How can I get my son to want to read for fun?


Barbara Spalding, Parent Resource & Coach for Education

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Hello. Firstly, you want to be sure to have reading material handy... in a variety of formats (chapter books, magazines, mail inserts, picture books, etc.). It is important that appropriate materials are within reach for when the mood strikes. Having a variety will set the tone that reading doesn't just have to be required books for school, something just for fun... or a quick curious moment.

Allow your child to "catch" you reading (preferably something other than your phone) and let your child know that reading is important to you with responses that include, "just a minute, I'm almost done this page" or "wow, I can't wait to see how this chapter ends this adventure"... even if you don't plan to discuss the novel itself. Things like, "I read this really interesting article this morning about..." says that not all information comes from video or t.v. and speaks to the necessity of reading without beating him/her over the head about it.

I think the most important thing is passion and patience. Reading doesn't come easy, as for some comprehension is an issue, while for others reading can make them drowsy. Understand what kind of reader you have and gear materials to suit his/her tastes and habits. Find non-intimidating means for exploring your child's passions and curiosities (perhaps even if on the darker side). My son was fascinated with Hitler and I let him explore these curiosities. Amazon and book stores are filled with tons of books in any sort of category, so if your child is into Marvel... select picture books or chapter books to capture this interest. If your son or daughter likes to cook, find a story about characters that also enjoy the kitchen. Reading should never be a punishment and certainly shouldn't feel like a chore. I'd advise reading a chapter book together... taking turns reading aloud AND discussing the characters, story and predictions. For older children starting to read on their own... ask lots of questions and be curious about what they are reading... they will be more inclined to continue reading and sharing with you.

Encourage reading in small chunks, with smaller books/chapters or consider a magazine subscription... not everyone can handle Harry Potter or Shakespeare and perhaps encourage reading to pets and siblings (older or younger). Patience, patience and passion. Enjoy this developmental stage.

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