Sneaky Ways To Get Your Learner to Read

Be honest, have you ever had a kid avoid reading with the same horror as eating their most despised vegetable? And being even MORE honest, were you THAT kid?

When raising struggling readers, we have to remind ourselves that reading is a skill that takes practice. And although heading to the library or our favorite bookstore to load up on wonderful titles might seem like a good start, it can often overwhelm our kids and look like an insurmountable task.

So, how about we utilize the age-old vegetable eating strategies and apply them to language? Here are a few tested options straight from the devious mind of yours truly. First and foremost, reading doesn’t have to be scheduled by the half-hour or by chapter. That only makes our kiddos drag their feet. Instead, add “the little reading minutes” into everything. And if you can make those fun – all the better!

When out and about – errands, car rides, etc.

  1. For younger readers, have them look for a particular letter – maybe go through the alphabet like we used to do with the license plate game when on road trips in the 80s
  2. Or, if you use a specific reading curriculum for your dyslexics, have them find the rule (like the Barton Happy rule in Hobby Lobby)
  3. Have them read your shopping list at the grocery store or find the different items. Make sure you have them find the “tuna – in water” or “grade A large eggs” so they have to look for more than just a label or your favorite brand.
  4. Put on an audiobook in the vehicle. Audios are great because they can allow your reader to listen to a book above their decoding level but enjoy a more advanced storyline at their comprehension level. I tried to have the book at our house, and sometimes I would make sure to stop the drive “at a good part” and then let them read the book at home to find out what happened next.
  5. Driving directions – “Look for the exit to Richmond sign”, and “help me find Lane Street” made the drive more of a Search and Find game.

At Home

  1. Cook with your kids, but make THEM read the recipe. Even if you need to help with some parts, reading the directions a little at a time with the action of cooking in between can be a sweet reward, even if it’s only the back of the brownie box.

Leave silly notes for your family members. In their lunch or their backpacks.

  1. Elf on a shelf was long after mine had grown, but our kids read and sent notes to our resident tooth fairy. Actual letters or email messages from loved ones can be short and sweet and don’t feel like work. Think Post It or postcard size, so struggling readers don’t get overwhelmed. Oh – and write legibly.

Scavenger hunts.

  1. Short directions and clues to the next clue were always a summer staple. When it rained, we took them to a big box store and ran one there. My kids were older for that one and divided into teams, “one big kid- one little kid,” and the youngest had to do the reading.

Song lyrics are fantastic for reading. Pick one they especially like – write the words out and then sing them with enthusiasm!

  1. Sometimes sheet music has them broken down by syllable, which made decoding easier for me as a kid.
  2. Use fun places to read to make it more exciting – with a flashlight in a cardboard fort or under the covers.
  3. Have them pick a favorite book and read it to a pet or younger kiddo. Reading a book they know and love builds fluency and confidence and is just as important as decoding new words.

Like Mary Poppins says, “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” If you grab an idea or three from here, remember that all reading can only benefit your learner. When it feels less like a chore and more of a skill used for simple fun, it will be easier.

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