How to Encourage your Child to Read

To encourage your child to read, consider his unique personality and situation. As a teacher, I have seen that the research which suggests that there are differences in learning approaches between males and females, privileged and disadvantaged readers, holds truth. Your approach to encouraging reading will be most successful if it is individually customised to fit your child’s particular learning needs.

For example, different genres of books work better with some categories of reader than others, particularly when applied to a particular gender. Boys in particular can be hard to motivate in reading. They often test lower than girls so we need some positive discrimination here. It is not apparently that they are slower, they just appreciate the benefits later, maybe too late – all we need to do is to help them appreciate the enjoyment/cultural benefits that reading can bring. There is also some research to suggest that whilst girls respond well to praise, boys respond to reward so progress incentives can encourage them.

Humor combined with brevity is often the best combination of all for reluctant readers, or for those who see reading as being just a lot of hard work. Try the seemingly unlikely genre of poetry here ! Yes, there is plenty that these young people can respond to! Go look around a big bookstore, or online at Amazon for one example, and you will see collections of funny teen poems (Love, Hate and My Best Mate is a popular early teen one at the moment, with poems including texting, cell phones and girl/boy troubles !) – they are witty, fun and untaxing to read. Also, you will see Rap poetry such as “Monster Raps” (try reading them to your kids and see them laugh and cringe at your efforts – at least they are noticing it!) and Street Poetry, some of which is very good. All of these poems can be enjoyed in very small doses which is a good incentive.

When considering incentives for younger readers, try simpler rewards. For example complaints about bedtimes could be utilised well – the last half hour before bed can be a reward for good behaviour in itself – a rare treasured time when parents have time for the child alone. One good idea is to read the child books/passages you remembered having enjoyed yourself. That way the child can experience gems of literature he might not otherwise attempt in full; for example Pip’s first spine-chilling encounter with the convict in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, or the fate of the brother and sister in the flood in The Mill on The Floss, Brer Rabbit and his trickiness usually amuses – and all but the most sceptical of kids respond to Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes! Another incentive might be to try a simple play, so the child can have the fun of “acting a part.”

If you rack your brains you will remember plenty of examples of your own and perhaps share the most successful with others! I know from personal experience that the stories I read out loud the best are the ones I enjoy reading myself!

If the child is a good enough reader, you can even leave off the story at the best bit and suggest they read on alone!