Regardless of their grade in elementary school, children need to read regularly. Many schools assign reading minutes to help ensure that children read outside of the classroom. While some children have difficulty with reading, others might avoid it because they just don’t like to read.
For most children, there is one surefire way to help improve reading skills. The answer is simple, and parents might not like it. The best way to improve reading is to encourage them to read on a regular basis.
The more a child reads, the more confident they may become in their reading ability. However, some children might have a learning disorder that makes reading more difficult. They may require extra enrichment or specialized reading instruction.
How to Help Children Read More
For children who don’t struggle but who need to become more fluent readers, here are five ways to encourage them to read and help them read more often:
- Create a rewards system
- Read the book, watch the movie
- Don’t judge the book a child chooses
- Read aloud to kids
- Use a reading program
Create a Rewards System
Reading rewards don’t work for all children, but some feel incredibly motivated when they can visualize their progress and earn a prize. If parents think back to their own childhood, they might realize that they benefited from reading rewards, too.
In the 1980s, many schools started to participate in a program sponsored by Pizza Hut called the BOOK IT! Program, which gave each child a badge. When a child finished a book, they could take the badge (or button) to their local Pizza Hut and receive a star sticker. When the student accumulated a specific number of stars, they earned a free personal pan pizza.
The Book It program still exists, and many schools participate. Schools also could participate in other reading programs that offer a unique rewards system or they could create their own.
At home, parents can design a rewards system that helps to support their child’s reading goals. Let children create a chart that shows their progress. Parents can set prize levels after a specific number of reading minutes or when the child reads a certain number of books.
Prizes don’t have to be tangible. Parents can reward children with privileges like extra screen time or something else that motivates their child.
Read the Book, Watch the Movie
Many children’s books have been adapted to the big screen. Make the book come to life by letting the child watch the movie after they finish the book.
After the movie, ask the child about the differences between the book and the movie. Did the main character look the way that the child pictured them? Imagination Soup offers an extensive list of children’s books that are now movies.
Don’t Judge the Book a Child Chooses
Letting a child choose their own books helps them discover the genres, authors and characters they prefer. When parents choose a book, reading can begin to feel like homework.
While it’s important to let children explore the library and find their favorite books, parents also need to avoid judging a child’s book choice. Parents could have specific books a child isn’t allowed to read because of mature content, and these stipulations are a family decision.
When a child chooses a book, though, that is grade and age appropriate, parents might need to step back and reserve any judgment. A child might love to read history books or even mysteries. Meanwhile, parents might prefer their child to read award-winning books.
If a child is enjoying the book, let them read. The act of reading is about learning but it’s also about enjoyment. Again, the more a child reads, the better they may become.
Read Aloud to Kids of All Ages
A child isn’t too old to hear a story. Listening to stories and enjoying story time never really stops being enjoyable. Adults may even love it, and some adults prefer books on tape.
While children should read independently, it’s also ok for parents to read aloud to them. Children can read one book independently, and a parent can read them a more difficult book aloud.
Hearing a story read aloud also could help children relax, and reading can be a comforting bedtime ritual. Pick out a fun book and read to both older kids and younger kids.
Use a Reading App or Program
Children who struggle to read could benefit from using a reading app like Readability. Reading apps are all designed differently. With Readability, children read books aloud. The program includes a built-in AI reading tutor that recognizes the child’s voice; when a child struggles with a word, the reading tutor provides assistance.
Readability’s AI tutor also can help children who struggle with comprehension. At the end of each story, the AI tutor asks questions about the book to test a child’s understanding. If the child chooses the incorrect answer, the tutor will show them the section of the book that provides information to help answer the question and the tutor will read it aloud to them. The child then will be able to answer the question again.
In this way, Readability reinforces the importance of going back and re-reading to improve comprehension. Re-reading can help children better understand the content and also pick up on details that they might have missed.
Children also are encouraged to explore stories as they read. Each Readability story includes a list of vocabulary words, but children can tap any word in the story to hear the definition of the word or hear it used in a sentence. Every word the child discovers is added to their word bank.
How Can Parents Help Children Enjoy Reading?
While parents can embrace a rewards system, read to their children, encourage them to explore and choose books or even use a reading program, some children may just not love to read. How can parents help children like reading?
Some children might have developed a dislike for reading because the act of reading was treated as something that they had to do. Parents also might have picked books for their child, and perhaps children grew to resent that they had no choice but to read a book that was forced on them.
Parents can let children read different materials to encourage them to read. Comic books, graphic novels and magazines all help children read more. Some children might love graphic novels; these books offer illustrations that help enhance the reading journey.
Comic books also can encourage children to read more. Parents may want to help children choose comics that are age-appropriate, though. Some comic books are best suited for young adults. However, there are many titles that are written specifically for children.
Ditching the clock also could help take some of the pressure off of a child when they read. While parents might think that setting a timer is helpful, the child could be distracted or even discouraged by it. Parents could help children set grade-level appropriate reading goals instead.
Not all adults love reading, and not all children will love reading. However, parents can help them become better and more confident readers by helping them find a ‘like’ for books and stories.