This week I’ll be part of a 5 Days of Summer Series and I’m talking about 5 Days of Summer Reading. Each post comes with recommendations for how to choose good books, tips to encourage a love of books, and ideas for how to enjoy reading as a whole family–as well as a book list, so be sure to check them all out!
I’ve been writing about summer reading for the young family all week. Be sure to go back and read through the series–there are are tips, recommendations, and book lists for you to check out. I focused on stuff we love that’s not as common or usually included in standard book lists.
Do you have a youngster that just doesn’t seem to be bitten by the book-bug? Reading doesn’t come easy for them. Maybe they struggle with the mechanics of it and are a little behind? Maybe they don’t have the patience or attention span to stick with a book to the end–especially books without pictures! Maybe they can’t seem to find anything they like to read and certainly never choose reading if given a choice…
This is our Ladybug right now–and as a self-confessed (and shelf-space proven!) bookworm, this is so hard for me to comprehend! I’m not a professional teacher or tutor, so I’ll save you a discussion of the ins and outs of reading development. And you wouldn’t have stuck with this series this long if you didn’t also understand the fathomless value of reading for children, so I’ll save you a bullet list of why I want my children to love reading.
Let me just note some things that are working for us as we travel through this stage the last couple years to keep the love of books alive.
Address Existing Ability Problems
- Is there a problem with the mechanics of reading? If yes (like in our case) get some help. The Ladybug has a tutor and we know that we have to put extra effort into narrative-based school work like English and History.
- Is there a problem with attention span? If yes (like in our case) get some help. There are tons of tips for teaching children that struggle with attention span on the internet (this is one way the homeschool community has been a HUGE help to me!) and most experienced teachers and tutors have ideas too.
- Is there a problem with desire? Honestly, I think this stems mostly from #1 and #2 and just choosing poor reading materials.
Don’t Allow Discouragement!
Don’t allow discouraging thoughts or words in your heart or from your child. I don’t believe in empty compliments and dishonest praise, but even when they are struggling you can replace “I can’t do this!” with “I’m really struggling with this.” Or “I’m no good at this!” with “This is not my best area.”
Give Honest Encouragement!
- Find ways to value and reward effort, as well as results.
- Pray with your child about their struggles, about giving their frustrations over to God. Let them ask Him for help, dig down and find things to be grateful for, and bask in His great love and acceptance regardless of their limitations.
- Praise their other talents and gifts and give them time to explore other interests and abilities!
Give Reading Tools and Resources!
- Make sure books for all learning levels are available.
- Make sure books for their interests are available.
- Make sure you have illustrated books–they’re more engaging for struggling readers.
- We found Leapfrog TAG readers to be a HUGE tool to encourage the kids to dive into books independently.
- eReaders/Tablets can also be a great resource–our kids love the chance to use electronics (of course, part of their value is not being saturated in them) and a lot of the books include a read-to-me or read-by-myself option. It’s great to let them listen once, then read independently.
- Use well-chosen adaptions to introduce more complicated story lines. (We highly recommend Sterling Classic Starts. The Ladybug has responded well to the format, size and shape of the books and the narrative is true to the original story.)
- Use well-chosen movies to foster an interest in particular stories or introduce more complex story lines before reading them.
- Use graphic readers and comic-book-style adaptions to engage visual interest. We’re big fans of the Graphic History Series for younger readers and the Zenith Graphic History series for older readers. Classics Illustrated is another good choice if you’re looking for literary studies rather than history and science.
- Use magazines, sticker books and coloring books, cookbooks, any sources of words that might capture their attention and use those as tools to improve their skills. Nothing motivates a reader like needing to understand the construction directions or recipe!
Help Them Love Books Anyway!
- Keep buying them books.
- Keep taking them to the bookstore and library.
- Give them bookshelves in their rooms.
- Let them stay up late with books and book lights on the weekends to read.
- Keep reading to them and with them.
- Keep hunting for books (or other reading material!) that interest them.
- Keep reading in front of them, talking about how much you love reading, and let them see how valuable books are to you.
Don’t Assume that Reading and Comprehension are Linked
The Ladybug struggles with the mechanics of reading and grammar, she does not struggle with comprehension or verbal expression. (Which made her struggles all the more confusing at first, but that’s another post!) By continuing to read out loud to her, she continues to develop a love of storytelling as well as learning vocabulary and grammar from solid literature.
Don’t Assume that Independent Reading and Love of Books are Linked
The Ladybug is a reluctant, struggling independent reader–but she loves books and loves family read-aloud time. She has shelves full of books and is never discouraged to buy or carry a book with her that’s too big or too advanced. If it looks interesting, she’ll pick it up. One day she’ll get there, and it will be waiting for her.
And the biggest thing that works for us?
Accept Where They are and Let Them Grow at Their Own Pace!
We let the Ladybug read below grade/age level independently and we read to her or with her for at-and-above grade level books. This encourages her to keep practicing, avoids the cycle of struggle and frustration, and still gives her the benefits of reading great books. We let her read storybooks to her brothers because it re-enforces that reading is valuable and builds her confidence because she can do it. We let her read Step 3 and 4 and 5 readers because they are colorful, engaging, and short enough to keep her attention to the end so she feels the accomplishment of completing a whole book.
Pressuring her to catch up or keep up simply takes the joy out of it. We want to feed the joy! That’s what will keep her going until it clicks and her skill catching up with her interest.
Do you have a struggling reader? Any tips or great resources to share?