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This week's question:
How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?
As a home schooling mom, I ran into this problem with my oldest child. We always had books around the house, and we read to all the children from when they were tiny babies until they no longer wanted to be read to (about middle school age). I thought by giving the children access to books, taking them to the library, and reading to them, it would instill the same type of love for reading that I had. I know, I was young and foolish :)
When we started teaching my son how to read, and had him reading the beginner books, he was frustrated because he thought the stories were dumb and pointless. We searched, changed readers, changed everything we could think of and by third grade, he didn't want to read any longer and was getting to the point of hating to read. It became a struggle every day, so I made a rash decision. I was no longer going to make him read.
My husband thought I was crazy, especially with him in third grade with mandatory testing looming over our heads. He was sure I was really screwing up and that we would be required to send our son to school because he wouldn't test well. We had tons of discussions, but I stuck to my guns.
I told my son he no longer had to read "stupid" books. In fact, he didn't have to read at all. You should have seen that boy's face. It lit up like a beacon! I went on to tell him that since he wasn't reading, he would be required to sit next to me while I read to him. That was fine with him, "as long as the books weren't stupid".
All through third grade, our son (and daughter) sat next to me while I read from books that were beyond his reading and age level. He enjoyed good literature and stories that had meaning, adventure, and good values. He, of course, read along with me, and I would see his lips moving while I was reading. Every once in a while I'd miss a word or phrase, and he'd jump right on it, telling me that I got the word wrong or skipped something. He was anxious for our reading time, and as time went on, he started wandering off with books again. When the mandatory test results came back, his scores were very high and my husband couldn't believe that we were successful.
I believe that each of us has our own needs and learning style, and those have to be nurtured. If a teen hates to read, my question is "WHY?". Once we get to the bottom of the problem, the solution is plain. It's just discovering the problem. Making a teen boy read a romance that he despises just because it's a classic is absurd. There are so many classics out there that I'm sure one can be found to fit his personality.
My son is now off in college as a history major. He loves to read and has an overflowing bookcase of books he can't part with. We can't go past a bookstore without having to stop and browse and we never leaving empty-handed. He took his favorites with him to college, although I'm sure he doesn't have much time to look at them. He said they are if he wants them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this fantastic question. Make sure to LEAVE YOUR COMMENT or link to your answer below!!