You know THAT child. The other children read their assignments without complaint. They even read books on their own for fun. Not THAT child. THAT child is rolling around the floor crying like they are being beaten because you had the audacity to ask them to read a paragraph out loud. The other children finished their school work a hour ago and THAT child is still refusing to read that same paragraph.
Getting THAT child to read a book for fun? Ha! THAT child wouldn’t read a book for fun if you taped $100 to the back page.
So, you do know THAT child? I have THAT child, too. He’s very intelligent, does math in his head like it’s nothing, remembers everything you tell him, can build anything, and refuses to read almost anything.
This is in such contrast to my daughter who is voracious reader. Her entire homeschool experience has almost all revolved around books. Having her first made me panic that something was wrong with my son. As time has gone on, I realize that he is just fine. THAT child just has different likes and ways of learning.
In a homeschool setting, we have the ability to try new approaches to learning whenever we deem it necessary. This is a huge reason why we homeschool – to teach our kids according to their interests, abilities, and learning styles. This might mean that you need to have different approaches with different children. And, that’s ok. Here are some methods to try with THAT child to get them excited about reading.
Figure Out What The Child Likes
When my son started reading chapter books, I just broke out the same ones my daughter read, like Junie B. Jones, Encyclopedia Brown, Skippy John Jones, and Frog And Toad. He hated them. After one chapter, he was out. I mistakenly thought that he just didn’t like to read or was being disobedient. He was just really bored. These books didn’t hold his attention.
We were at the library once and I told him he had to chose one book. He begrudgingly grabbed the book on the end cap of the children’s section of books (without even looking, mind you) and took it home. His random book choice happened to be the true story about Balto, the famous Alaskan sled dog.
When we got home from the library, my daughter ran to her room with her stack of books to read the afternoon away. THAT child plopped himself on the couch and braced for the torture of enduring quiet reading time. Then, something amazing happened. HE READ THE BOOK! ALL of it!
Not only did he read it, he told me in great detail all about the adventures this dog had and that they were all true. After discussing that book with him and talking about other books we had about dogs, adventures, and biographies, we discovered he liked true stories of adventure. The fictional stories that my daughter had liked just didn’t interest him at all.
From that point on, we looked for adventure stories and biographies of people who did incredible things. And he read them!
Work Reading Into Your Lessons
Even though we figured out what type of books my son liked, we still had to figure out a way to get him to read them. It was apparent that he was not going to be much of a pleasure reader and the books chosen by many of the language arts curriculum were just not going to work. So, I looked for curriculum and lessons that could include true stories, especially of adventure.
Trail Guide To Learning was a perfect fit. It is a 3rd through 5th grade unit study curriculum full of historical adventures. It even came with a a stack of biographies of people like Daniel Boone and Lewis and Clark. My son loved it. He read his way through American History.
Give THAT Child A Reason To Read
While some children (and adults) read for pleasure, often THAT child needs a reason to read. Reading to younger siblings because they can’t, reading the sports section to get the details about last night’s game, or as part of a reading program to earn prizes at the end might be the reason THAT child needs.
One homeschool mom told me that to get her child to read, she has them record themselves reading a book to send it to a far away grandparent. The child reads the book because they love the grandparent. I love creative ideas like this!
Think Outside Chapter Books
Reading doesn’t have to involve chapter books, textbooks, and novels. Adults read blog posts, magazine articles, newspapers, and letters far more often. These contain important information we need to know everyday, so they are so very important to be able to read and understand.
Let your child read age appropriate magazines with articles that interest them. Find websites or blogs with child-friendly content. Let them search the local newspaper for interesting stories. Get THAT child a pen pal. That will help with both reading and writing.
Children tend to not want to do what the parents push them to do, especially THAT child. I stopped pushing my son to follow the same quiet reading time that my daughter loved. We still had reading time. I just didn’t call it that. To him, he was just reading his adventure book as part of his lessons, reading about his favorite sports team, or a letter from a friend. This took the pressure of having dedicated reading time off of him. No more fighting.
Do you have THAT child at home? How do you get them excited about reading? Which of the above suggestions are you going to try?
Related: Don’t miss these literature resources from Homeschooling Today