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Not sure how you can help your child find enjoyment in reading? Education expert and Brightly blogger Melissa Taylor writes, “For some kids, reading is like doing the hokey pokey upside down underwater in a clown suit. It’s freakishly hard. And not at all fun. So it’s our job — as the ingenious parents we are — to sell it. And we can. We can help make reading fun.”
We know it’s a tough job, and that’s why we’ve partnered with Penguin Random House’s Brightly to share Taylor’s “Fun Rules” every parent should know along with our Genius Tips!
Brightly Fun Rule #1: Read the right books.
Nothing is more discouraging than trying to read Dostoyevsky when you’re better suited to Rick Riordan or Dr. Seuss. Be sure your child is reading books that are appropriate for his reading level, not books that are too challenging. Challenging equals discouraging. Use the 5 Finger Test to help.
Genius Tip: Set up a weekly book club sign up where kids can read a variety of books on their reading level and then get together to discuss them!
Brightly Fun Rule #2: Let kids choose their own books.
Your kids love being in charge of their lives. That’s why I say to let them load up on books that look interesting to them. (This is much cheaper at the library — even if you do have to pay overdue fines. I like to think of it as my way of supporting the new building fund. Gulp.)
Genius Tip: Everything is more fun if it’s social! Plan a weekly “date” at the library with another family, or let your child bring a friend along, provided it’s not too distracting!
Brightly Fun Rule #3: Go beyond the (traditional) book.
Do you know that it counts to read an audiobook? Yes, it is listening but here’s why it counts: it builds vocabulary and background knowledge about topics and literary devices. And what’s even better, it helps kids find the magic in the story itself. This is the KEY to loving to read and what kids miss when they’re overwhelmed with reading itself.
Also, don’t forget about reading books on devices such as an iPad or Kindle. Since many kids are mesmerized by technology, technology can make reading way enticing.Finally, remember those magazines and comic books. Dare I sound repetitive when I mention that they also count as reading?
Genius Tip: Make a connection to a real life event. Did you just visit the dinosaur exhibit at the children’s museum? Choose a book about dinosaurs and then discuss the connections between what your child saw and learned at the museum with what was in the book.
Brightly Fun Rule #4: Create a totally awesome reading area.
Work with your child to make a reading area he’ll want to hang out in. Think college dorm cool: rugs, lamps, beanbags, posters. Set the mood for fun. Then bring in the books, and voilà — you’ve created great ambience for reading.
Genius Tip: Once you have a reading area at home set up, think beyond that to other places where books could be accessible on the go! Store a book in your purse and a stack of reading materials in the car.
Brightly Fun Rule #5: Be a little naughty.
Try these rule-breaking ideas:
Genius Tip: As parents, it’s essential we master the art of “sneaking” in learning. Use age-level vocabulary words as games. Go on reading scavenger hunts to find new words, select some “words of the week,” and then put them to use!
- Allow your frustrated reader to stay up late with a super cool new headlamp and a good book.
- For reading time, you read to her — instead of the other way around. And maybe even read in your best silly or fancy voice.
- Let your child move while reading. Jump on the tramp, sit on an exercise ball, or hula-hoop and read.
Brightly Fun Rule #6: Don’t ignore the elephant.
If your child needs reading help, get it for her now. Testing, tutoring, whatever. Don’t wait. It won’t go away. Trust me. I’ve tried denial as a coping strategy and it does not work. (Darn it!) That elephant in the room is only going to grow. And I’m pretty sure it weighs a gazillion tons.
Genius Tip: When seeking extra help for your child, start with his teacher or administrative staff at school. You can also check with a local library or tutor center. Have the “serious” discussions without your child in tow if possible. Sensitive kids may feel like a failure from the beginning and resist the help.
You’ve totally got this.
Brightly is a new resource from Penguin Random House dedicated to helping parents inspire a lifelong love of reading in their children. Melissa Taylor, MA, is a teacher, mama and writer whose work has appeared in USA Today Health, Scholastic Parent and Child, as well as on Parenting.com and Brightly.com. From targeted book recommendations to seasonal inspirations and helpful tips, Brightly aims to make reading fun, meaningful, and memorable for families. Learn more at www.readbrightly.com.