest of us) she was just dead tired after work. At first they picked simple to read, easy to follow books with lots of pictures on subjects they were interested in – most of which we found at the local library or on eBay.
This same routine was followed all the way up until the day when each child was capable of reading on their own before bedtime. Pending on what type of day they’d had, they were allowed to stay up another fifteen to twenty minutes past bedtime in order to read. In their eyes it was a reward because they got to stay up longer and delve into a good book. In their mother’s eyes it was also rewarding because she finally had her children reading on their own.
Stick with Your Reading Plan: My friend knew eventually that “reading time together” would pay off only if she stuck with it! So, she made a plan and no matter how tired, sometimes only reading for five minutes before bed time. Because…you know how life gets.
But soon her kids were coming into her room with books to read and eventually this led to them reading in their own rooms before lights out! She stuck to it and reading before bed became a positive habit. Whatever your plan is – that’s the beauty of it – it’s your plan. You can choose how long, when, and where to read. With your child’s help, you can also choose what to read.
Kids and Teenagers Love Audio Books…
Now, I know that kids approaching the tween to teen years most likely won’t want to read with you, so what should you do? Please skip to my Rewards for Reading section. And yes, you’re okay to give praise or special prizes for reading. Some children or teens need this type of encouragement…Then again, don’t we all at times?
If you’re routinely tired with little to no time or patience, or if you’re simply not feeling like you can read with your child regularly, then my next suggestion would be to try audio books. They not only teach reading with emotion and inflection, but they can broaden your child’s vocabulary and imagination just as much as books can – without you having to do anything more than press play.
The great news is audio books come in genre for all ages. Audio books can be enjoyed before bed time, while playing or even in the car. Many series come with read along books which can also help your child get interested in reading. Case and Point:
My children started listening to a certain audio books series. And when they found out that they had this same series at the library we rushed down and checked them all out! My kids read every single book within a two week period laughing and pointing out the things that were familiar to them because of the audio books they’d listened to previously.
Suggestions for good audio books are Mary Pope Osborne (The Magic Tree House), Nick Bell (Time Pirates), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), and even George Lucas (Star Wars or Clone Wars Series). It is up to you to find age appropriate and interesting titles.
There is an entire world of audio book series made not just for kids or teens, but for adults as well. What if your child/teen is getting older? Has your time run out to try and motivate them to read? Absolutely not! Rewards for Reading: Reading in and of itself is rewarding, but for those who think differently a little persuasion never hurt. How big or small the reward is remains entirely up to you, but it will undoubtedly help.
It can be as simple as verbal praise or as extravagant as a monetary reward. For example: We offered our kids a trip to the local ice cream shop with all of the trimmings if they read up to a certain amount of books over the summer.
The individual with the most books read got to choose special toppings. Our rules were: The books had to consist of more words than pictures. Furthermore, they had to tell us about each book and why they did or didn’t like it. Over the course of the summer they collectively read 78 books in all.
Another example of a reward would be: A parent friend of mine had a child who wanted to see a particular movie. It was agreed upon that she could see the movie if she read the book first. By the time she’d finished the book, she was so excited it was all she could do but scream! When the coveted day finally came, she was quick to point out any discrepancies between the book and movie. It was fun for her because she felt like she was an expert on the subject.
Furthermore, it is my understanding that she went on to ask if there were any more books that had become movies because she wanted to start the process all over again. If you’re not sold on the rewards for reading, you’ve heard too many negatives on the subject then – Ask yourself a simple question: “What would make you read?”
Finding Free Books To Read With Technology
Of course! Many books are available for free or lending on digital book readers such as Kindle, and Nook. Although the devices themselves are not free, in the long run this is the sort of technological stuff that kids and even us big kids are into these days.
Another co-worker of mine purchased a Kindle for her 14 year old son who previously liked to read but was getting deeper into video games. Something I personally don’t mind – but a pastime that needs balance. I can’t tell you why, but simply because it is the latest gadget in computers, her son was all over it! He’s read countless books for free and some he’s purchased quite affordably with his own money. Go figure.
There are various platforms for digital readers if you are unsure about Amazon’s Kindle. Nook, by Barnes and Noble is another popular digital reader that is easy to operate and is also popular among its users. So what’s the good news? – The good news is if you are determined to motivate your child to read – you can do it.
The road may not be easy, but don’t give up. You know your child or teen best. You understand what makes him or her tick. With a little brainstorming you’ll be on your way. It may even help to ask your child what would help them to read. You’d be surprised at the answers you’ll receive.
Lastly, if you remember nothing else – Remember – Keep Everything in Balance/Be Reasonable – its okay for your children to have pastimes other than reading. Read a little, play a little, and work a little….Find the combination that works well for everyone. For the most part, video games aren’t bad. Believe it or not among many things ( some good – some bad) they do teach basic reading skills and even cardinal directions. You’ll know when it’s time to suggest alternatives.