August 27, 2013

So... You Want Your Kids to Read?

Before I start today's Teacher Tip, I want to remind you all that today is the LAST DAY to enter my giveaway raffle. Get your entries submitted before midnight!

Whether you're a parent or teacher, it's likely that you've lamented that your child (or student, but for the post, I'm going with child) doesn't read as much as you'd like. We've all seen the statistics that correlate minutes reading to test scores, but even beyond those standardized tests, reading is the key to learning information about our world. And every child NEEDS to be doing it!

To that end, here are 6 Tips to Get Your Children to Read:

1. Make sure they have access to a well-stocked library full of high-interest books. It should be a constantly evolving selection as your children's interests and reading levels change. Is your child obsessed with sports? Grab all the Mike Lupica books you can find. Loves reality TV? Look for some biographies and autobiographies by celebrities your child likes (look at who they follow on Twitter and Facebook for inspiration). Boy-crazed? Introduce her to Sarah Dessen. There are books out there for EVERY child... you just have to pay attention!

Your library doesn't have to be massive, and the books don't have to be pristine. Go to thrift stores, take advantage of Scholastic warehouse sales, hit up a used book store, or even rent them from the public library. Just make sure they're on-hand at all times so there's no excuse of, "There's nothing good to read here!"

2. Read. Yes, you. One of the best ways we can instill a love of reading is to let our children see us modeling a love of reading. How can we get upset at that our children never pick up a book when they never see us do the same. Turn off the TV and step into a good story yourself. And hey... if it's good... share it!

3. Speaking of sharing books... help your child create a book club - even an informal one. The best part of reading a book is being able to share the experience with others. Suggest that your child and a friend read the same book so they can talk about it together. I know that when I was a teenager, I would have done practically anything my best friend did. Peer pressure can be positive too!

4. Non-fiction counts! If your child will only read magazines, that's okay! There is value in reading Seventeen and Sports Illustrated, assuming of course, they're not just glancing at the pictures. You should see an increase in the amount of non-fiction reading in and out of classrooms as your child ages... because thats the way most adults gather information.

5. Talk to your child about what he's reading. You can do this in informal ways, but by having authentic conversations about the text, you can help check for understanding and help your child consider alternative viewpoints. Ask them their opinions on things that happen in the text, and have them show you where in the book their ideas come from. It helps if you're reading the same book. My mom and I are constantly reading the same books and talk about them all the time. I can't tell you how many of my favorites have been her recommendations.

6. Share articles with your child on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Although it is not my ONLY news source, I do gather quite a few hot topics from reading what my friends (and Huffington Post) suggest on my news feed each day. Link the article with a quote or comment from you to hook them into the text. And it doesn't have to be about world news (unless that interests them). You can find articles on relationships, electronics, sports... it's all at your fingertips. A subtle, "This reminds me of what we were talking about the other day," is often the prefect nudge for them to read something they wouldn't have otherwise. They're learning without even realizing it!

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