I wrote Part I of Raise a Reader on February 25, 2010 on this website.  Being a reader, and knowing how important reading is, I decided to write “Raise a Reader! Part II.” Reading is something I enjoy and is something I feel good about.  When I am relaxed and at ease, there is nothing I really enjoy much more than reading.  It isn’t always a book I am reading.  I could be a magazine, a newspaper, or an informative, interesting website.

My son is now 9 years old.  While I have been reading to him all of his life, he has not really been an enthusiastic reader himself.  He likes for me to read to him and that is great with me.  It has been a good bond for us.  But the lack of interest from him in reading on his own has always been a challenge for me.

But I have seen some new interest from him in reading this school year and that is exciting.  Fourth grade is about two months along for him now.  I have definitely noticed a new spark of interest in reading from him.  The question that is there for those of us who have kids who are reluctant readers is how to encourage them to read and to build enthusiasm about it.

Probably the first thing to do is to be sure your kids see you reading.  When you are reading they notice!  And if you read something that you think your child will find interesting, share it with them.  My son is a big fan of the University of South Carolina sports teams.  When I read something about one of their teams that I think he would be interested in, I regularly share that with him.  Another simple key is to be sure there are lots of appropriate reading materials around your home.  Have books, magazines, and newspapers for your child to see and pick up.  Think about your child’s interests and have books related to them available.  Subscribe to a magazine for your child.  Many child oriented magazines are available, such as “National Geographic for Kids”, “Ranger Rick”, “Highlights”, and ”Sports Illustrated for Kids.”

Show your child that reading is something that many people enjoy.  They do not often see good examples of individuals reading on TV, but when you take them to your local library they will not only see the great variety of reading material available there, but hopefully will notice people of all ages at the library reading and checking out items.  If your child meets your library’s age requirement, get him or her a library card.  Kids love to have a card that is THEIRS.  Bookstores are obviously a fun place to explore, too.  When I take my son to a bookstore, I talk with him beforehand about the limit on how much we can plan to spend.  Or, I tell him we are going to make a wishlist, and write down titles of books we would like to get later.

Back to the school topic.  Many teachers give an assignment for students to read for a designated length of time each evening.  I recently read an article which recommended that if your child is reluctant about reading for the assigned period, say 20 or 30 minutes, etc., that you break the period up into two parts with an odd number of minutes.  This writer, whom I failed to note their name when I read the article, said kids love the odd number periods.  Have them read for 17 minutes, take a break, and then read for 13 minutes to complete their 30 minute assignment.  The article also said that if your child is not assigned a certain book to read and is being hesitant about reading. allow them to research a topic on the computer and read that.  Reading is reading!

My 4th grader has been more enthusiastic about reading this fall and I give credit to his school.  His teacher has given the students a list of award winning books to read.  When they finish one of the books on that list, they must pass a short test on the book.  When they have completed 14 of the books on the list, they get a trophy.  Trophies are great motivators for 4th graders, especially for boys!  Another plan has also created reading excitement for my son.  The media specialist (i.e. librarian) is having an optional book club for 4th graders.  It meets after school every few weeks.  They are reading assigned books and discussing them.  I can’t believe how enthusiastic my son has been about the book club.  Luckily, the county recreation center next door to the school is where many of the students at his school go for after-school care.  If the student normally goes to the rec center after school, the school has made arrangements with parents to walk their students there after each book club meeting.  So even those kids who are not “car riders” after school can participate in this club.

We certainly cannot make our children be passionate about reading.  But there are so many easy ways to expose them to reading and when we stop and think, there are many ways to peak their interest and build on this highly important life skill and hobby. Here’s to raising a reader!

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