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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

37 Ways to Help Kids Learn to Love Reading

37 Ways to Help Kids Learn to Love Reading

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“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

These are powerful words, and they speak to the power of reading to open doors to empathy, adventure, and learning. A love of reading doesn't happen automatically though. It needs to be nurtured and guided until it flourishes into a well-read, well-rounded human being.

That's why we put together a presentation of some of our favorite ways to help kids learn to love reading, gathered from the contributions of Edutopia's educators and parents.

A child reading

As we compiled this presentation, we noticed four major themes:

  • Choice: Children are more likely to read when their interests are taken into account and they have control of how and what to read.
  • Availability: Opportunities to read should be plentiful and books (and other reading material) available in all the places children visit.
  • Safety & Support: Safe, comfortable reading spaces encourage visitors. As do confidence in being able to find the right book and having a reading buddy to read to.
  • Creativity: Reading a book doesn't have to be where the story ends. Kids can have fun creatively expressing what they've read, and they don't have to know that they're also demonstrating their comprehension. :)

You'll find all 37 tips in the presentation below. If you have any tips of your own, share them with us in the comments.

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samsic's picture

these desires of parents and their children coincide, while the use of "force" suggests that they oppose. The desire of the parents is that their children like to read, not only they read. And what children want is to experience the pleasures of reading they heard so much about. The last question reproduced above describes very well the behavior of children who fail to start reading, then they can read: they begin a book, read a few pages, the drop in starting another, and so right now. In doing so, they seek the pleasure of reading but did not meet him. They then think that this is not the right book and look for another, which does not satisfy either. They do so because they believe that the pleasure of reading will suddenly appear, like magic. But the magic has nothing to do with learning; gradually, they get tired of trying, believe they have no chance or that they are different from others-those to whom the pleasure of reading was Give, and end up turning away from books reading.
During one of my research, I found that all children enjoy reading EC1 strongly desire. When they get older, we see that some of them can not. What for ? Because they do not know what to do for it. In particular, they do not understand that just after learning to read, they must force themselves to read a lot, so that it soon becomes easier. This, parents can explain it to them. Their advisor, even to speak with other children, who love to read, as they can tell them how they did it.

samsic's picture

L'amour de la lecture, ca s'apprend !

"Je n'ai jamais eu de chagrin qu'une heure de lecture n'est dissipe".
Cette citation de Montesquieu suffirait-elle pour declencher l'envie de lire ? Certainement. A condition toutefois qu'en amont tout soit fait pour que cet acte convoque le plaisir. Celui-ci passe par un apprentissage, aise pour certains, plus difficile pour d'autres...

Prendre conscience que cette merveilleuse invention qu'est l'imprimerie a permis l'appropriation par le plus grand nombre d'un savoir jusque-la reserve a une elite est un premier pas pour que les livres deviennent de veritables amis. Que ce soit pour se cultiver ou se detendre, on n'est effectivement jamais seul lorsque l'on lit !

Respecter la bonne periode d'apprentissage

Les pedagogues ont compris qu'il ne sert a rien de forcer les choses. La lecture doit relever d'un desir et non d'un devoir. Aussi est-il important de donner du sens a l'acte meme de lire. Il s'agit veritablement de faire en sorte que le futur lecteur puisse comprendre qu'il a tout a y gagner. Psychanalystes et psychologues viennent etayer cette conception. Si la classe de CP reste celle de l'apprentissage de la lecture et accueille des enfants ayant 6 ans au cours de l'annee scolaire, la maturite psychologique ne suit pas toujours. La fourchette se situe plutot entre la 5eme et la 7eme annee, ce qui correspond au cycle II de l'ecole primaire incluant la Grande Section de maternelle, le CP et le CE1... Malheureusement dans l'inconscient collectif, le fameux cours preparatoire reste encore la classe dans laquelle on doit apprendre a lire. Ce qui est dommageable et pose un deni sur le developpement psychique de l'enfant. Dans cette meme classe du CP, un enfant ne le 31 decembre et un autre ne le 1er janvier de l'annee suivante, malgre leurs 12 mois d'ecart -ce qui est considerable au niveau d'une maturite psychologique- ne peuvent en aucun cas posseder des pre-requis identiques quant a cet apprentissage dont decoulera leur approche futur du livre. Dedramatiser et relativiser les pseudo-echecs dans ce domaine est donc la premiere attitude a avoir pour qu'un veritable traumatisme ne vienne pas barrer la route au plaisir.
Diversifier les lectures

