Getting unwilling readers to read

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Every year we get hundreds of phone calls from frustrated parents who find it very difficult to get their children to develop an interest in reading. While we’ve found that there isn’t a “one-size-fits all” solution to this dilemma, our literacy experts at Sure Prep have come up with a few tried and true techniques for even the most reluctant readers.

  1. Start with the basics. Find reading material that is interesting to your student. If you are a parent, you already know what interests your child. Do some homework online and find books or magazines on these topics. If you are a teacher or tutor, it may take some sleuth work to uncover your student’s interests. At Sure Prep, we provide an icebreaker activity during the first tutorial session that helps us uncover these interests and we encourage our tutors to find high-interest material during lesson planning time.
  2. Locate high-interest websites. Children are fascinated by the internet, and they spend increasing numbers of hours surfing websites. If you are a parent, suggest new websites to your child and engage him or her in discussions on recent articles or events. For example, if your son is a Los Angeles Lakers fan, visit Laker’s fan sites and tell him about any new interesting developments, trades, or news on his favorite players. Encourage him to go online and read the stories and discuss them together during meals.
  3. Use comic books and picture books. Comic books and picture books are typically short, high-action, and fun to read. Color illustrations are the best, but even books with black and white drawings add interest to the story.
  4. Project-based reading opportunities are everywhere. For example, the  next time you are following a cooking recipe, have your child help read the  instructions and help with some of the tasks. Alternatively, you can have your child help in reading assembly instructions for new purchases.
  5. Use your surroundings. Parents can use the myriad of reading opportunities that surround them, even in the most mundane of situations. For example, at the breakfast table, have your child read the text on the cereal box.
  6. Think white space and font size. There is nothing more intimidating for a reluctant reader than a page jam-packed with text. To motivate these students, it is best to find reading material with larger fonts, plenty of white space, and illustrations.
  7. Read with your child. Start reading with your child at an early age. Even if your students are older, you can purchase chapter books and read them together. Discussing characters, predicting what will happen next, and getting involved will help to engage your child.

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David Dodge

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