I would be a very rich woman if I received a nickel from every parent that has said this! The good news is that you are not alone. The bad news is that you are not alone. One of the biggest challenges facing parents and teachers is engaging readers. There are three types of readers: those who love reading, those that hate it, and the rest who will do it, but only if they have to. In my experience, I’ve found that while there are a few kiddos who not only love reading, but choose it over all other leisure activities, the majority of kids fall in the latter group. Researchers have found that reading engagement has consistently dwindled since the dawn of technology. And no, not just since the internet. While the digital age has certainly had an effect on the reading habits of children and adults, researchers have noticed a downward trend for the last 80+ years. Radio, television and other types of interactive hobbies have taken the place of reading for pleasure.
Researchers have found that children and teens who read regulary, outside of school, are more successful in school. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that while the average 17 year old does in deed read more than the average 9 year old, only 51% of high school graduates are prepared for college level reading. Reading habits continue to decline into adulthood, even in college graduates. Experts are clear–we must encourage young children to build the habit of reading.
Tips to engage your reader
- Partner with your child/teen to create a space for reading. This can be a special nook, under table fort, cozy pillows in a corner or closet floor with twinkle lights.
- Allow choice. Kids who choose what they’d like to read are more likely to read for pleasure. It’s okay to set aside literary merit for pure enjoyment.
- Take a book everywhere you go! The entire family should make a habit to travel with books whether they believe they’ll read or not. You never know when you’ll find yourself waiting for something.
- READ! A child who sees reading happening on a regular basis will also find value in reading.
- Visit bookstores or libraries weekly. If you take the time to visit, the value will be implied and internalized.
- Find a book club. The social aspect of a book club motivates even the most reluctant reader to read.
- Consider setting goals for reading. There is nothing wrong with using extrinsic rewards until the intrinsic desire comes.
If you are concerned that your developing reader is struggling to read or expressing animosity towards reading, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. The reading specialists at the literacy lab have many tricks up their sleeves!