Thursday, February 11, 2010

Non-Readers? (BBT)

How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?

Find what they like to read. Everyone eventually has something they like to read, newspaper or magazine articles, really short stories(flash fiction) or a style of reading, from back to front instead of the mostly accepted front to back. Find a genre they like. Maybe it's Manga, a good comic strip, or fanfiction for their favorite TV show or a blog written by kids their own age. Most kids I used to babysit, thought it was wonderful when I offered to read the books they couldn't. Explaining the story made it more interesting and fun for them and of course, the transportation factor is always the best incentive. Videos and movies are great rewards for reading through a book, it gives a chance to compare what you read to what you see and draws you further into the character's world. Requiring your non-reader to find one thing they would like to read and giving you a report, whether written or verbal, will encourage them to explore options and to find something they enjoy. Because reading is supposed to be fun!

I hated doing book reports and reading for school because the books were boring or all biographies (Sorry to all of you that love those, lol) I wanted so badly to read something else or quit reading altogether. Thankfully, around that particular time, my mom began making trips to our local library for longer than a mere five minutes and I could wander wherever I pleased. I was no longer confined to the American Girls series (an excellent variety of easy reading that I now enjoy--especially the girl of the year books, because of the ethic diversity of their tween characters) or hardcover biographies of people I didn't know enough to care about yet.

The 'breaking point' in a sense, came when Mom borrowed a few Nancy Drew hardbacks and read a few chapters during a break in the afternoon. I wanted to see pictures but couldn't, wanted to follow the story and couldn't get it. But the story wouldn't leave me alone, so I decided that reading it on my own was the next best thing. Never mind that the words were kind of small and the lack of pictures every other page was daunting, but by reading on my own and reading slowly, Nancy came to life and I started imagining secret passageways, thanks to The Hidden Staircase. Once I finished it, that was like the green flag of a neverending race. I have not stopped reading and don't plan to--it's way too much fun!

With all this said, I've used the word "fun" twice for my personal definition of this pastime, however, for some folks, reading is a torturous chore. It takes too long from start-to-finish, the words are difficult or following the story is too much of a headache. In this case, I recommend comic books (^_^) or one of my mom's tricks--we could write our own stories and read those. Because of that particular brand of creative thinking, a secondary incentive to read--was to find new ideas for the stories we were written, apart from that, don't push the issue. At some time or another, everyone reads--even if it's the instructions for that spiffy new coffeemaker/microwave/vacuum cleaner.