As a child I was a voracious reader. I was on chapter books by about five or six and I was hooked. I was never without a book – I belonged to all the libraries (although I was terrible at returning my books) and I struck up relationships with bookshop owners along the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I had my own chair at the second hand book shop I went to every day after school from the ages of eight to 10 – I was allowed to read in the store and they always swapped my books for me. On average I would read one book every afternoon, sometimes two.
This post is in collaboration with ABC Reading Eggs
Later, when I moved schools, I established a relationship with the owner of the bookshop down the road from my new school. Her shop sold new books but she let me go in every afternoon and sit in the kids section and read a book, I knew how to read without cracking the spine or making the book look read and my parents had long since cut off the supply of The Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High because I read them in thirty minutes.
Years later, my son was exactly the same as me, so when my daughter started school and we discovered she wasn’t an avid reader like the rest of us, we weren’t really sure how to approach it. It was pre internet, where all this help is available, and it was a hard slog. She still doesn’t love reading and she’s 18.
Tully, my third child, is now in her second year of school and she’s not taking to reading as fast as I hoped. She loves us to read to her and she loves audio books but it just doesn’t seem like reading has quite clicked for her.
I’m anxious to get on top of the reading before it becomes an issue so I have asked my friend Lisa, who is a primary school teacher with a post grad in Learning Support, to share with all of us, the five ways we can help our reluctant readers.
5 ways you can help your reluctant reader
Read for fun
School readers are important for learning specific reading skills but they are not fun! They serve a purpose but they will never get a child to love reading. If you want your child to love reading then find the book that clicks for them. Many reluctant readers may have trouble visualising the story, so they may connect with books that have a graphic novel element as well as text. Books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Treehouse series and Timmy Failure, help kids connect the words with the pictures and help build a story. Look for something they can relate to and that they are interested in.
Read to your kids
Reading to your kids doesn’t stop when they learn to read. It’s important to keep reading to them for as long as possible, even to your 10 and 11 year olds if they aren’t reading proficiently on their own yet. Listening comprehension underpins reading comprehension, so ask your child about the content of the book while you’re reading. Ask open ended ‘why’ questions, rather than yes or no questions as this will teach your child to analyse what they are hearing.
Teacher Librarian Megan Daley, author of Raising Readers, suggests asking some of the following questions:
Can you find the author’s name on the cover?
What is your favourite illustration? Why?
What did you like or dislike about the book?
What part of the story was the most exciting or interesting?
Which character was your favourite? Why?
How did the book make you feel? Was it a happy book? a bit scary? An adventure?
Who is telling the story?
Can you retell the story?
It’s important that you read to your child and they read to you on a daily basis. Read together at bedtime, taking turns to read pages and discuss the story. Modelling good reading behaviour will also help encourage your child to read. Make time for family reading - as a society we have put a lot of emphasis on making time for exercise and sport, but we need to put the same importance on reading.
ABC Reading Eggs
ABC Reading Eggs is an award-winning online program that makes learning to read easy and fun for kids aged 2–13. A phonics and literacy program, it includes hundreds of one-on-one reading lessons that teach children essential early literacy skills, including phonics and sight word recognition. These lessons and programs can be used by parents and schools.
Based on scientific research and the most up-to-date learning principles, ABC Reading Eggs is an excellent tool for reluctant readers as it gives children control over their learning pace and they feel a sense of responsibility and autonomy in their learning. It is rewards based and this, plus its immediate results, make it highly motivating. It tests each student frequently so it matches your child's ability and is never too easy or too hard
Taking the format of a game, Reading Eggs teaches kids phonics, which is the relationship between the letter and the sound it makes. It helps kids crack the reading code, because understanding phonics is key to being a confident reader.
We use ABC Reading Eggs a lot at home. Tully thinks it’s a reward for once she’s finished her homework, and it’s also great to do on long car trips as it’s an app as well as a website. It’s self-guided and vary rarely requires any assistance from me, which is a bonus!
Have your child read a variety of things
Reading isn’t just about books. It’s important that your child understand that reading is essential in all areas of life. Maybe they don’t want to curl up with a novel but being able to read and comprehend is a life skill. So don’t just focus on reading books, there are so many other things.
Read road signs in the car
Talk with them about how the signs tell us what’s happening on the road and how far it is to various locations.
Look at newspaper and magazine articles
Show your kids how newspapers and magazines tell us what is happening around the world. Pick some kid friendly articles and then get them to read and discuss them. News articles are great for developing comprehension skills.
Procedural reading like recipes and instructions
Having your child read recipes in the kitchen shows them a real time need for reading. Instructional reading helps your child comprehend instructions and put actions in order. Reading manuals, game rules, instructions, recipes - all these things may appeal to kids who are busy and enjoy working with their hands.
Joke books are perfect for the unwilling reader. Kids love jokes and they help with comprehension because you need to understand the background knowledge and context to get the joke. Get them to write their own jokes too!
Play games that encourage reading
Free play and literacy development go hand in hand, according to Megan Daley of Raising Readers. She points out that today’s children are so scheduled that they are losing their free play time. Kids playing ‘shops’ or ‘schools’ will have them play writing and reading without even realising they are learning.
There are a number of literacy games that you can play with your kids as well. The car is a great place to play word games like I Spy, Rhyming Words and learning to blend words.
Start with younger kids using words starting with sounds rather than letters. ‘Spying’ something with the sound of a word at the start begins to build phonic recognition. Once kids are older you can start using the letter instead of the sound.
Rhyming is a great way to help your child learn word relationships. You can play this endlessly and it helps kids learn the difference between real words and made up words. We like to talk about what some of the words mean as well as we go.
Breaking words up into ‘Robot talk’ means that kids learn to blend their words, which helps with sounding out words. Think about how when you speak as a ‘robot’ you break up the words - “He-llo, I am a ro-bot’. Get the kids to tell you what you are saying.
If you would like a free 4 week trial of ABC Reading Eggs head to https://readingeggs.com.au/stuff/
Your trial will include access to ABC Reading Eggs Junior, the most comprehensive learning program for toddlers aged 2–4, ABC Reading Eggs for ages 3–7, and ABC Reading Eggspress for ages 7–13. There is also a maths program, ABC Mathseeds, which makes maths fun for ages 3–9.