TRT Podcast#21: What to do when kids don’t like to read
How can kids possibly get better at reading when they don’t like to read?
In this episode you will discover:
- How to make time for learners to read (and insist on it)
- How to find books your students will enjoy
- My TOP strategy for getting kids to enjoy reading
Listen to the episode here
Full episode transcript
You are listening to Episode 21, What To Do When Kids Don't Like To Read.
This is the final episode in our eight part series about helping struggling readers. Today I'm sharing just three powerful tips that will help you help learners who don't like to read.
Number one is to make time for them to read and insist on it. Easier said than done, I know, but so very important! I know when one of my kids, who is now entering fifth grade was a reluctant reader back in third grade. It was really hard. It was like pulling teeth to get him to sit down and read a book. So, I realized the only way to make this happen was to put it in our routine and insist on it. Every day after school he had to sit on the couch and read for 20 minutes. This was so important to help him break through that reluctance and disinterest when it came to reading, because you can't learn to enjoy something unless you give it a chance.
I know in the classroom, most teachers have a specific time during the day that kids are expected to read independently. I would encourage ALL teachers to make sure this is a mandatory time and not a time that you have if you're done with your work, or if you're not doing something else, or if we have extra time. Build it into your classroom day, so that students know that from perhaps 1:15 to 1:40 they are reading independently. What I always recommend is that teachers move around the room during that time and have conferences with students about their reading. If you don't have this built-in time, it's going to be really hard for kids who don't like to read to ever learn to enjoy it. They need to have a time that they get to read books that they choose.
That brings us to tip number two: Find books that they'll enjoy that they can actually read. I won't go into reading levels here, but I will talk about how I think that you sometimes need to alter your definition of reading material, especially when you're dealing with kids who don't enjoy reading. Some books that kids really tend to get into would be comic books, like Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and Baby Blues. These are all funny, clean comics for kids of all ages. Then you can also give kids books like graphic novels, which are very popular these days. There are many different graphic novels that kids can read. I'll link to a few of the ones that my own kids enjoy in the show notes here. There are also books like the Guinness Book Of World Records. You see, there are many different options besides traditional chapter books that can help kids get enthusiastic about reading.
Of course, I definitely think that kids should be reading chapter books when they're ready for them, and that's why I spent six months creating The Ultimate Guide To Early Chapter Books Series, which you can find on my blog. I'll link to that in the show notes. You can head to that post and check out over 250 early chapter books series. I go into detail about each series, and I give its reading level. You can use that list to help you find books that a child may enjoy, especially when you go the extra step and purchase the bundle associated with that blog post. It includes many book lists for particular types of interests. For example, I have a book list for kids who enjoy sports. There's a whole bunch of early chapter books series I recommend there by reading level, as well as book lists for kids who like animals. There are many different options there.
Finally, and this perhaps may be the most important tip, read aloud to all children, whether or not they enjoy reading. This is so, so important. Reading aloud has many, many benefits, but a huge one is developing enthusiasm around reading. If you're a classroom teacher, please, please, please build reading aloud to your whole class into your day every day. If you are a parent at home, I know it's so tough. Your days are packed. But if you can find a specific time even three days a week that you read a chapter book to your kids, I highly recommend it. Not only do kids get the many benefits from reading aloud, including a model of excellent reading, building vocabulary, and things like that, but you can also use this time to get them hooked on books you'd like them to read.
A few years ago, my oldest, who is now 13, but at the time was in about fourth grade, loved to read, but there were some series I wanted her to try that she wasn't interested in. One of them was the Nanny Piggins books. I can't remember the author, but I'll link to it in the show notes. I read one book of that series to her and her brother, and she was hooked. She went and read the rest, but prior to that, I could not get her to look past the cover. Reading aloud is very powerful. It's a great way to get kids into books they didn't want to try before.
Something else you can do with reading aloud, as you're working kids into reading chapter books on their own, is you read a page, they read a page, or you read a paragraph, they read a paragraph. Eventually, you read a chapter, they read a chapter, you read a chapter to them, they read a chapter on their own and tell you about it. You can gradually work them into this independent reading of chapter books by doing it as a team to begin with.
Those were three quick tips, but I believe they're very powerful. They were, number one, make time for your learners to read on their own and insist on it. Number two, make sure they have access to books they enjoy that they can read. Those may be comic books, graphic novels, or other types of books. One I forgot to mention was magazines, like Sports Illustrated For Kids, for example. Then finally, make sure you are reading aloud to your learners. Have a consistent time that you do this. Remember, this is a great time to sneak in those chapter books you know your students would enjoy, but haven't been interested in trying on their own. This is a great way to hook them on a series and help them change their attitude around reading.
I hope you've enjoyed this eight part series. If you'd like to check out all the episodes in the series, be sure to head to my blog, the measuredmom.com. Click on the podcast tab in the menu bar, and you'll be able to see all of our episodes. You can find the show notes for this episode at themeasuredmom.com/episode21. Thanks so much for listening, and I'll talk to you again next week.
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Non-traditional books your learners may enjoy
- Garfield comic books
- Calvin & Hobbes comic books
- Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels
- Chronicles of Claudette graphic novels
Book series mentioned in the episode
BUILD COMPREHENSION WITH OUR RESPONSE PACK!
Help your readers find chapter books they’ll love with these leveled book lists. Then use the 75 reading response sheets to help them make sense of what they read. The response sheets focus on character, setting, plot, and vocabulary.