“My child hates reading!” I hear this a lot from parents. When I was a child, I did not like reading either. After finishing graduate school, I grew a love for reading. When I was single, I would spend Friday and Saturday evenings in my local Barnes and Noble reading books. It was the most comfortable and relaxing environment.
When did my sudden desire to read come?
My desire to read came from having the freedom to finally indulge in material that interest me. In school, we are given reading assignments from text books and paperback books suggested by teachers and professors. Most of those reading assignments were boring to me. It gave me the mindset that all reading was boring.
Furthermore, while growing up, my mother encouraged us to read. However, the only books I remember having in the house were adult Bible stories, Encyclopedias, and novels. Again I found those boring. We did have one local library in our hometown that was located about 25 minutes from our home. We didn’t get there often because 25 minutes was considered a long way in my small hometown.
We had a school library that I could have easily borrowed books from. However, my mindset was all reading was boring so I only stepped foot in the school library when I had to.
While in graduate school, I started a business where I would go out to local elementary schools and teach financial literacy. My work was funded through a grant and I got paid $100 every time I taught a class. The MBA students were helping me teach those classes as well. This experience got me really interested in business.
I started reading financial literacy, self help, and business books by Robert Kiyosaki, Jack Canfield, and T. Harv Eker. Reading a book a week was nothing for me. The secret to my love for reading was finding books that could teach me what I wanted to learn.
While pregnant with my son, I started reading books of prominent male leaders such as Malcolm X, Bill Gates, Congressman John Lewis, Frederick Douglas etc. My purpose was to find out their mother’s roles in their lives. I wanted to know if their mothers were strict, lenient, nurturing, supportive, entrepreneurs, submissive etc. I found the mothers to have all sorts of personalities, roles, and traits. However, the one theme that stood out in each book were the men were avid readers.
So when my son was born, I wanted to ensure that he liked reading. To this day, he loves reading. We visit the library once or twice a week (pre Coronavirus). He is five-years-old and reads on a 4th grade level. He started blending sounds at 21 months.
Here is a video of my son reading to my brother when he was 25 months.
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There were three things I did to grow my child’s interest in reading. These tips are in the questions that parents should ask themselves when their child does not like to read.
Let’s Get Started
The first question: Are you giving your child books they are interested in?
As previously mentioned, I usually visit the library once or twice a week (pre Coronavirus). During my visits, I am always perusing the shelves for books on various topics. Whatever topic your child has an interest in, there is a book about it. There are books on video games, wrestling, superheroes, cartoon characters, animals, sports figures, princesses, dinosaur poop, farting, arts and crafts, etc.
If your child expresses interest in a topic, get some books on that subject matter. It will make the process of reading easier and more interesting.
Remember those boring adult Bible stories we had growing up? Well I have plenty of children’s bible story books with colorful characters and writing that my son loves to read.
I know many children, have reading assignments from school. Try to use weekends or evenings to dive into books that fit their interest (thats if they are not in the school books).
The second question: Is your home literacy rich?
When my son was three-years-old, he spent the night at a family member’s house. He had a wonderful time playing and getting attention from loved ones. One of his first statements, after picking him up, was our family member didn’t have any books. I could tell he was shocked by this. I was surprised that my three-year-old had this observation in someone else’s home.
I then realized that he was used to seeing books and words all over our home. We have a book shelf on each level of our home. On the third floor, my son has a book shelf in his room that is filled with at least 50 library books plus others we own. Our second level contains a shelf with over 200 books that my husband and I have accumulated over the years. Our basement also has a book shelf. Books are everywhere!
Not only it is great to have books in the home, but take it a step further by reading those books to your child at least 15 to 20 minutes a day.
Books are not the only way to make your home literacy rich. I have made a list of 30 Ways to Create a Literacy Rich Home.
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The third question is: Do your children see you read?
I often hear the phrase that children do what we do more than what you say. When I became a mom, this saying became evident to me.
We constantly tell our children to read. Many times they are thinking to themselves, “I never see you read, so why should I?” Often our children see us, in our free time, watching television, on our phones, or on the computer. There is nothing wrong with this but we should let them see us pick up a book, especially if we are encouraging them to read.
My son has been read to since he was in the womb. I would go to the library and check out children’s books to read to him while I was pregnant.
When he was born, I continued to go to the library and get at least 25 books at a time. Now that number has increased to 50 books. It would probably be more if the library allowed me to check out more books.
I remember talking to my mom on the phone and telling her I just borrowed a lot of books to read to my son. My mother replied “How many books did you check out for yourself?” My answer was “none.” I was so focused on getting my son books, that I didn’t choose any for myself. The next time I went to the library, I checked out books for myself.
This action made a difference. When my son is playing independently, I will often read a book. On long road trips or during times to myself, I am turning the pages to a book. Sometimes, my son will stop playing to sit beside me and ask what I am reading. Once he asked why I WASN’T saying any words while reading. I told him I was reading silently. Soon after this encounter, I saw him sitting in his room reading silently to himself.
So, these are the questions you should ask yourself if you have a child that does not like to read. Ponder over them.
I hope this helps!