Whenever I meet a student who doesn’t read – or worse, doesn’t enjoy reading – it breaks my heart a little. As a kid, a long time before iPhone and iPads and Youtube I would stay up late learning about the world through characters in books.
The benefits of reading are endless, but in this tech world it is getting harder and harder to inspire a love of reading in young people. Here are 4 strategies I’ve found can aid a student in the reading journey:
1. Encourage them to read at their ability level.
This is one of the biggest obstacles I see to students enjoying reading. If they are reading something that is too difficult for them it is unlikely they will enjoy it – just like we struggle to enjoy things we aren’t good at. Choosing books that are appropriate for their skill level is really important – and getting this right will in turn improve their skills which will then lead to more advanced books. Speak to their teacher or your tutor about identifying their reading level and choosing books that are ideal at their level.
2. Choose books that interest them.
You will know the natural interests of your child, so try to pair them up with stories that appeal to these. Just because a book is popular or other kids like them doesn’t mean your child will. You’ll find books on every niche at your local library or book store, so choose those that your child will naturally gravitate to. I’ve had students read books on Rugby League, Minecraft and novels based on their favourite youtube stars. There is something out there for everyone!
3. Make it a habit
Daily reading time is so valuable. It is a time to switch off from the electronic stimulus and get their imagination working – but also ensures their skills improve day by day. I suggest no less than 15 minutes of quiet reading time a day; 30 minutes if possible. I make it a before bedtime activity for my own kids – but you need to do what works for your family’s schedule. By making it a daily habit, they won’t put up a fight when asked to read as they will just accept it as something they do everyday.
4. Be the example
It is hard to tell a child that reading can be an enjoyable activity when they never see Mum or Dad doing it. Leaders are readers – so do what you can to show your kids that reading is something you enjoy too. This one is tricky – I know how busy your schedule is. I just try to turn the TV off for an hour on Saturday afternoon and spend time reading. Even though my kids continue to play, they see Dad sitting down and enjoying a book which I believe is just as effective as telling them to do it.
Learning to enjoy reading at a young age is so valuable, and will lay the foundation for how they view it as they get older. I hope you are able to find a way to inspire a love of reading in your family!