5 Things You Can Do to Get Your Child Reading
- Let your child read what they like.
Contrary to common beliefs about what good readers do, assigning the classics (Shakespeare, Orwell, Poe, etc.) doesn’t automatically result in your child becoming a “good” reader. Face it, these writers are literary dinosaurs. Just because you read them in school, doesn’t mean that this NEXT generation of reader should. What makes your child a good reader is consistent practice at the skill of reading. Plain and simple! Increase your child’s contact with text by providing literature your kiddo enjoys. Play attention to authors, genres, and content areas your kid likes, and build your home library from there.
- Woooh there Panther Moms and Panther Dads…Stick to easy reading.
I’m sorry to break it to you strick traditional parents, but statistics don’t lie. The “sink or swim” education philosophy fails more children than it does support learning, and doesn’t motivate them to succeed at reading. Reading at home should be for pleasure. Think about it: reading for pleasure is why good readers read when they aren’t required to. Your child needs to pass time laughing, creating, imagining based on what they are reading in order to ever find pleasure in it. And they can’t do that if they are struggling to read the words. If you catch them warring to “sound out” words, that particular skill is called “decoding”, and a hired SPECIALIST (or reading professional) has the specific skills required to tackle decoding issues/dyslexia. Don’t torture your kids with texts that are too hard for them, and expect it to make them stronger. Instead, let reading serve as a better alternative to being bored, at the very least.
3. Find black literature.
Nurture the text-to-self connection that all good readers need to develop by incorporating more black literature into your child’s library. It’s unfair to expect black children today to connect to texts that aren’t about them, for them, or culturally inclusive of them when there’s just so much out “there”. The more readers make connections while reading, the more they comprehend by building “schema”, or building on prior knowledge. Building schema is fundamental to the learning process. Look here for my list of good literature for black kids organized by genre, age and reading levels.
4. Structured reading time.
A literate home= a literate child. What I tell parents all the time when they come to me worried about their kid’s low reading scores is to expect your child to read as much as he or she sees you read at home. If you increase your reading time, so will Jordan. As adults, we read more for information, but many of us read to relax. Model this by structuring a relaxing time during the day when everybody at home reads. Some good friends of mine read with their child in bed as a calm-down exercise before lights out. Stick to the same time of day for leisurely reading because consistency is key when developing a new habit. Kids beg for consistency. Commit to reading every day at the same time for 10 minutes and watch your child blossom into an independent reading machine over the year.
5. Saturate your home in literature.
Kids are lazy. Just accept it and do the work for them by making avoidance of reading a challenge. If Jason wants a Power Ranger themed room, make some space on his walls for homemade posters about the characteristics of his favorite ranger, book reviews, favorite quotes, religious versus, love letters from mom or dad, etc. Heck—add books, magazines, articles, journals to every room, hallway, table and counter top. Put cool things to read in the bathroom too. And this doesn’t have to be expensive. Print things at home or utilize your local library to have a healthy rotating stock of current good reads. Email your kid something interesting and ask them about it via Whatsapp, FB Messenger, Snapchat or at meal times to make reading purposeful as a plus.