Motivating Angry Readers

As the last day of school approaches, children are going to find themselves with free time. Instead of sleeping, eat junk food, or watching too much television, keep them reading this summer. (As someone who works at a library, I’m supposed to say that.) But I really mean it. 

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The goal is not to force a child to read–we don’t want to use reading as a punishment. They will only see reading as a bad thing. Instead, we want to motivate them to read and help them learn to love books. So what do we do when a child says, “I’m a good reader, but I don’t like to read.” Or “I hate reading.” And my favorite, “Books are boring!”

Esme Raji Codell, author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, has some suggestions:

  • You can stay up as late as you want tonight, as long as you are reading.
  • I know you like _______. Here’s a book of _______.
  • Here’s a flashlight. I’ve set a place for you in the closet/under the table/on those pillows over there, so you can have a private spot to read.
  • I’ve been saving this present for a rainy day. Here’s a new book/my favorite book from when I was your age.
  • It’s hard to wait! Here, read this, it’ll make the time fly by!
  • Would you keep me company while I sort laundry by reading me an article that interests you from the newspaper/magazine?
  • Tell me about that book you just finished. It looked interesting.

You could also start asking your child random questions about a book sitting on the table. Ask silly questions (things you know couldn’t possibly happen in the book) to get them interested in talking about it.

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