It happened to me. My kindergartner came home from school and declared, ‘Mommy, I hate reading!’ I cringed. It was a sad moment for me, a lover of literature, a former teacher, a writer. How could my child hate reading? Wasn’t he just born to love it as much as I do? Wasn’t it in his blood? Apparently not. And apparently the strict reading program in my son’s kindergarten class isn’t helping. He complains about boring books, challenging text, too much time spent reading quietly. Sitting for fifteen minutes in silence, ‘reading,’ for a six year old is difficult, indeed. So I knew I had to do something at home to make reading fun again. Here are some ideas I tried that might help you in your quest, too.
Create a Book Nook
One of the first things I did was reevaluate the bookshelves in my son’s room. There were a lot of books, all squashed together on shelves. It was hard for him to see them, let alone choose the one he wanted to read each night. So I put them into baskets on the shelf for easier viewing. I rearranged the shelves, catty-cornered, to create a ‘nook,’ or cozy reading area. I added a beanbag chair and some stuffed animals. It sure looked inviting!
Pick the Right Titles
Many of the books in my son’s room were difficult for him to read on his own. So I organized the titles he could read independently and placed them all in one basket. So now when he needed a book for independent reading, he knew exactly where to go.
I tried to weed out books he found ‘boring’ (even if I really liked them myself…sigh). I stocked the book nook with subjects and stories he enjoyed: volcanoes, robots, Legos. When I was unsure about new titles on the market, I searched sites like GuysRead.com, which helps choose fun titles for boys in particular.
Change Up the Text
Just like your local library or even the video stores of days gone by, I made a spot in the book nook for ‘featured titles.’ Maybe they were new books I wanted him to notice, or holiday themed books he would enjoy. Magazines count as reading, too, so every now and then I featured his favorite Lego Club Magazine or Click . I even took out the coolest pop-up books I could find.
Make a Listening Center
When I was a student, all of the classrooms had ‘listening centers,’ where you could put on a pair of bulky headphones and go listen to a cassette tape (gasp!) with a read-along story. Although this kind of listening center might be extinct, consider creating a new kind in your own home. Use ear buds and attach them to a tablet, laptop or CD player. Purchase apps (check out Scholastic’s Storia) or books on CD for your child to read and listen to. The headphones/earbuds are a necessity for this idea. Your child needs to tune out the world and jump into the book he is reading/listening to.
Creating a love of literature is a process. It takes time and encouragement, but don’t give up. And perhaps you’ll never get your child to love reading, but at least you can squash the ‘I hate it’ bug before it spreads like a virus!
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