Yesterday, we talked a bit about the difficulties often encountered with kids who truly hate books. Sometimes, even if you’ve done everything “right”, your kids may still decide that books are not their friend.
This happens for so very many reasons and as I mentioned, a lot of the time it isn’t even directly your fault! Some children simply cannot handle the pressure that’s given so early on in school about reading and they completely shut down. Several of mine fall in this category.
What I have learned in this 18+ year process has required a complete overhaul on my entire outlook on how reading should be approached and handled (and just a side note here, to an oft-asked question: yes, this does tend to often also affect a child’s view and interest in reading). I had to take everything I had been told and literally toss it in the trash.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following each child’s cues when it comes to guiding them into a friendship with books. We are fostering a positive relationship with books for our children and this is a process that won’t happen overnight.
If you haven’t read the post from yesterday, please make sure you do so as it really does completely set the stage for these tips which just further detail what I discussed there. I decided to make this a separate post simply because it was an overwhelming amount of information.
To recap though, my number one suggestion is to have read aloud time every day. With that in mind, here are some basic suggestions to make that work in your own home and suggestions for further research if you’d like to do so.
Who Should Read to Them?
There is no true “right” or “wrong” way to do this part. As I’ve mentioned throughout this article there is no set way for this to be done. It’s whatever works best for your family… so here are the best options we’ve found…. feel free to leave a comment with more suggestions!
Parents: Admittedly there are often times when we get to “adventure reading” time and my voice is shot. That said, many moms truly love to read great books out loud to their children, I’m definitely one of them. If this is something that you love to do and sounds really fun to you, then definitely do the reading yourself. But for some of us, there are definitely times when that’s simply not a viable option. In that case, there are still some great ways to make sure that fun reading time happens.
(Please note that some links may be affiliate links, these links help support all we do here but cost you nothing in the process!)
Audible: If I’m not the one reading, this is absolutely my favorite option. Audible offers an audiobook format (or more than one) for nearly every book out there. Audible is owned by Amazon and you do NOT have to have a membership through either company to access Audible books or the many amazing deals that Amazon offers in conjunction with an Audible version add-on (more on this in the “What to Read” section). I’m picky about narrators, so I would truthfully just rather read some of the books myself. There are Audible samples available to listen to on Amazon before purchasing, sometimes I let one of the boys hear the narrator’s voice to make sure it’s one they can listen to. My children enjoy the accents and some of the narrators’ distinct voices as something different and exciting for a new book adventure and it adds a uniquely fun element to a reading of that book for them.
A couple notes: It’s worth mentioning that with audiobooks comes the question, “Is this really reading?” – that’s ultimately up to you to decide, try it out and see for yourself what the result is, but always make sure your children know that what’s being read is a book and show them the cover of the book as well. For us, sometimes it’s helpful to have a ‘hard copy’ of a book on hand (paperback) that they can read along with, sometimes listening is enough (often while doing something creative quietly) and sometimes reading along with the ebook on an iPad or e-Reader (we tend to do this on a separate device than the one the book is being played from).
Librivox: Like Audible, Librivox is a website (and app) that offers audiobooks. Unlike Audible, it is a free service. If you’re someone who loves classics and poetry and older books that are public domain and you don’t care who’s reading it or the quality and/or you need free options, this is absolutely the website for you! You can even submit books yourself (they have all their guidelines right there on the site and of course it all has to be pre-approved). The positive in favor of Librivox is definitely the price. The drawbacks are that they only offer books that are old enough to be considered public domain and the quality is often very low. A few books have been very difficult for us to hear because either the volume of the reader was far too low, or the background static was just too overwhelming. They do have people who “proof” these audiobooks but sometimes things slip through the cracks.
Siblings: If you have older children in the home that enjoy reading, it’s a great idea to have them read out loud to their younger siblings. That said, do set some ground rules for reading time (younger siblings often do not respect an older child’s reading the way they would mom so they may goof off – alternatively an older sibling who’s reading may feel like they get to be in “control” while they read and be overly bossy as a result), it’s always a good idea for mom to stay in the room to observe and/or keep the peace. But again, keep in mind that the end result is for your reluctant and emerging readers to enjoy this reading time… if that’s happening with big brother or sister, great! If they’re not enjoying it, however, it’s time to make a change.
Books on Tape or CD: The library and many bookstores offer books on CD or tape. While this is definitely “going out of style” and less and less of them are being offered due to the popularity of audiobooks, if this is your thing it is definitely an option.
What to read…
This is a really deep question… and one that I will not be tackling in detail here.
Why? Because someone else already has!!! Please go over and visit Sarah at “Read Aloud Revival”, be sure to subscribe to her site to get her booklist (scroll to the bottom and fill in your email address to get the list emailed to you). It’s an amazing tool and will absolutely get you started on fun adventures for any age or interest.
My favorite thing right now about her site is that she offers all of us instant access to a regularly updated page of current deals on Audible books (we are talking getting these ebook/audiobook sets with amazing narrators for as little as .99 cents!), so be sure to check that out as well because they are not only books from her booklists, but you typically get the kindle version of the book, then you check the box to add Audible to the order and voila you have both the hard copy of an amazing book as well as the audio version (she has a detailed explanation on how it all works there too – so handy!).
How does any of this teach THEM to read?
It is my belief that the very fundamental core of reading is for a child to have an interest in what a book may contain. If they only ever associate boredom and monotony and frustration and even anger with books being read (or being told to read), we are absolutely NOT fostering a positive reading environment for them. This is at the very foundation of why a reluctant reader (especially boys) hates to read. By offering our children adventure and entertainment through reading, they feel great about it! They learn to associate reading as something that’s not so terrible after all, something they may even actually want to try themselves outside of adventure reading time.
Watching my 11-year-old twins pick up a book for their personal reading time for the first time ever without argument… having one of them approach me with a passage from that reading book that he thought was funny and read it out loud to me… that moment was priceless. That is the absolute defining moment of why I am writing this. Because it does pay off. Not immediately, not even always in ways we expect. And sometimes they go backward for a while. But overall, we are definitely headed in the right direction!
There you have it…
I truly hope this has encouraged and blessed you if you are struggling with a child who is refusing or truly does not enjoy reading. Again, there is no one answer or technique that solves every problem for every child. But if you approach this as an adventure that is to be treasured, your child will almost always come around as well.