Simple Ways to Make Reading Fun for Your Child

Make Reading Enjoyable for Kids

Reading is essential to the intellectual growth of a child. Study upon study has linked early reading habits with admittance to college and future success, and not only that, but reading is fun. A good story transports the reader to other times and places and stimulates thought and the creation of new perspectives. But it can be hard to instill a similar love of reading in your child for various reasons. Reading is hard at first, and it requires more work than watching TV or playing video games. Plus, it does not offer the instant gratification of time in front of a screen and is not always viewed as “cool” by your child or their peers.

As such, sometimes a parent has to go the extra mile to get children to buy in to the fact that reading is fun and is an amazing thing. Here are some easy tips for getting your reluctant reader hooked on reading. It may require a little more effort or involvement on your part, but it will certainly pay off vast dividends in the long run — and allow you two to spend some quality time together.
  • Encourage reading of any kind: The first books I ever read, much to the chagrin of my beloved 1st grade teacher, were R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps books. My teacher considered them trashy, but my mother did not care: she was just glad to see me reading. Young readers often get turned off from reading because parents and teachers feed them texts that do not interest them or are just way over their heads. Let your child pick something out that interests them, or ask other parents what their kids are reading. It’s perfectly fine to start out with Calvin and Hobbes or other “un-literary” books as well. Reading is reading, and will only stimulate a curiosity and a desire to tackle other texts.
  • Calvin and Hobbes, reluctant readers, http://pragmaticmom.com
  • Bring stories to life: The more a child can connect with a book on a real-world level the more they will see the value — and enjoyment — in reading. Read before doing a special activity, or let an outing inspire your next reading choice. Have a child who has always dreamed of having a pony? Read Black Beauty or another book together before heading out to horseback riding lessons or just visiting a horse stable. Have a child who is obsessed with their Little League sport? Choose a book to compliment that, such as the biography of a favorite player, or even just read the sports page together in the morning to keep up on favorite teams.
  • Black Beauty, http://PragmaticMom.com, reluctant readers
  • Let books inspire creativity: The best part of reading for many a young reader is the chance to let their imaginations go wild. Reading doesn’t dictate how a character or a setting should look beyond a few key details; it’s all up to the reader to stage the happenings of a text in their minds. Let your little reader go wild. Act out scenes from books after you’ve read them, or have drawing time after reading sessions to let them draw out their favorite scenes — or better yet, create new ones predicting what will happen next.
  • Read the book before seeing the movie: I like this more than the other way around. Make it a rule that you have to read the book first before seeing the movie — it will give the child an incentive to keep reading, and allow for great discussion after seeing the movie. Talk about all the parts the movie “got wrong” and how your child envisioned it from reading the text.
  • Lead by example: Believe it or not, what you do as a parent is what your child sees as cool (well, at least until they’re teenagers). If you read often, they in all likelihood will as well. Read in the living or a communal area of the house, especially one usually reserved for TV, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your child grabs a book of their own and curls up next to you.

Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on accredited online colleges for the Guide to Online Schools.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

6 Comments

  1. Ian Chia

    “Read the book before seeing the movie” – I did this with my older daughter (now 11) and we made it all the way through the entire Harry Potter series like that. It worked out beautifully because we started the books together in Grade 2 and we got to the last book when she was in Grade 6. The gradual changes and sophistication of the books, plus the development of the teenage characters were far too much for her to understand in context, without take the time to read (or being read) the books through and allow for some easy bedtime discussion.

    I think it’s a real pity that often parents take allow their younger children to see movies that are made for older teens. Part of it is that they’re not developmentally ready to understand, part of it is that they miss the richness of the literature (eg. whole chapters or storylines left out of the HP books because they just can’t fit them into the movies), or sometimes – it’s just plainly inappropriate to show a younger child scenes that are meant for an older audience.

    I don’t think it’s a hard and fast rule though about having to read the entire book before the movie. My younger daughter who’s 8 has a very different concentration span. We tried doing it the same way, and she took 6 months to get through 2 chapters because it didn’t engage her in the same way. She is passionate about Harry Potter, so we’re reading the books by chapters, and showing the scenes of the movies where they match. That way, it’s still inspiring her to read the book, but the momentum is being driven by the occasional movie scene. She is realising slowly that the book is far richer than the movie, and occasionally quite upset that the movies omit such great chapters – so that works quite well to show her the power of literature. She’s now early into book 3, so learning to accomodate her learning style is working out well.

    Cheers,

    – Ian

  2. Ian Chia

    I will add though that she also enjoys seeing scenes in the movies that *aren’t* in the books. It’s a great demonstration that cinema is a valid art form, and we discuss why they added certain scenes and why they’re so visually beautiful.

    • Thank you so much for your sharing your experiences reading the books before the movie. You bring up such great points and have a really balanced view! It’s much appreciated!

  3. Ian Chia

    Well, we have a little mutual appreciation society going on here. I love your blog because it’s so thoughtful, balanced and responsible. Thank you! (-:

    … last thing I’ll add about the original topic – both my girls occasionally felt a bit left out when most of their friends at school see the latest HP movies and they’re not allowed. My older daughter Grace, who’s eagerly waiting for the Deathly Hallows movie now appreciates that her friends who didn’t read the books are the ones that have missed out, because she’s gained so much more richness from the books.

    My 8 year old is still struggling with it … but she’s only early into book 3. Yet to gain the hindsight that her big sister has.

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