Four Tips to Increase Reading Motivation

Children with boundless imaginations need a steady diet of books, no doubt about it. But not all children can read the fabulous titles that are trending in their classrooms. They adore big concepts such as Captain Underpants, Dog Man, I Survived, and Ada Twist Scientist. But they are quickly disheartened when they cannot read the text. Yet one good thing makes up for reading disparities in our communities: Early reading habits. I tutor in a rural community populated with low income kids. Our students are the children of farm workers as well as poor families who have experienced generations of poverty. Kids are eager to read, no matter where they live, but they may need a confidence builder. So here is a four-part recipe for helping your child fulfill their huge ambition. They too can become a fluent reader.

  1. Book Clubs for Kids are happening and they’re popular. In summer book clubs, usually run by a nonprofit, kids read one on one with a caring adult, and then break for a project. If the featured book of the week is the latest version of Humpty Dumpty, the kids can follow up with an egg drop experiment. Kids do love that test, in which they build an encasement for the egg to be dropped from a 4 or 5 foot ladder, or higher. If the egg survives, they feel triumphant. If it doesn’t, they inspect the casing. The idea is to fire up imaginations and then let them take it to the next level. Kids appreciate the logic. It’s also an opportunity for kids to take home the latest published books for free. They will definitely be networking with other kids about great children’s books.
  2. Library Challenges at your local library, or your closest participating library, are another great resource, and libraries always promote early readers, but more so in the summer months. I had one student who was a reluctant reader, and I had a hard time piquing his interest. He was very comfortable reading, and loved it, but only at a kinder grade level, and he was entering fourth grade. His great enthusiasm for math would not mean much anymore, because in fourth grade the equations take the written form. What helped me and his mother both was the local library challenge for summer reading. He read more books than anyone in his age category, and ended up winning tickets to a major basketball tournament. He took his dad. You have to know that made him proud. He was the kid who hated school and fell asleep in class. He was starting a new semester when I ran into him skateboarding in my neighborhood. He performed a stunt for me, after which I asked him how he liked school this year. He told me with a bright smile that he loved it and looked forward to it every day.
  3. Reading With Your Child worked wonders for a student of mine who was too ashamed to admit she couldn’t read. I had trouble just getting her to sit in a chair, and her greatest defense was to turn cartwheels across the floor of the tutoring office. But Mom got into the habit of reading with her, the two of them in a cozy setting. It became one of the student’s favorite things to do, and it was comfortable and loving. After that this student had the confidence to apply herself. We looked at her statistics on ABC Mouse the other day, and she has read over a hundred books over the semester.
  4. And last, suggest to your child that they Read to their dog, pet, or stuffed animal. Reading is performance for kids. They love the dramatics and they like hearing their own voice. It especially adds to their confidence. I can attest to that. One of my students had her best class ever when she arrived and plopped her best plush animal toy on top of the tutoring partition and commenced to read to the little stuffed dog. But it can just as easily be a real dog, cat, parrot or snake. Some animals are better listeners than others, but trust your child to know that.

Gretchen Van Lente is a freelance and fiction writer who tutors school age children in reading and writing. She is a septuagenarian and a graduate of the Syracuse Writing Program.

512 307 Gretchen Van Lente

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