Over the course of nearly a year now, A Grade Ahead has posted many articles about reading – on it’s importance, resources to help with it, and its advantages (and that’s just to name a few!). So when I sat down to write this post, I wanted to bring something fresh to the table. By now, we surely all know how important reading is and how beneficial it can be; otherwise, we wouldn’t need articles like this one! With that in mind, much like I did with my article on how to get your children to do their homework, I thought that the best advice should come straight from the sources themselves. I reached out to the A Grade Ahead team and asked them what got them inspired to read and keep reading. Here is what they said.
How to Help Your Child Read: 4 Expert Tips
Let them learn by example.
As a child, I was constantly being read to, and I absolutely loved it. I loved it so much that there are pictures of me “reading” to my younger sister when I was around 2 years old! I memorized my favorite books and would recite them to her. However, once I was old enough, I started truly recognizing words, and I was hooked from that moment on.
Give them the building blocks.
Pretty much anyone who knows me knows that I love to read. In high school, I used to bring multiple books to read between classes because I would finish one before the school day was over and need another one to start for the bus ride home. What most people don’t know is that I couldn’t read until about halfway through second grade. Oh, I could read some words, but the idea of how reading worked never really clicked.
Then, I moved to a different school where they emphasized phonics, and my reading level jumped. I went from picture books to novels because reading suddenly made sense. So if your child is behind, don’t think that means he or she can’t catch up! Phonics can help, but the most important part is to teach children to enjoy stories. If you can pass on a love of reading to your children, it will motivate them to keep trying until they get it – and keep them reading afterwards!
To encourage my son to read when he was in 2nd grade, I made sure that he had access to his favorite books. He loved the 39 Clues series, which was perfect because it is a long series with many books. On weekends or lazy summer days, I even let him stay up as long as he wanted as long as he was reading. He was thrilled to be allowed to ignore his bedtime, and I thought it was great that he would fall asleep with a book in his hand. It got him in a great habit of reading before falling asleep, which he still often does even years later.
Find out what they like.
A series I read (or my mom read to me, really) when I was little was The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I loved these books, and it got me interested in fantasy. It was my first real taste of the genre. C.S. Lewis created a world of magic and creatures that I had never imagined before. I was hooked. I loved fantasy as a kid; I think partly because I had such a rich imagination, as most kids do. For this reason, I always recommend that students try a fantasy novel.
When I was first starting to read, I loved Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The silly rhymes and situations kept my interest as well as the colorful pictures. It was also a really simple read—my parents read it to me enough that I memorized it & pretended to read the words.
Another great book is Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (I still love this book). If I wanted to fill 5 minutes, I would read a couple of these poems—some are silly, but some are actually pretty deep. It’s a great introduction to poetry for kids!
I like books written from a first-person perspective, such as memoirs. I find that I can relate to them, and it really makes me feel like I am connected to and engaged with the story.
Echo the wise words of other brilliant minds.
This is a quote by Dr. Seuss that I think says a lot about reading: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
I love this quote by Madeleine L’Engle: “A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living ﬁre to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
It seems as though most readers have that moment where reading just clicked for them, whether it was modeling a behavior, a specific series or genre, or even a quote. What about you? How were you inspired to begin reading? What keeps you reading today? What have you done to get your child to love reading? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Author: Emily Karth, Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead