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Friday, February 28, 2014

Motivating Discouraged Readers

For many children, playing video games, watching television and participating in other activities is preferred over reading.  In fact, parents and teachers often find themselves coaxing or bribing youngsters to open a book.  So what can be done to make this important activity more appealing?  

Ways to Entice Children to Read:
  • Associate Reading with Positive Experiences:  Try to avoid getting upset when your children do not choose to read.  Instead, ignore this behavior and praise them when they do choose to read.
  • Make reading a pleasant family bonding experience:  Select a time, daily or weekly, when the family reads together.   Make sure to call this activity a fun name, such as Family Fun or Reading Roundup.  Prepare favorite snacks and drinks, and create an inviting environment by pulling out pillows and blankets so children can make a cozy reading nook.  Family members can read as a group or independently.  Young children that can not read yet, can listen to others read aloud, books on tape or they can play games with text.  For example, they can be given a magazine and encouraged to read from left to right over the text and search for the letter "a." Every time they find it, they should circle it.  They can also be enticed to highlight sight words such as “the,” “said,” and “what.”  These pre-reading activities will help to develop letter and word recognition as well as attention to details and tracking skills. As another option, you can encourage young ones to use an I-Pad or similar device and play with interactive reading apps (see below) or pre-reading activities such as BBC's Syllable Factory Game
  • Use audio-books:  Listen to books on tape at home or in the car.  Be sure to stop the recording from time to time and discuss your visualizations.  Can you describe the setting?  What do the characters look like?  You can even play games by seeing who has the most accurate and most detailed mental imagery.  Both Learning Alley and Book Share are two sites that offer almost any book of your choosing. You can even set up your children to listen to free audio books online. Here are a few excellent sites:
    1. National Geographic Young Explorer 
    2. Storynory 
    3. Star Fall 
    4. Read To Me 
  • Share a book: Read the same book that your child is reading.  Encourage your child to highlight any difficult words.  Discuss each chapter to ensure understanding of the vocabulary as well as the content.  You can also discuss predictions and even inferences or hidden meanings.
  • Create a fun activity:  If your child like to draw, encourage them to do a drawing for each chapter.  Have them highlight all the things they want to include in their drawing while they are reading. 
  • Make sure books are enticing and accessible: Let your kids select their own books and make sure that they are easily accessible.
  • Introduce your kids to a series: Read the first book of a series to your child.  Then take turns reading the second book together.  If the book is too hard for them to read, echo read with your child.  When they get hooked, make sure to have the other books in the series on hand. 
I hope you find these ideas helpful!  Do you have any of your own strategies that you would like to share?

 Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.

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