"If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime."
-Lao Tzu, Chinese Proverb
Teaching a child to read will feed a child for a day, maybe even a lifetime. However, will the child catch quality fish? Why not take this lesson to the next level? Helping your child to become a lifelong reader, is similar to teaching a man to fish. Learning to read is quite vital in surviving in our world. Creating lifelong readers helps a child not only survive but thrive. It opens a new “sea” of entertainment, knowledge, companionship, and so much more.
Six ways to create lifelong readers:
1. Find interesting books: Our world is abundant with a tapestry of vibrant books, in which to read. Help your child explore different genres until he or she finds genres or books of interest. My oldest daughter found her love in historical fiction, mini-mysteries, science books, and stories with multiple endings. My youngest daughter enjoys animals, cowgirls, and humor books.
Here are a few of our favorites from each category:
American Girl Mini-Mysteries
Who Was Walt Disney
The Glow of the Spotlight: My Journey with Rebecca
National Geographic Weird but True
My America: Season Of Promise: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary
Charlie the Ranch Dog
Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse
Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy
2. Choose age appropriate books: After finding a genre your child likes to read, I recommend you find an age appropriate book in this particular genre. Level It Books and Scholastic's Book Wizard are great resources. Level It Books is an app that allows you to scan your book with your cell phone to provide the reading level (You can enter the title manually as well). You can create databases of your personal collections of books with their designated reading levels. Teachers, you can even maintain a digital library of all your books.
Scholastic's Reading Wizard provides the grade level equivalent and the interest level of the book. This site will also list free resources for the books if available. Click here for activities for The Legend of the Bluebonnet. What if you do not know your child's reading level? Refer to articles such as this one to determine if a book is at level within your child's reading ability.
3. Get hooked on stories together: Make reading together fun. Reading specific chapter books each night can be something you and your child can both look forward to at the end of a long day. If it is a series, your child might choose to read the next book on their own. The child may also choose to read ahead in their spare time to find out what will happen next. Another way to get hooked on stories together is to research the book topic. Find a local field trip or try a virtual field trip with which to tie into the book.
4. Create a reading log: Sometimes physically writing down your child's progress can spark a flame of interest. Documenting a child's reading progress can provide the child with a sense of accomplishment. The child might also decide to push a little further in order to read more than the previous week. Whether you decide to add some incentive or reward for a goal reached, is a personal preference. Incentives can range from stickers at the end of a week, a trip to the library, or a new book. Check out this free reading log from Teachers Pay Teachers. Here sample of our reading log:
5. Start a book group: If your child is a social butterfly, why not incorporate this into their reading goals? Book clubs can be a fun way to introduce children to the world of reading. The children can have adult or a peer-based discussion, based upon the needs of the students. Book swaps are another great option. Kids will enjoy reading what their friends are reading. A book swap can also help save a little money. Click here for information on how to start a book club.
6. Make activities with the book: My daughters love to do crafts or follow-up activities before, during, or after reading a book. The possibilities are endless. Many activities can promote discussion, comprehension, and a deeper enjoyment of the book. Here are a few activities:
SkippyJonJones Presto Chang-o:
Activities to go with Books by Laura Numeroff
55 Dr. Seuss Activities
Here are a few pictures of our SkippyJonJones Activity:
Overall, know a child's desire to read may not happen overnight. In fact, it is often a continuous process. Your child may experience growth, but setbacks may be encountered as well. Pressuring your child to read could hinder the process. Patience and consistency will pay off when trying to instill a love of books in a child. It is important to enjoy the process with your child. Be creative. Brainstorm unique strategies for your child, as every child learns differently. One of the best gifts you can give your child amongst love and care is the gift of knowledge, adventure, and enjoyment found in an exceptional book. Get your lures ready. The catch of the day will encourage lifelong readers.
Do you all have tips which have helped your child, become a lifelong reader? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.