By George Mears
For many kids, reading is a fun way to pass time. But for others, opening a book is the equivalent of an hour of boring chores. If it’s not entertaining, many children find their minds wandering, which can take all the fun out of a good story.
There are many reasons kids dislike reading. Some would rather be active—they don’t want to sit still for the time it takes to get into a book. For others, the issue is a lack of interesting stories. And for some, a vision issue or learning disability that has gone undiagnosed is the culprit. In order to help your child, the first thing you must do is suss out the reason behind their hatred for books. Sit down and talk about the reasons—in detail—that your little one isn’t interested in flipping through a good tale.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your child enjoy reading without feeling as though he or she is being tricked into doing something he or she doesn’t like. Here are a few of the best.
Get some help
If you’re feeling frustrated, chances are good that your child is, too. Consider hiring a tutor who can help your loved one work on strengths and find weaknesses. Hearing criticism from a third party is very different than getting it from a parent.
Get your child moving
If books don’t interest your child because he or she would rather be up and playing, integrate the two into one game, such as a scavenger hunt that requires reading hand-written clues to find treasures. Make it fun by creating a mystery he or she must solve with each clue, and hide small toys or candy at the end as a prize.
If your child just can’t get into a book, try downloading a voice changer app on your phone and read the book out loud. Then, apply different sound effects, such as a robot voice or an echo, to the finished story. Have your child do the same and listen to each other’s completed recording.
Perhaps your child just hasn’t found the right book. That’s okay; have your child write his or her own! Come up with a topic together—if nothing good comes to mind, look online for some interesting photos that can be used as a prompt (there are some great ones here).
Head to the library
Your local library can make reading fun! With storytime, musical guests, and colorful posters and visual cues, the children’s area will definitely invoke a reader’s spirit in your young one. Talk to your child about what he or she is interested in learning about, then ask the librarian to help you find several books on that topic. Try not to push your child to read something that’s important to you; instead, let your child find his or her own favorites, and expand the topics with discussion afterwards.
Head to the movies
There are tons of wonderful movies based on books: Jumanji, The Polar Express, Jurassic Park, and Coraline, to name a few. If your child loves a movie that was a story first, encourage him or her to read the book too. Being familiar with the story might make reading the book more fun.
Download some word games
Books aren’t the only way to get your child reading; look for word games on your phone or tablet that will encourage your child to use phonics. Try a board game like Scrabble, or play a simple game of “Hangman” with paper and pencil.
Try to stay patient with your child when he or she expresses frustration; many kids feel as if they are failing when they can’t pick something up right away, and it can be harmful to their self-esteem. Let your child move at his or her own pace—your job simply is to motivate and to praise along the way.