It may be because I am a reader and because I love to write that I instilled a love of reading into my own child. I didn’t actually teach my child to read per se, I just allowed reading to be a part of our lives.
Teach your child to read by example. Start young by reading to them. Have un-rushed time together every night reading a book or a chapter. Practice patience when asked to read the same book over and over again – night after night, and you’ll have a reader too.
Obviously you already know the value of reading. Maybe you’ve even read some reports and research on the reading child vs. the non-literate child. But I’ll give you my opinion based on raising one child and interacting with many through my years of volunteering at the school, hanging out with my friends’ children, and even taking a few troubled or estranged teens into my home over the past 18 years.
If you teach your child to read they will grow to be more interesting, more interested in life, more enlightened, and more capable of coping as an adult.
At the present time I have two teenagers under my roof. One is an avid reader – she loves novels, training materials for her vocation, magazine articles, and has been known to read some of my spiritual books as well. The other despises reading – she was put into bed every night from the age of six with a Disney movie playing on her bedroom television. (If you are at all socially-conscious or responsible that last sentence should make you sick to your stomach. What kind of parent does such a thing?)
The child that loves to read was managing the operation of a small town, high end, retail clothing store nearly single-handedly when she just 14 years old. She would open and close the shop herself, handle all daily financial transactions including bank deposits, and often made ordering decisions for the next season’s line of clothing.
The child that loathes reading has only a basic command of the English language (she certainly doesn’t know any mildly obscure words), and is intimidated by change and challenges.
It is important to note here that both teens have the same capacity for understanding new concepts and they get similar grades in school. But with that and all other things being equal you can surely see who has the brighter future with less stress and more opportunities and confidence, can’t you?
So now, if you have missed the young years to instill that love of reading in your child and you now yearn to catch up, here are some leading tips to teach a child to read.
Please have patience with your child. If he has never been read to nor seldom sees you reading, he’s not likely to be the least bit interested in reading himself just because you deem it time to learn. Learning to read can be challenging for some children yet all the adults in his life are anxiously awaiting his command of the printed word. All this pressure and expectation put a damper on the joy of reading for some children.
Games That Help to Teach Reading
Take A Turn Reading
This is a fun way for a child to be able to read the words he/she knows and take a pass on words that are too difficult. While reading with your child, choose a new word every day as your ‘take-a-pass’ word. Allow your child to read most of the book out loud but when he has tired or can’t read a particular word he gets to say the ‘take-a-pass’ word and then you read for a while.
You could pair up your new reader with an older reading pal. Together they read a book out loud together once a day or more often if they like. This certainly works best when it is spontaneous time together such as with a sibling or grandparent but it does give your child the opportunity to practice reading without the pressure of disappointing a disapproving mother or teacher.
The books that you might have read to him last year are great for this fun game. Give your child a highlighter and have him highlight every word throughout the book that he can already read. Next, go through the book together and talk about those words as well as the ones he didn’t think he knew. Once he realizes that he knows more words then he thought he did, let him highlight those as well.
Children, especially boys, love to feel like they’re getting one over on their parents. Let them read books under the covers with flashlights if they want to! Almost every great man or writer that I’ve read about has fond memories of reading by flashlight under the covers.
New Book Detectives
Did you just buy him some new illustrated story books or have some handed down to you? Sit down together and have him flip through the book, looking only at the pictures. Ask him to tell you what he thinks is going to happen in the story, then read the story and see how close he was.
Sometimes all it takes to make reading fun is some imagination and time spent together!