Radical Teaching

Classroom strategies from a neurologist.

Raising Kids Who Want to Read—Even During School Vacations

You can guide your children to the wonderful worlds they can reach through books traveling over the rainbow and deep into the center of the earth. Using their interests, strengths, and talents you can connect them to reading for pleasure, as they simultaneously build reading skills through this painless, argument free reading success cycle. Read More

Such good advice!

This article is packed with great advice…thank you! I have three boys who all love to read. Other parents have asked me how I did this…and about the only thing I can take credit for is setting an example…I love to read!

Since they were babies, we've visited the library every week and joined their reading programs. We've read books aloud, listened to books on CD on long car trips (a particularly happy memory was "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" when I gave them each a stash of candy to eat while we listened. They're still talking about that one some SEVEN years later.

My oldest are in junior high, and going to the library just isn't cool. I have a book basket in the living room, and I visit the library every week or two to keep it stocked with books they might like.

At the end of every day, when we're home, we turn all the gadgets off and have an hour of family reading time. We all grab books and hang out and read together. It started when they were little and has endured all this time…

There are nights when it's impossible because we're getting home late from activities, but on the other nights, it's a really relaxing way to wind down for bed.

This is great reading advice.

This is great reading advice. I followed all these suggestions 15 years ago with my son. However, I am an educator in an extremely economically depressed, rural area where children are poor readers. Most live in single parent homes. Parents work exhausting shifts and hours for minimum wage. Many do not have enough food, clothing, or even electricity or water at times. There is no money in these homes for books. No time for the parent to devote to reading. Many children have parents in jail, many suffer abuse & neglect, many have no transportation to get to the library several miles away. The free lunch % in our district nears 80%, a good indicator of poverty. Children are not receiving the most basic needs. Reading is low on list of priorities. In school, we educators incorporate reading into everything! Many children receive extra reading services. We give books to children as gifts and prizes. We do everything possible to promote reading. But, many students fail because life outside school is so difficult.
These "pockets of poverty" are growing all over this country. We need to fix this first before children can even hope to read. This article works for wealthier intact families. A smaller and smaller % in our nation.

child just doesn't enjoy reading for pleasure

There is a certain guilt as a mom when you have to admit to other parents that your child just doesn't like to read and I wonder sometimes whether it is even necessary to even enjoy reading for pleasure? I keep trying to get my daughter to love reading and wonder if it is worth it or to just let it be.

Of course we read to our daughter and my daughter was sounding out words and spelling at 2.5, reading and writing clearly at 3, and fully reading chapter books by age 4. She is now 5 and has a 4th grade reading level so everybody quips, "Wow, she must really love reading." I see her hesitancy and sometimes she says "No, not really." which is met with shock. She is in a school where it is the culture to see kids curled up with books constantly, but for her there doesn't seem to be much of a draw. She will read non-fiction books on topics she wants to learn about, or newspaper or magazine articles about science, or 40 pages of instructions to build some elaborate structure or learn how to do a craft, but she doesn't choose to read for pleasure. They have silent read time for 30 min in school each day and she almost exclusively chooses non-fiction. I find that when she gets fiction books, she ends up getting bored after a couple chapters and skimming the rest.

There are a couple books that held her attention ( Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe or Harry Potter ) but for the most part, she gets totally disinterested and would rather be doing other things such as puzzles and brain teasers, sewing and crafts, etc. I don't want to force reading at all, but still cannot convince her that reading can be fun in itself and not just as a means to learning more about a topic.

I keep wondering if there are ways to inspire reading in a child like this or is it even worth it? Will she eventually come to it on her own ( or not )?

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Judy Willis, M.D., is a board-certified neurologist and middle school teacher, is an authority on classroom strategies derived from brain research.


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