When My Child Hates Reading
I will never forget the day. One of my children declared that they hated reading. What?????!!!
It is comparable to how a MLB player feels if their child refuses to pick up a baseball. Or a counselor has a child who hates to address their feelings. Or a seamstress has a kid who refuses to learn how to sew.
Okay, so I am not exactly an MBA player, counselor, or seamstress, but I do love reading and I have my Masters in Literacy Instruction so you can see how I may feel?
Maybe you are a parent who has done all the right things since day one and your child still declares that they dislike the magic of books.
Maybe you have a child that struggles with reading, and you are at your wit’s end trying to get them to learn how to read, much less enjoy reading.
I hear you, and I feel you.
That day I heard the words that my child not only disliked reading, but they dreaded reading, I knew I must make some changes.
A quote popped out to me as I was researching ways to get my child to enjoy reading. This quote still sticks with me today.
To quote James Patterson:
“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.”
I thought long and hard about this and I finally got it. My child didn’t find that magical book yet. You know….the book you cannot stop thinking about during the day? The way a book can make you feel like you are walking around with the characters in your mind throughout the day. The anticipation of bedtime, when you can turn on your reading lamp, deep under blankets, and escape to wherever your book takes you.
The next day, I started implementing ways to encourage my children to enjoy reading. Here are some ways to help a child actually ENJOY reading:
Set the scene: Be intentional about a time when your children can read. Some nights are just not going to happen. Between sports and life, try and be realistic. Maybe it is a few nights a week, maybe it is their own book section in the car, maybe it is during their brother’s basketball game. I try and look at the forecast and if there are rainy nights, we know we are going to have more inside time in the evening. Set up a cozy area in their room. Add twinkling lights, maybe a beanbag, bookmarks, and pillows. Or build a reading fort. Read by flashlight. Read outside in a tree. Change it up!
Model, model, model: when your kids read, you read. Grab your book and take time to enjoy the magic of books. Kids need to see print in action. Read a newspaper, or get on the floor and read a picture book with them.
Find out their Current Reading Level: Ask their teacher what reading level they are at and what books would be best for them to read. The last thing you want is a frustrated reader. Once you know their current reading level, make a trip to the library or bookstore.
Book Store or Library Trip: Have your child join you when you go to the library or bookstore. Ask a worker where you can find books for their current reading level. Encourage your children to pick out books that interest them. Picture books are great too! Make sure to grab a book that you can read aloud some nights as well.
Find a series: I will never forget my one son read Elephant and Piggy books his entire first grade year. He loved them. It is important for me to remember that there are major benefits for kids when they read the same book over and over again. Rereading has many advantages such as building confidence and increasing vocabulary and comprehension skills. My other son thrived on graphic novels. We loved Pizza and Taco books, Elephant and Piggy, Wings of Fire Graphic Novels, and Fred and Ted.
Create a Bookmark Together: Kids find it fun to create a bookmark.
Start Small to Go Big: No matter what age your child starts reading independently, remember they need to build up their reading stamina. Start with five minutes and add a minute every week. There are also bookmarks with timers on them for older kids.
Reading Incentive: I ordered some great punch cards from amazon and encouraged my kids to choose a fun outing with a friend or family member when their card is all filled up. Click here for punch card ideas.
Reading and Writing go hand in hand: We get our kids blank books to create stories and draw in them too.
Click here for an example of a blank kid's book they can write and draw in to create their own book! Don't get caught up in handwriting or spelling. Let their creativity soar!
I hope these ideas help as you help create a lifelong reader. It is no easy task, but with patience and consistency you will have a reader who LOOKS FORWARD to reading.