We have a young and enthusiastic reader in our house! And it is really exciting to see how well she reads at such a young age. But I have known lots of kids who have lost the excitement they had early on and who later refuse to read anything. I am looking to cultivate all our kids to be readers, to love reading, and to overcome the challenges they face with reading.
The battle began just yesterday. G, our young reader, suddenly lost her enthusiasm for reading. Sometimes I think she does it just to be contrary. Sometimes I think she is craving more encouragement. But she told me, “I don’t want to read that book. I don’t like to read.” Well, you see, I just know that is not true.
Rather than give into discouragement and feed the frustration she has with reading (whether feigned or authentic), I used all my mama tools to revive her love of reading. And they worked! We finished chapter 2 of another book she is getting really interested in and finished with a promise to read more tomorrow.
Want to hear how I encourage my early reader to stay passionate about books and reading? Here are my mama reading tools:
Affirm her knowledge
When I hear “I don’t like to read” from my little one, I simply respond, “Oh, I know that’s not right, because YOU ARE A READER!!” I reinforce the idea in her that she CAN do it by calling her a good name: a reader! This tells her that I know she is a reader and she knows she is a reader and she knows that I know she is a reader. And, you know what? “Readers gonna read.” Giving her that little bit of encouragement seems to work wonders in keeping her interested in reading.
Make it special
We recently had baby number 3. As much as his big sisters fawn over him and love him, they still CRAVE time with Mama and Daddy during the day. They want specific one-on-one time with us and I think they should have it! So, I recently instituted a reading spot in our house and I invite the girls to come and read with me. Along about mid morning, when brother is sleeping, I put everything aside and ask G to read to me in our special spot. She usually jumps at the chance to soak up all that undivided attention.
Since G recently made the jump from picture books and simple early readers into chapter books, we needed to mark the milestone with something special. When we were reading her first chapter book and we got to the second chapter, I suggested to her that she needed a bookmark so she would be able to find her place the next time we read her book. And she got so excited!
The next day, we set out to make some special bookmarks for her chapter books. G’s is a bunch of vehicles caught in a tornado (of course). And mine was a simple pictogram to encourage a love of reading. After we made our bookmarks, we laminated them, to give them some permanence. G has really enjoyed having her own bookmark!
Marking milestones for early readers help them to look back and see their progress. And marking milestones may be as simple as laying out all the books she has completed and talking about each of them. Counting each book read and marking it on a chart. Getting a sticker for each book read. Or maybe even a coin to put in her piggy bank. Something tangible to mark the achievement will encourage her to keep moving forward, knowing the success she has had in the past.
I have a really hard time (I mean crazy hard time) with wrong. I just have never been a fan of being wrong. I always wanted to give the right answers in school and wouldn’t even open my mouth if I wasn’t absolutely certain I was right. And I struggle with this while trying to encourage my daughter to read. She is going to be wrong sometimes, she is going to need correction. She is going to get stuck. But, it is these stuck places that can get really sticky and discouraging for her. I don’t want her to lose her love of learning and reading because she is constantly told she is wrong.
So, I have decided that I am only going to correct when it is absolutely necessary. Oh, this is HARD! I have found that with her most of the correction needs to happen as a result of her lack of focus. She doesn’t need correction, she needs encouragement to pay closer attention.
I know I am just one of countless moms who was/is intimidated about teaching their kid to read. G has made the whole process really easy by basically teaching herself to read. But I feel it is my responsibility to encourage her love of reading and to foster it. Here are some other moms who have shared how they encourage their little ones to read:
» I love Imagination Soup’s list of Chapter books to Build Reading Momentum. I love the concept of momentum and how it implies that we have to just keep moving forward in the reading journey!
» Some of the tips from Snotty Noses for encouraging early reading are new to me. I really like the one about how body language influences our kids.
» Learn with Play at Home shares some AWESOME tips for increasing reading comprehension – because if we are going to be reading, it should be memorable, right?
» To help parents along the way, this list of resources is sure to be helpful.
» And a great list of books to encourage excited readers is always a good thing! I have been contemplating some of the books on this list and I am glad to discover they are perfect for the stage we are in right now with G.