La personnalite du petit d'Homme se construisant grace a des identifications successives, le comportement des parents eux-memes face aux livres et leurs gouts pour la lecture prend une importance particuliere... Lire regulierement une histoire ou un conte au tout-petit avant qu'il sache meme dechiffrer les mysterieux signes graphiques fait naitre en lui une saine curiosite : Qu'est-ce que tu lis ? Montre-moi... Lorsque le sujet le permet, il est possible d'enrichir, grace au livre, la communication. Plus tard, l'amour de la lecture se partagera d'autant mieux et c'est d'ailleurs la tout son sens. J'ai aime ! Ou au contraire Je n'ai pas aime ! L'adulte de demander alors : Pourquoi ? Qu'est-ce qui ne t'a pas plu ? Un simple ouvrage se revele parfois etre le point de depart d'une communication de tres grande qualite. La diversite des lectures joue aussi un role important : romans, BD, documents, biographies, ouvrages de sciences humaines, de spiritualite, albums photographiques, recueils de poemes, livres de recettes. Plus la bibliotheque sera diversifiee, plus le gout va s'affiner... Le philosophe Michel de Montaigne a consacre un texte de ses celebres << Essais >> a sa bibliotheque qu'il nommait << Ma librairie >>. Ce grand liseur y decrit avec amour ce lieu privilegie dans lequel il aimait frequenter ses amis les livres : La je feuillette a cette heure un livre, a cette heure un autre, sans ordre et sans dessein, a pieces decousues. Tantot je reve ; tantot j'enregistre et dicte, en me promenant, mes songes que voici. Les livres possedent ce pouvoir de faire rever, d'apprendre, et pourquoi pas, d'inciter a l'ecriture...
A l'heure du numerique

Si le support papier garde sa noblesse et n'est pas en passe de disparaitre - temoins les nombreux Salons du livre -, une nouvelle porte s'est ouverte avec Internet. Surfer sur le Net pour trouver la maison d'edition ou se trouve l'ouvrage recherche, la boutique de livres esoteriques, ou encore le livre numerique que l'on peut telecharger sur son ordinateur, voila un avantage non negligeable - meme si l'on reside loin de tout centre culturel - de la technologie du numerique. Paradoxalement, la pratique de l'ordinateur donne au gout de lire une impulsion de plus. Blogs et sites proposent des lectures et des forums permettant d'echanger des idees a propos d'un ouvrage, d'un auteur. On peut y acquerir pour un prix raisonnable et parfois gratuitement des chapitres, voire des ouvrages entiers. Meme la Bible, ce best-seller inegale, est consultable sur le Net. L'amour de la lecture, contrairement a ce qui peut etre vehicule, n'est donc pas pres d'etre detrone !

Bob Hyneman's picture

That makes perfect sense. There is a LOT an educator can do to teach a child to read, but it is those bonding moments with parents and grandparents that are most likely to teach a child to enjoy reading.

Footnote:
As an adult I re-leaned to love reading largely because I kept hearing people say "the book is better than the film."

stewart12's picture

Does this work for all ages and grade? my kindergartners love to ride and when I allow them to read to the class.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

@stewart12: which practice are you asking about? It's hard to tell from your comment, and I'd like to respond if I can.

samsic's picture

Ways to Help Kids Learn to Love Reading
Why love reading
Reading is a skill that was taught in school, with some difficulties for some.
With this skill we have access to all the knowledge and information regardless of its format (paper or electronic).
At the same time this activity "necessary" is not necessarily a pleasure and can become a constraint for some as has long been the case for me.

And what a feeling of exclusion from not knowing our classics or the specifics of a particular author, when meeting, which is quite common, an informed reader.

You can quickly get the impression of being uneducated in such circumstances.

We imagine then that one day take pleasure in reading, as some people take pleasure in sports or cooking, as in nature, although we do what we love.

It even comes in a dream intelligence "superior" reserved for big players, because the reading of certain works may allow insights and make possible changes noticeable behaviors.

"There are really only two things that can change a human being:

a love or reading a great book. "

Step 1: Drive Model

This is the starting point that will help you engage the dynamics and maintain motivation.

You need to find a personality or loved one who inspires you, who loves to read and therefore is "a great player."

Log in to it and feel the satisfaction of becoming your turn "a big player" with all the benefits associated with it.

In case of difficulty for all that follows, simply return to this display.

Let them know of your "love dice" for reading and your willingness to remedy with his help and experience.

Then ask him to choose according to your personality, your interests first book which could really excite you.

Buy this book or do it you pay, then ... Begin to read it.

After the first 10 or 20 pages, made a return to your friend (e), that he (or she) understands what you perceive, feel.

See with he (or she) should continue with this book.

If so, make a return every 50 new pages to your friend (e) of what you think and how you feel.

At the end of the book, do a full assessment with your friend (e) and ask him, the strength of this experience, recommend a new book ...

By thus continuing on, your friend (s) will guide you through this literary education.

You will discover a great pleasure and satisfaction!

Step 2: benevolent friend

You also need to find a friend (e) caring (e), large (e) drive (ess) who will take care of your "literary education".

It is he or she will be the cornerstone of your transformation into a great lover of reading.

"Reading is a friendship. "

Step 3: Peaceful Area

This simple step is the finishing touch that will help put you in a "predisposition" perfect for reading.

The idea is to find, at home or elsewhere, a peaceful place, quiet and comfortable where you feel good.

Log on then as your "reading personal space", where you will find every time you want to read.

Besides, your current book will be easily accessible.

In this peaceful place, time will be suspended throughout your reading and inner turmoil as external fades.

Even those around you will understand that this is a special place where it should not bother you.

Naturally, you will associate this space for your reading pleasure!

And you aurezprogressivement increasingly want to give you some pleasant minutes of reading.

mrsbeers's picture
mrsbeers
6th Grade Language Arts Teacher

Great list of ideas! My favorite tool not mentioned here is Reader's Theater. I find it invaluable for promoting engagement, comprehension and fluency.

(1)
John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct faculty Antioch University New England, former Elementary Principal

mrsbeers, I totally agree. The repeated reading helps fluency and of course the parts can be assigned based on ability. That being said, I have found that giving a big part to a less confident reader can go a long ways to improve confidence- as long as I support them in the initial readings by pre-teaching the text. The additional benefit from reader's theater is that it help those who are nervous in front of groups, or in performances, learn to become more confident.

(1)
Joy Vega's picture
Joy Vega
Literacy Coach

Choice is so simple, but is so often lacking. It is a critical element to take reading from work to fun!

samsic's picture

And not just at bedtime. Buy board books and cloth books as some of your child's first toys. Carry them around with snacks in the diaper bag. Create "cozy time," a ritual of connection in which you both associate love and cuddling with reading. Any time either of you needs a break, grab a book and read to your child. Post tantrum, during lunch, after school, while you have your coffee on Sunday, any time can be cozy time

by the time your child is two and she may well prefer reading to any other activity. Use the time in the library to read to your child as well as to select books. My kids would never sit still at library "story times," but if your child likes them, by all means go. Write down the names of the books you check out if your library can't give you a printout, so you can keep track of returning them on time. Keep library books on a separate shelf in the living room or kitchen so you don't lose them, and so you can always easily find something new to read. (If you don't take them out of the house, you won't lose them.)

Supervising a toddler and perusing bookshelves is always a challenge; it helps if you can develop a list of authors and books so you can find good ones easily. Librarians usually have a list of favorite books for various ages, and other parents and kids are always a good source of suggestions. Find some series you like and share your child's excitement when you find another book by a beloved author.

I found that before my children could really participate in meals, reading to them during lunch or an early dinner (when the other parent isn't yet home from work) entertained them enough to keep them sitting. They were much more likely to try the foods I put in front of them with my company and the diversion of a book, than if I let them sit in the high chair or at the kitchen table to eat while I cooked. This is very different from putting kids in front of a screen while they eat. Then, they stare at the screen as they unconsciously put things in their mouth. Being read to is more like listening to the radio; they can look at their food and savor it as they listen, glancing occasionally at the pictures you hold up.

Most children learn to read naturally once they develop the preliminary skills. Your goal is not to help him sound out words, but to encourage a love of books, both pictures and stories. Teaching him to read may take all the fun out of reading. If you push him, he'll feel put on the spot, and he'll feel dumb. That feeling will last his whole life, and it won't help him like reading.

