How to get your child to read with enthusiasm
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At Funzaggy, we believe that reading is one of the greatest forms of recreation and we consider it the pillar to full appreciation of every other form of recreation as the child develops. So let’s begin to explore how to get your child to read with enthusiasm.

Children at table reading

Reading is fun!

Certainly, the intention of most parents is to pleasantly teach their children to read so that they can enjoy stories, learn and become bright with advanced literacy skills. Nevertheless, this can quickly go downhill. The process can end up in the land of yells, screams, tears and frustration for both parent and child. On the other hand, a joyful and enthusiastic reader may emerge. You see, reading may come as easy as a breeze to some but to others it is a whole different story. Many factors though, affect a child’s development of reading and how the child approaches it. 

Aren’t you fascinated with the whole process of getting a child to begin reading and of equal importance, getting a child to enjoy reading? You may  now be reflecting on yourself: ‘How did I grasp the art of reading?’ You learnt to read; but how? As much as there may be basic rules that apply, in my view, it is not a cookie cutter – one size fits all approach. Learning to read is one thing but actually enjoying reading is another and it is so important.

Artwork of a child reading with enthusiasm

Girl reading away!

What Did You do to Get Your child to Read with Enthusiasm?

This is a question I got oh so often when my daughter was younger. People would ask on bus rides, at the pediatrician’s office and even at book stores. Really, it was nothing out of this world. We simply made reading fun. Along with teaching phonemic awareness and phonics at home (reinforced once my daughter started preschool), here are some techniques that I used to get my daughter Jade, reading and reading with enthusiasm.

Babies Love Stories: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Early Story Time: Very early on in the life of my daughter, we had story time (actual reading or just story telling) most mornings and evenings. Evenings were particularly fun as we mostly did so under the beautiful Caribbean skies – from early dusk into late evening. A lot of repetition; many times the same book over and over for days with emphasis on the parts that she enjoyed the most. It was a joy to see her so amused. This experience was enhanced with little songs related to our reading. From the onset, these activities presented reading as a recreational activity – something to look forward to and to have fun with.

Books Everywhere: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Strategically Placing Books Around the House: Since I enjoyed reading myself, there were always books somewhere around the house. In my quest however to ensure a joyful reader, books – beautiful picture books – were left in strategic areas within her reach. Lucky for me, she would not put objects in her mouth as a toddler, so there was no ‘book eating’ :). Leaving books in many odd areas also served to facilitate spontaneous reading time anywhere within our home.  Additionally, we had a few waterproof books for bath time and indulged in story time almost everywhere. We devoured many picture books, both hard and soft copy.

Child reading a book at library

Child reading at public library, Dominica

Childhood Stories: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Conversations about my readings: A moment which I found my daughter enjoyed was when I recounted stories and spoke of books or articles that I had read during my childhood. I would select readings that I had most enjoyed as a child and would sometimes relate a bit daily.  My daughter would not forget to ask for her daily dose. Her attention span was amazing and certainly optimal during these story moments and there always seemed to be a yearning for more.

Fun Chapter Books: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Introducing Chapter Books: And just so we slipped into chapter books. At this point it was less of the picture books. Her retelling of these chapters were so vivid that it felt like pictures were less necessary. She was yearning for more detailed stories. Guess what though? I was the reader, she was the listener. She showed very little interest in reading the books by herself at age four to five. I complied and we had the time of our lives enjoying stories.  Jade would ask me to speed up sometimes when she felt that I was reading too slowly.  At times she would ask me to pause for her to vent or express delight on particular happenings in the story.

A Line a Day: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Allowing child to read a few lines: Well I would not be reading to Jade forever duh. There were no worries though. I was certain that with this kind of enthusiasm, she would soon be grabbing the books out of my hands. Still, we employed some methods to have her participate even more in the reading.  I  presented  her with the idea of actually having to read small portions of the content out loud. So we began with a pause where it would become her turn to read the next word or two or three or just the next line. Jade was not too amused with this strategy. She participated albeit reluctantly. As I saw it, she considered this technique a ‘time waster’. We persisted though – and so progressed her reading skills.

Getting Creative: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Getting creative: Or should I call it ‘Getting Sneaky’? This technique worked magnificently. Remember the chapter books? Well I would read chapter upon chapter aloud to Jade until my speech would become slurred with sleep. Miss Jade would still be saying “more’ in her commanding tone, each time I’d try to end the reading session. So here’s what came next. I would sneak out of Storytime just as we’d approach a cliff hanger in the chapter.  I would pretend to take a phone call, check something on the stove, or have a conversation with her dad – anything to leave the reading for an extended period of time.

Jade would become too impatient and would continue reading by herself. If I would attempt to continue from where I left off, she would inform that she had moved on and would summarize what had taken place in the story. This would sometimes be followed by rants or some expressions of emotions based on the type of story in question. I remember being so amazed the first few times this occurred.

The local bookstore then became her favourite place to visit and she also discovered new chapter books online. Apart from the occasional reading we’d share sometimes, Jade would read her own chapter books from this point on.

Online Gaming: Path to getting a child to read with enthusiasm

Online Gaming: Online gaming is another that I would add. Of all the little ‘match this, match that’ games that I had introduced to Jade, she read herself on to more complex games.  She had now discovered fandoms and other online forums. To be able to play her new found games, Jade had to read tutorials. She had to figure out how to obtain different items, build structures and attain higher levels in the games. There were moments of tears, quickly followed by moments of joy once she attained her objectives. She learnt the value and benefits of reading right there.

Many times I would be called by Jade to help decipher some aspects of the game.  She would ask for my assistance to better understand what a tutorial was seeking to explain. She brought this one on herself right? I think she figured out quite early that mum was not going to be of much help in that department. I certainly was not into Minecraft and the lot. So, this child devoured tutorials, as challenging as they would have been to her at the time. She certainly learned to solve her gaming problems on her own through reading and following instructions. What a lesson in comprehension and new word acquisition it was for her!

Reading With Enthusiasm is Not Rocket Science

See, our at home techniques to boost reading skills and develop a love for reading were nothing out of this world. These simple techniques proved to develop my daughter’s word comprehension skills as well as increase her language skills. Her vocabulary did not only increase but it became so rich that we were complemented on her vocabulary almost every time while out in public.

Jade, now in her early teens still enjoys heading to our local island bookstore. It feels all so good to see her educate and entertain herself through reading. These days though, she is more into digital art and animation, however I can see how her love for reading pointed her toward this path. To this day, do not ask Jade to read aloud – It is just not her thing.

Reading is About Having Fun!

Here’s hoping that these techniques for getting my daughter to read and read with enthusiasm will be beneficial to someone else. Of course, you should do what works best for you to get your child to read with enthusiasm including incorporating your own techniques.  Audio books as well as ‘how- to-do’ books which are in line with the child’s interest may be great options and they are more available now. 

What I think really works though is being consistent in making reading part of your daily routine and presenting it in a manner which amuses the child. Have fun, go on adventures! You will then be on the path to getting your child to read with enthusiasm, the basis to enjoying many other aspects of life. Remember, your child may not always be the top reader for her age but if she enjoys it, you are both on to something!

We’d love to hear from you! What techniques did you use to get your children, nephews, nieces, godchildren, pupils or lil’ friends to enjoy reading? Share with us in the comment section below or message us at:

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