As part of talking about teaching, I want to share how I get kids to read. I'm not a parent, so I don't have foolproof strategies for at home. But I do have the advice I give to parents and I've managed to create a few non-reluctant readers over the years.
Let's just jump right in.
1. Give them books. I use Scholastic Book orders and accumulate points when parents order. I also throw a lot of my own money in there. Usually there's one book per book order that's $1. Or maybe $2. I'll buy one of those for every kid a few times a year. Or I use my discount codes and coupon strategies to get a lot of books for a cheaper price. Many come in assorted packs.
The point is that I give kids books for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and at the end of the school year. Sometimes for Halloween. I'm not allowed to give them candy, and I hate buying plastic toys and such. Books don't cost much more than that.
Truly, the only thing I ever give them (aside from a mechanical pencil on their birthday) is books. They learn to value it.
2. Let them read whatever they want. ...as long as they can read it and comprehend it, and as long as it's not well below their reading level. I couldn't care less what they read as long as they read. I know what their ability levels are so I just scan covers to make sure the book is in that range.
3. Read aloud (even if it goes against the curriculum). Currently, I have to carve out time for a read aloud by taking away from other things. I prioritize everything that needs to get done and is required, but I also add in a read aloud for 10 minutes a day.
If they see that I value books, they value books. My read aloud strategies are posted here and this is where I secretly persuade them with my own beliefs to introduce them to books they'd probably never choose. If I read one Gary Paulsen book to them and tell them there's a dozen more, they're more likely to look for another Gary Paulsen book.
Which leads to...
4. Talk about books. I talk to kids about books all the time. I ask them what they're reading. I tell them what I'M reading. I even keep my own reading calendar where I track minutes read each day and I show it to them so they can see how seriously I take reading (it's all mostly made up statistics, but you all know that I do read).
I never tell them they have to read a certain book, but I do make suggestions. My feelings aren't hurt if they don't take me up on the suggestion, because at least the conversation about a book happened.
5. Provide time in school (even when it goes against the curriculum). We don't have silent reading time. However, sometimes you just need a break between the intensive afternoon of 90 minutes of reading instruction and 60 minutes of science/social studies. So, again, I'll carve out some time. Instead of DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) or SR Time (Silent Reading Time), I'll just say "Find a book, find a spot" and they can sit wherever they want and read until timer goes off. They have one minute to get settled and then 15 minutes to read.
When I taught 2nd grade, I read with them for 30 minutes, as it was part of the curriculum. If they saw me reading a book, they were more likely to read and not talk.
Now, I often use that 15 minutes to DIBELS test, but sometimes I do read with them also.
6. Give them accountability for at home. I have a calendar that I send home at the beginning of month. It has a place to track minutes read, a place for parents to sign, some basic guidelines, etc. I don't like doing this, but if I didn't provide the structure, some kids would never ever read at home. And even as it is, some kids never ever read at home. I tell them it's graded (and it is) and sometimes that doesn't even make a difference. This calendar will not turn a child into a reader but, like spelling homework, I've found that it kind of strengthens the home-school connection because it's something that parents are familiar with and know what to do with (in this world of Common Core and DIBELS testing...ugh).
7. Give parents tips. Parents always say that their kid reads and I can tell who reads at home and who doesn't just in the same way that the dentist can tell when you don't floss regularly. This is the list I usually rattle off at conferences in October (I should type it up this year and just hand it out).
*Have your child read out loud. The15 or 20 minutes will fly by while you're cooking dinner, driving to practice, etc. If it's hard at first, set a timer for ten minutes to start off.
*Ask questions about what your child just read. Focus on characters, setting, prediction, drawing conclusions, and sequence. Important: Drawing a conclusion is a learned skill.
*If your child wants to read silently, try this first: Have them read a page of the book out loud. They shouldn't make more than 5 mistakes (I'd stand over their shoulder so you're reading it too). If they make more than 5, the book is too hard.
*Don't let them read the same book over and over again. I've had a couple of students insist that Charlotte's Web was their favorite and I'd see them reading it again...and again. That's fine for your spare time, but we don't learn anything if we reread the same book over and over. Plus, that's a 2nd-3rd grade book. A 4th grader, at a 4th grade reading level, who has already read that book just needs to put it on a special shelf and move on.
*Model. Read a book while they read a book. Burn through those 20 minutes together. They don't need to be read to always, but they need to see good habits in reading as they do with nutrition, exercise, good behavior, etc.
Any tips to add?
Parents, what do you do at home?