my 9 year old son
5 things I did to help my son become a better reader
Here are five things I did to help my sone become a better reader: Those of you who are blessed with sons who embrace reading from a very young age, a glass of wine to you! But for many of us it is an ongoing battle. When my son was younger I was faced with the great challenge of how to help nurture in him a love of reading. It was always a struggle, especially when it came to having him read books that were at his level. At his previous school in New York, Hackley School, he was not the worst reader at all, but I always felt that he needed to build his reading stamina, and be encouraged to pick up a book on his own without me directing him to do so. His school had an excellent reading program and there was a reading specialist on the staff to guide the reading curriculum in the classroom, as well as to identify where every child was on the reading spectrum.
Recognizing that I had to do more than the minimum to generate a love of reading, I found that the following steps were useful in helping things along.
I continued to read to him every night
As well as creating a regular reading ‘habit’, and a love of stories and storytelling, this is also a great way for parent and child to bond and also makes for a calm and relaxing end to the day which is good for both of you.
I took him to the library
I took my son to the library at least once a month and let him choose his own books. He gravitated more towards graphic novels especially Captain Underpants, Calvin and Hobbes and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Initially I was appalled, but then I reassured myself that “backdoor reading” is just as good as “standard reading”.
I got online memberships
I got memberships to and used platforms like Reading Eggs (readingeggs.com) which is very interactive and fun and Raz Kids which is part of Reading A to Z (readinga-z.com), that allowed him to record himself and I would play it back to him. This helped him identify his reading level and kept him interested because there are a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books to choose from.
I let him see me reading regularly
As part of a book club, I made sure that my son was aware of my reading activities, and monthly meetings. In his presence, I did not only read books but read newspapers, magazines, brochures, manuals, anything that I could get my hands on. This allowed him to see that reading is a key gateway to the world and new opportunities, as well as something that can be done for simple pleasure.
I took away distractions
We had just one television in the house, and made the decision that we would just let it fail and not replace it. I sacrificed lots of great television programs, but found that the internet was a great alternative where I got news and entertainment instantly. My son slowly began losing interest in watching television and found refuge in reading. We did not have video game consoles either, so having to wean him off XBox or Nintendo was not an issue. Network television shows were replaced with online documentaries, great movies and on-demand internet entertainment. We slowly introduced appropriate apps to create a balance.
Now my son is a true reader, and I find it difficult at night to make him part with his books. I often come to his room at night and ask him please to put the book away and turn off his lights, whilst secretly celebrating this major accomplishment that means that his life too is now enriched by a love of reading. These are very simple yet powerful steps I used to help my son become a better reader.