One of the building blocks of an excellent education is reading. It opens up an amazing world of action and adventure. Breathtaking journeys have been undertaken, uncharted areas of the globe discovered, magnificent new friends met, all through reading.
Unfortunately, many children sit on the sidelines unable to read fluently enough to participate in these wonderful adventures. If your child does not devour books, fear not there is hope, try these strategies to entice them. Fluency comes from practice.
First, expose your child to carefully chosen books. If your child needed to gain weight you would not place dull, bland food in front of him. Instead you would fill his world with tasty and inviting food. Not only should you choose well written and well illustrated stories, you should match your child’s interests with books that coincide with those interests.
Next, read to your child. Nothing develops a better love of books and the stories and adventure contained within them than joint participation. It is up to you to read the book in such a way that heightens the author’s work. When reading to your child, express your surprise and excitement. Ask your child to guess what will happen next. Talk about why certain twists and turns surprise you. Talking through the story together helps your child create categories in his or her mind which strengthen comprehension and increase the joy of reading.
Always model reading. If you desire to entice your child to read you will need to do the same! Your child will learn by example. Be a good example by reading yourself. Talk about the books you are reading, express your pleasure or disappointment in the stories and material you read.
Finally, create specific reading times. Make a family reading time when you turn off all media distractions and read together. Additionally, in our family we rewarded our children for getting into bed on time by allowing them to stay up an extra thirty minutes to read. Each of my children learned to love this “extra” reading time.
All four of my children learned to love reading. While two seemed to naturally devour books, two needed extra prompting. Using these simple strategies you should be able to pass on the joy of reading to your children just as my wife and I were able to do for our children.
May God’s grace and peace be with you,
Mark and Ellen Strohm