A Teacher Shares: 3 Tips to Encourage Your Child to Read During Quarantine
Like many other teachers, I miss being in the classroom with my students. I also sympathize with parents as they try to juggle working from home and helping their children with school assignments. Getting children, no matter their age, to read more books has always been a major concern for parents—even before there were quarantines and school shutdowns.
So how do you get a reluctant reader to turn into an enthusiastic one? Ahead are methods that other teachers and I use to get students excited about reading.
Make a list.
On an ordinary sheet of paper, or a template found online, have your child make a list of books they are willing to give a try.
Start by having your child explore Goodreads, Amazon, or a similar website where you can find descriptions of several kinds of books. Encourage them to look at different genres, even ones they may not think they would like. Have them write down the titles and authors of five books that sound interesting and ask them to rank their choices from one to five (one being the top choice). Then, have your child read a sample (this is available on many book sites) from their first chosen book. If the book still interests them, find a copy (physical or digital) for them to read.
You could also download Libby, an app that connects to your local libraries and lets you borrow free ebooks and audiobooks if you worry about spending money on a book they don’t like.
Many libraries are also offering virtual library cards to those who have not had the chance to get a physical copy, so don’t let building closures stop you or your child from finding a book to connect with!
Don’t force them to read something they don’t enjoy.
Many parents make the mistake of handing their child a random book in hopes that they will suddenly be book lovers. I once had a student anxiously ask if there would be a lot of reading in my class (I’m an English teacher, so…yes.). The source of her apprehension? Her parents, in good faith, had her read for several hours a day over the summer to get caught up with her peers. While well-intentioned, this can discourage many children from reading.
Instead, have them try their book for at least 25 to 30 minutes. If they are already disinterested, have them try another book on their list the next day. Don’t worry if they don’t immediately connect with a book.
Repeat as many times as necessary, even if it seems like finding a book is impossible.
Audiobooks and comic books count.
It may be strange to think that reading comprehension can be built by listening to audio or looking at a book with mostly pictures, but it works! Some of my most reluctant readers have found joy in listening to audiobooks and reading graphic novels.
Audiobooks help children learn how to emphasize and pronounce certain words. They can also be listened to while simultaneously working on homework or doing chores.
Children who have trouble visualizing long descriptions of characters and scenes in typical books love comics and graphic novels because the main story is the focus. Not to mention that many children love pictures, no matter how old they are.
Remember, it’s okay if not everything goes according to plan. Just like parenting, teaching is also a lot of trial and error.