All parents want their child to love reading, but sadly, not all children do love to read. You can throw your hands up in the air in despair or you can begin to instill a love for reading. And it is never too late!
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What Makes Your Child Hate Reading?
Recently, we received an email from a mom who had just started reading Teach a Child to Read With Children’s Books. Her child was in kindergarten at the local public school, and she explained what she is noticing:
“I have been working with B. on reading, and I have noticed in school that what I think they are teaching is basically the phonics approach. I see their point, but am finding it taking away from the reading and understanding point for B. Right now she is okay learning and memorizing new words, but I can see the enthusiasm is waning for her. When we read at night she picks a book and we read it together…she likes it a lot better. Today I told B. when she got home from school that we had to go over her sight words and she said “I know, I know. We have to do them.” She sounded like “Oh no, not again!” I think that is what you are talking about at the beginning of the book. I can see it and need to have her like this stuff again.”
Let’s explore what was contributing to her child losing the love for reading.
Heavy Emphasis on Phonics
First, she talks about a heavy phonics approach to teaching reading. Phonics definitely should be taught to all children. We never advocate that you leave phonics out of your reading program. What we encourage and teach you to do in Chapter 8 is to use phonics as one tool or arm of the reading instruction wheel. It’s not going to meet all your child’s needs because it simply can’t. The English language is too complex and unpredictable to expect phonics rules to be the complete instructional approach to reading.
When schools or parents rely too heavily on phonics, children are left with holes in their reading strategy toolbelt. They become frustrated and bored with constant drills and quickly (as in the case of the kindergartener above) lose their love for reading. This should never happen and we want you to learn all the strategies to teach reading so your child will continue to love reading for a lifetime!
Learning Words in Isolation
Notice how B groans when it’s time to practice sight words. Children see no value in learning skills and words in isolation. You probably don’t either! That’s because we are hard-wired to make meaning from our environment and that includes the print environment too. A traditional or packaged phonics approach will not provide your child with meaningful interaction with real books unless you purposefully infuse children’s books into those lessons.
Learning sight words is important and we cover this in Chapter 8 as well, but in Chapter 5 we explain why these skills are better taught within the context of lessons anchored by children’s books. And in Chapter 6 we teach you how to capitalize on teachable moments. These moments can occur during the read-aloud time or any time your child expresses curiosity about letters, sounds, and words.
Lack of Choice Will Kill the Love of Reading
B’s mom had already started to sense that B was losing her love for reading. Fortunately, B’s mom made a smart connection in time! She noticed that when B had a choice about which books she wanted to read, her enthusiasm and love for reading shot up again. Choice is a powerful motivator for children of all ages. It also teaches your child that she is an independent reader who can choose books, that reading time is not something only done at school that involves worksheets and drill, but reading is a sacred practice she can engage in on her own. Allow choice as often as possible and encourage your child to read books that interest her. Take note of what books your child gravitates to at the library–does she like picture books about fairy tales or does she choose books about animals? Is she interested in stories about superheroes or does she like history and tales about girls who were brave? Incorporate more of these books into her reading time and you’ll see her attitude change immediately!
Every Child Should Love Reading!
Let’s relate what this mom is saying to another school subject, science. Sometimes we hear children say “I HATE science!” No one hates science. We all are thrilled by the wonders we see around us each day, both in the created world of nature and in the man-made world. We love to take in the beauty, and we are amazed by the advances we see in technology. When students say they hate science, what they are really saying is they do not like the boring, uninspired, and shallow ways they’ve been taught the subject of science in school settings.
You do not have to let this happen with reading instruction!
Tips to Help Your Child Love Reading
There is no requirement that learning to read, by definition, has to be a process that is primarily one of sterile “drill and skill” rule memorization. Young children delight in learning when they can engage the process in ways that are rewarding, that take advantage of their built-in delight of language, and when being guided by someone who loves them and loves reading great books together. Instead of doing loads and loads of worksheets, read loads and loads of appropriately leveled books together using the strategic methods we explain in Teach a Child to Read With Children’s Books.
Your child will happily tell the world “I LOVE to read!” And you will be confident that she will love reading for a lifetime