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Help! My child doesn't want to read!

Motivating reluctant readers - Part 2

If you can cast your memory back to May, I highlighted four strategies that should help begin to motivate your child to read ...

  1. Create a cosy little place especially for reading.

  2. Read to them. Read to them. Read to them.

  3. Tweet an author.

  4. Family reading time

What to say

This is often a tricky one for us parents, as we so often end up saying the wrong thing, upset our kids and skulk away feeling more frustrated.

Reflecting on my own experience, I've realised that it's not so much 'what' I say but 'how' I say it.

A verse in the Bible puts it very well ...

A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15 v1)

Let’s choose to make a difference by the words we use, remembering that words of encouragement and praise can do a huge amount for self-esteem and may well spur your child to read more and boost their confidence in their own ability. Highlight success and celebrate progress.

There are a whole range of reading skills and strategies that you can praise them for.

For newer readers:

· When they spot a new sound that they have just learnt or are learning

· When they have a go at a tricky word.

· When they use picture cues to read a word

· When they start or try to use expression.

For emerging readers:

· When they give considered answers to open questions.

· When they re-read a tricky piece of text instead of skipping it.

· When they clearly notice the punctuation by stopping or pausing in the right places.

· When they have a go at a tricky word.

· When they notice connections in the story or qualities of a certain character.

As for 'what' to say, I'll use my 'cop out' line and say that you parents know your children better than me and know what 'works' for them.

What books will inspire my children to read?

If I knew the exact answer to that question I'd be a wealthy man!

The key to encouraging and inspiring children to read is so often simply finding the right books.

What is it that captures your child’s imagination? From the youngest pre-schoolers hearing stories read to them to those almost ready for the big step to secondary school there’s a book for everyone.

There are of course, the classics for older children such as stories from Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, JK Rowling and CS Lewis, whilst authors such as Julia Donaldson, Jill Murphy and AA Milne are great for younger children.

But that would be doing hundreds of other superb authors a disservice. Get along to your local library or bookshop and ask for advice. Give them an idea what your children like and I'm sure they can find some great books for your children to choose from. Let them have a good look, read a few pages if they can, check out the pictures and make a more informed choice about what they'll read.

Failing that, head on over to The Book Trust website and explore with your children

Rewards - a last resort!

Our goal is to inspire a love of reading, but some children will need more of an incentive to ‘get them over the line’. There are lots of ways to do this. Classic ideas include some kind of sticker chart or ‘marbles in the jar’. When your child has completed a row of stickers or a certain ‘level’ of marbles in the jar (for example, for reading a book or a number of chapters) then you give them the ‘agreed’ reward. The key here being the appropriate level of challenge and a suitable reward. Don’t make it too easy or too hard.

How does it work?

1. Set appropriate tasks or challenges for your child. Here are some examples:

• Read aloud for 10 minutes.

• Read a page every day for a week.

• Read a chapter a day for a week.

• Choose and read a book from the library.

• Read to a younger brother or sister.

2. Decide beforehand (preferably with your child!) how the reward system is going to work. Examples:

• Use a sticker chart and once a certain number of stickers are collected a reward can be given (best agreed upon beforehand!)

• Instead of a sticker chart you could try putting marbles in a jar – jars can be bought online for this very purpose! Once a certain level of marbles has been reached, then a reward can be given. Empty the jar and REPEAT

What kind of rewards can I give? You probably know your child best, but the reward should match the size of the achievement.

In my next Blog, I'll be looking at places to visit that can inspire your children to read.

Until next time ...

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