Many parents complain that their children say books are boring, they don’t like anything and don’t want to read. A large number of these kids have an underlying reading gap that has been missed as they’ve progressed through the grades. Before I get to that, let’s talk about how to support your kids, reluctant or otherwise, and nudge them to read anyway.
Preschool / Developing Readers and Struggling Readers
I am going to introduce a strategy called ‘Taking a Picture Walk’. This will help your child experience quite a bit about a book before they ever read a word. A picture walk introduces the story as their mind begins to pull up what it knows on the subject, supporting your child. Your child will have exposure to new words they may not know, but will encounter throughout the story.
The book cover :
Use only the pictures
The cover will likely hold many clues to the story - so start here
Characters faces will tell a story
The setting will give your child clues about the plot
Here is your opportunity to build interest in the book
Frequent and thoughtful interpretation of facial expressions will help strengthen your child’s emotional intelligence
Ask your child what the character is thinking and feeling
Turn to the first page, ask your child :
Where are the characters?
What are the characters doing?
What is their problem?
What are the characters feeling?
So many clues are offered in the pictures, asking leading questions helps your child develop this reading strategy.
Page two and beyond :
Ask your child to read each page to you using the pictures only
Close the book, ask your child:
Who are the characters?
What problems are the characters facing?
What are the characters doing?
How do they solve their problem?
What happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story?
Now, read the story together. Taking that Picture Walk supported your child in learning many of the story elements . As you continue reading together, support your child by filling in the words they don’t know. All of the above are reading strategies and skills your children will encounter in school.
Picture Walks are a fantastic way to introduce many books to young and struggling readers. This is one of the ways to help your child develop a love of learning. In turn, your child will want to go back for more books, because reading isn’t so painful now, it’s fun! My favorite classroom poster says it best, reading takes you places to meet new faces.
Elementary and Middle Schoolers
When visiting the library your child is tasked with choosing a book to borrow and read independently. Helping your child to choose a book they can actually read and understand will allow them to build comprehension, and enjoy.
The Five Finger Test (helping your child select books at their independent reading level) :
Once your child selects a book that looks interesting, direct them to turn to the first page or to the back cover. Have your child hold up one finger for each word they don’t know or can’t pronounce. Once they’re holding up three fingers, it may be time to put the book back on the shelf. Five fingers says it will be too difficult for now.
When your child says they don’t like to read, or they tell you it’s boring, it may be the time to read between the lines. An underlying reading struggle may be causing an uneasy feeling. This can contribute to making your child feel like success is not within reach. Adults don’t like to struggle, and neither do children. Don’t make the common mistake of mislabeling a learning problem as a behavior problem.
What to do :
Find a reading specialist who can assess your child in phonics, phonemic awareness, spelling stage, sight word recognition, and comprehension. Let the specialist find the gaps and begin to fill them, allowing your child to take steps forward - no longer avoiding reading, but succeeding!