By Claire Zaruba
I didn’t always love reading, but it wasn’t because I didn’t love books. In fact, I loved the
of reading. Yet it was a chore that I avoided at all costs because I was frustrated.
Despite having encouraging parents—who were also teachers—the foundation of my frustration stemmed from being a painfully slow reader. It was difficult and overwhelming to try and keep up with the high demands of reading assignments.
Soon, reading became a disheartening combination of having to work harder than my classmates and reading books I didn’t like. After I became a teacher, I vowed that my students wouldn’t feel the weight of a reading struggle like I did.
“Reading became a disheartening combination of having to work harder than my classmates and reading books I didn’t like.”
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In an effort to make reading fun for my students, I found the books I loved as a child—books my mother read to me with great voice and purpose—and flipped through the familiar pages once again. Then I found a ways to engage my students, and fill them with a love of reading with these books and others.
The following approaches may seem like common sense, but are often overlooked by both parents and teachers. I have seen them work and hope you can instill a love of reading in your children and students by using them too.
Show Your Own Love for Books
Read books that YOU find interesting; you don’t need the newest children’s book for kids to appreciate or relate to the story. What’s more important is the way the story is read. Chances are, if you love the story, you’ll read it with greater voice, which is what engages children. Here are some other ways to show your love of reading.
“What’s more important is the way the story is read. Chances are, if you love the story, you’ll read it with greater voice, which is what engages children.”
Don’t just read the book; hug it and tell your students how much you love it. Share stories about your experiences with books and be obviously gentle with the pages. Let them know how precious a book can be to someone and encourage them to choose their own favorites.
The most valuable way to show your kids your own love for books is to let them see you reading. Read novels, recipe books, magazines, street signs and television captions. Show how useful and gratifying reading is to daily life.
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Find Good Times to Read
Bedtime is a popular time to read—it’s a calming activity and a smart way to help kids fall asleep. However, books should not solely be used to lull kids into a dream. There are many other great opportunities to pull out a book, such as:
During a sibling’s ball game
In the car—Ask them to read to you, even if they’re only old enough to tell you a story with the pictures
In the park
During a once a week family reading night—read a book together or on your own
You can also ask older siblings read to the younger kids or listen to audio books. Use your imagination to find every opportunity to read, both together or individually.
Make Their Struggle Your Struggle
If your student is struggling with reading, take on the burden with them—few teachers would object to a parent team-reading their child’s difficult assignments. I can still remember how relieved I was when my mother offered to take turns reading
aloud with me. Not only did it ease my frustration, but it also made my reading assignment more enjoyable and educational.
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Make Reading Fun
When reading becomes an imposition or an obligation, it loses its charm. To avoid this, teachers and parents can use many of the same tactics to make reading fun, such as:
Turn reading into a game. For example, pick a word and see who can find it the most times throughout a story.
Let them show their comprehension of a book while doing something they love, like acting out a scene or drawing a picture that retells the story.
Avoid reading the same books each night.
Have amusing conversations about previously read books or the characters in them.
Go to the library and see who can find the most exciting book, then check all of them out anyway.
A love for reading starts young if you encourage it and make it fun. Take a break or change your approach if reading ever becomes negative or frustrating and show kids how much you love reading too.