Thursday, February 11, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Encouragement

For more Booking Through Thursday responses, click here.

Suggested by Barbara H:

How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?

In the book Gifted Hands by brilliant surgeon Ben Carson, one of the things that turned his life around was his mother’s requirement that he and his brother read books and write book reports for her. That approach worked with him, but I have been afraid to try it. My children don’t need to “turn their lives around,” but they would gain so much from reading and I think they would enjoy it so much if they would just stop telling themselves, “I just don’t like to read.”
I think that, in order to encourage a reluctant reader, you have to make reading a major part of the home environment. Leave books all around the house, especially books that might be interesting to that child. Talk about books at the dinner table. Take weekly trips to the library or bookstore. Turn off the TV and computers for a certain amount of time each night and have the whole family read. For a really reluctant reader, get him/her engaged by reading books featuring favorite TV or movie characters (They're everywhere!) or read a book as a family and then watch the movie so you can talk about the differences. This last trick works really well with longer books such as the Harry Potter or Narnia series.

Personally, I think it's dangerous to force a reluctant reader to read. The likelihood that s/he will become resentful of reading as something that's forced is pretty high. It's a rare child who will be forced to read and then take off with it on his/her own. Instead, show the child how much fun reading can be. That'll speak volumes.
What do you think? How would you encourage a reluctant reader?


Anonymous said...

I think a big part of it is sewing the seeds early for a love of reading.

And, like you said, you have to make reading fun for the kids and young adults. If they don't enjoy it, they won't do it.

I do think that as a parent or adult you have a responsibility to be aware of age appropriate mateiral, but other than that you shouldn't set a list of what can and can't be read.

max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Butler Adventure Series - is coming out in June.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson

Lori said...

Their freinds and bribery worked for me, perhaps a bit of timing as well. Here's Mine

Jennifer said...

I agree. My children have been read to since they were babies, became early readers and the passion has stayed with them into their teens. We are not a telly watching family and we do not own any gaming systems. My teens love bookstores and libraries and request books as gifts. My full BTT:

Alayne said...

I definitely agree, you shouldn't force reading as it is likely to make them resentful. Nice answer.

I've posted a Valentines related question at The Crowded Leaf if you're interested.

tweezle said...

You are so right about the forcing issue. Great answer.

I had to deal with this with my oldest child.
Here's my response.

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

You definitely have to prime the pump early on.

Here is mine

Michelle Skamene said...

Forcing never worked for us. But we are all for giving the kids incentives! I have found that sometimes a little incentive is all that it takes to actually get my kids sitting down and starting a book. Once they get into it, the incentive is (almost!!!) forgotten. The key is choosing the right book, too. There are great books for reluctant readers.
You are welcome to visit at , which also HAPPENS to be a (free) online reading incentive program for kids. It's a lot of fun, and it works! I have also been busy compiling lists of book suggestions based on age, the result is a nice page where you can choose the age of the child, and gets book suggestions (you can also restrict the results based on who is recommending...).
Happy Reading!

Jenners said...

I think you have to show how much you love reading yourself, provide books of all types, never deny them a book they are interested in and then just let it happen. Plus making sure truly "magical"books like Harry Potter get into their hands at an early and appropriate age will help them to develop that love of reading that only a good book can bring.

I do think sharing reading when they are young will help them want to read more when they are older. But I do agree with you, if you force it too much, you might breed resentment rather than love.

Jennifer G. said...

Books based on favorite characters or shows are a great idea!

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