Some very smart children don't learn to read until they're over seven years old. Don't worry. They'll quickly catch up with those who started at four or five. I know two children who were reading at 3 years old and at 6 years old, respectively. They are both now 9, and in the fourth grade. They both read at about an eighth grade reading level. The only difference is that the early reader feels insecure about no longer being "special," and often acts obnoxiously superior to other kids. There is absolutely no benefit to pushing your child to read "early," and there are many drawbacks. (Should you stop her from teaching herself to read? Of course not. I'm just saying not to push it and not to make it your child's claim to fame, because sooner or later everyone else will catch up. It's a bit like whether a child learns to walk at nine months or 16 months. Who cares?)

If you notice that your child seems to have a hard time recognizing letters, or confuses letters, or can't sound out words, or can't recognize words that he has seen many times before, it is possible that he has a learning difference such as dyslexia. Discuss your concern with your child's school and ask to speak to their learning specialist, who should be experienced in diagnosis and early intervention.

Read to him every step of the way, for as long as he'll let you. Continuing to read to him will keep him interested as his skills develop. And it gives you lots of fodder for conversations about values and choices.

Parents often complain that their early readers CAN read, but just don't seem interested in doing so. Most kids go through this stage, but you can help to keep it a brief one. The child's problem, of course, is that he can read simple books, but his imagination craves more developed plots and characters. Those books are agonizing work, with too many words he doesn't know, and the labor distracts him from the story. He needs his parents to keep reading to him, to keep him fascinated with the secrets of books and motivated to become a proficient reader.

At this vulnerable stage, it is well worth the extra time to track down books he can read and will find exciting. Picture books with lots of words work well, since he can use the pictures to help him stay interested and figure out the words. Soon, through his work in school, as well as the books he picks up at home, his reading skills will catch up with his appetite for books. Within a few months, he'll be able to handle simple chapter books. At that point, look for series books, which often lure kids on to the next book and the next.

Set up a "cozy reading time" every day. This can be a perfect chill-out time after school, or after lunch in the summer, or a wind-down time at the end of the evening. It's amazing how motivated kids are to read if this allows them to stay up a little later. We negotiated a half hour later bedtime that our first graders were ready for anyway, as long as it was spent in bed reading a book.

Some six year olds are just so tired by the end of the day, however, that reading is simply too much work for them then. Until your child is ready for bedtime reading, try setting up his cozy reading time while you make dinner, after homework is done. The only downside to this is that you'll need to scrape out a half hour to start him off at what is probably your busiest time of the day.

Pick a book she can read, but that is a bit harder than she might choose on her own -- a simple chapter book, rather than a picture book, for example. Read together until you have to answer the phone or start dinner, but a minimum of a quarter of the book, so your child is hooked. Then tell her it's time for her read-alone time. It's her choice. Does she want to keep reading the book you've just gotten her into, or read something else? Most kids grab the book and finish it themselves. (If she doesn't, you may need to drop back a level to a slightly simpler book.) Keep choosing engrossing, slightly harder books.
..during your read-aloud time. But if he stumbles, supply the word. Don't make him stop and sound things out; your goal is to keep him excited about the book by moving forward with the story. I recommend this only for limited periods of time - it tires kids out -- and I recommend that you not be rigid about enforcing your child's participation (in other words, have them do every third page, or fourth). If you take the fun out of reading with him, you've done more harm than good.

Some kids get a terrific jump start from comics, which are less intimidating to them than chapter books. Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes and the Tin Tin series, for instance, are kid pleasers with sophisticated vocabulary and concepts.

I know she can read anything herself now. But why give up such an important time to connect with each other emotionally? Why give up the chance to read books that trigger good discussions about values and choices and hardships and hope? Don't stop till she fires you. My fourteen year old can read physics books I can't fathom, but he still lets me read history or politics to him occasionally. The best part for both of us is then talking about what we've read.

Role model. If they don't see you read, why should they? Discuss what you're all reading at the dinner table. Institutionalize family reading time, when a parent reads to the whole family. As kids get older, they can take over the role of reader, or the book can be passed around the circle.

There is no way a book can compete with TV or computer. Most kids, given the choice, just won't choose the book often enough to make it a habit. Before you know it, they'll have developed other habits for relaxing, and reading will be something other people do. Limiting or even banning screen usage until reading is well-established may be the most important thing you can do to encourage reading. Click here for more on why TV compromises academics.

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