Advice for Parents

My Best Advice

(on how to get students to read on their own and enjoy it)

The very first thing you can do is to make time as a family for quiet pleasure reading. The key is for your child to see you as a model, enjoying your own good book or catching up on current events with your newspaper. The second important element is that everyone gets to choose what he/she wants to read. This is not the time to force a particular book upon your child, nor should they do any reading associated with homework. It is a time during which pleasure reading can be shared, with your child reading to you, another parent, or a sibling, or even someone reading to him/her.

While it is likely impossible to have a family reading session that meets these criteria every night, try to set up some sort of regular routine once or twice a week. Consider a weekend morning after breakfast, a Sunday night before the work and school week begins all over again, or one night during the week when your family's schedule of activities is relatively light.

Bedtime reading: If a family reading session is not possible, try to keep up the bedtime-story ritual. As children progress through their elementary-school years, this tradition tends to wane, despite the fact that it continues to be a great benefit.

Just as you probably did when your child was a toddler, begin by reading a favorite story to him/her. Now you can read exciting books that he/she is not yet ready to read on their own — one chapter at a time. In this way, he/she will experience the pleasure of a good book, read bit by bit over time, without the stress of struggling through it on his own.

Then kiss him/her goodnight, leaving him/her just one option for staying up later: continued reading on his/her own. To make this half of pleasure reading successful, surround your child with short books that he/she can read quickly and easily. This is critically important for your child to gain confidence and control over his reading power.

Reading for enjoyment comes naturally for some, but not for others. But if your family is a reading-for-fun family, it may be harder to reject what gives everyone else a good time.

If you would like some suggestions for the books the whole family might enjoy, please email me at hnance@fesd.org!

.