Reluctant reader in your house? Tips for improving reading without opening a book.

Do you have a child who struggles with reading or one who doesn’t enjoy reading? These hints may help that reader improve their skills and make reading more enjoyable.

I love to read and grew up in a family of readers. My parents read to us and made sure introduced us to the library at a very young age. My grandma was instrumental in starting the first library in town, my mom was on the library board for 25 years and I am a current member of the board. I have been known to give books and a library card as a baby shower gift. To say my family loves to read is an understatement, but I know not everyone enjoys it as much as we do. Reading may not be a problem for me, but for many it is a chore to be endured because it’s required in school. It’s vitally important in everyday life to be able to read. The following tips from Michigan State University Extension may take some of the sting out of improving skills.

Reading can take place anywhere and there is a wealth of reading materials all around, don’t limit your reading to books. Try these tips to make your child a reader:

  1. Focus on your child’s interests when looking for books at the library or for gifts.
  2. Street signs, road signs, store signs and bill boards are opportunities for your child to practice reading.
  3. Put your young reader to work in the grocery aisles. Before you get there, read the grocery list together and ask your child to find and read ads in the newspaper.
  4. Use social media as a tool to improve skills. Enlist family members to help by sending messages and asking for a reply.
  5. Don’t forget the seemingly old-fashioned letter. Again, ask friends and family to write and send a post card or short letter for your child. Grandparents may be especially happy to receive a card or letter written by a grandchild, and when they know the reason behind it, can contribute long distance to a child’s learning. Grandparents also appreciate thank you notes.
  6. Are you a list creator? Ask your child to be your assistant and write your lists. Reading the list back to you will help reading skills and make sure you haven’t left anything off that to-do list.
  7. Do you have a stash of old comic books? Who doesn’t like to read about super heroes or a group of teens solving a mystery?
  8. Don’t forget recipe books! The kitchen can provide many opportunities for reading. Reading the directions on the back of a box doesn’t seem like such a chore when it results in a favorite dish.
  9. Menus provide a lot of reading. If you’re in a restaurant use the menu for a few minutes of practice. If you are creating a menu at home, you can also include your young readers in this activity.
  10.  Reading to younger siblings is non-threatening because they won’t necessarily recognize mispronunciations; they’ll just be thrilled to be read to by their older brother or sister.

Guidelines for implementing these tips include:

  • Not interrupting when your child is reading. The more we interrupt the more uncomfortable the child becomes and may give up. If they ask for help with a word, help them figure it out.
  • Never, ever laugh. A child who is made fun-of will quickly stop trying.
  • Don’t ask your child to slow down or speed up their reading, eventually they will hit their stride.

How will they ever learn if we don’t correct them? They will learn through adult (parents and teachers) modeling, by listening to other children at school and through practice. As skills are strengthened your child will realize mistakes and correct them on their own. The goal is to make your child comfortable with reading. The prize will be a lifelong love of reading for entertainment and knowledge.

For more information regarding reading, talk with your child’s teacher and your local librarian, both may have great ideas for you to implement at home. You can also find more through MSU Extension and Reading Rockets, both online resources.

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