Help Kids Enjoy Reading

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Reading has always been a passion of mine.  My mother told me that when I was a toddler (before I could read), I would grab stacks of books and tell the stories how I remembered them or make something up.  I don’t think there has ever been a time when I didn’t enjoy reading.  Okay, that isn’t true.  I really don’t enjoy reading text books.  I learned to skim through those in college.

I have two children who love to read as well, but it wasn’t always that way.  Trying to get my kids to read was a very difficult task to start with and I couldn’t understand why.  How could they not love reading as much as I love to read?  When I brought this dilemma up to my husband, he informed me that he didn’t like to read until he was an adult.  I was in shock because my husband reads all the time.  But I guess as a child/teen it seemed more like a chore to him.

I thought about what my husband had said and decided I didn’t want reading to seem like a chore for my kids.  It should be enjoyable.  So, I set out to make reading fun.

I started out by giving the kids incentives to read more.  I made reading charts and they got to put stickers on their chart for every 15 minutes of reading they completed.  Once their chart was complete they could get something from the bookstore.  That worked a little to start with, but the kids got bored with the chart, and they were content on not getting a prize.

The next thing I tried was finding books they would enjoy.  I would take them to the library and let them look for different books they wanted, and also made some suggestions of my own.  I had done quite a bit of research for what was popular based on their age groups.  My daughter, who is the oldest, finally go into the “Ivy and Bean” series by Annie Barrows, when she was around 7 or 8.  She ended up reading the entire series and moved on to other series like “Nancy Clancy” by Jane O’Conner, as she got older.  Now, at age 11, she enjoys the “Whatever After” series by Sarah Mlynowski , and the “Dork Diaries” by Rachel Renee Russell.  She also enjoys mysteries and wants to read some of the books I’ve read.

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My son was also difficult.  But I had learned from my daughter that it was just a matter of finding the right book.  To start with, I discovered that he liked history and stories based on actual events.  Together we discovered the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis .  Each book follows a different child surviving an historical event.  My son then moved on to the “Jedi Academy” series by Jeffrey Brown, and he still likes to re-read those books.  He is now 9 and loves the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney, and graphic novels (not too graphic).

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I learned that in order to make reading fun for my kids I needed to listen to them and discover what would interest their minds.  My kids are now very avid readers, and I have since reinstated the reading chart.  Now we have a little family reading competition that has been going on for about a year.  Every time someone finishes a book within their reading level, they mark it on their chart.  First one to read 100 books gets a special prize that we all agreed would be suitable.  This has helped to encourage everyone in the house to read more, and makes for some friendly competition.  So far my son is winning.

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