(In Which a Mother Rouses Her Child)
The trouble began one evening in the after-dinner slump.
As my then 1st grade daughter rolled around on the floor, she whined,
“I don’t want to go to school. Can I please stay home from school tomorrow?”
We commenced a discussion on the unlikelihood of that.
Having gone round this circle more than one time, I realized she was making a cry for attention. I snuggled with her and listened to everything she said. She had had a fun day, actually, including playing at a friend’s house after school.
But now she was tired. That makes her think she is bored.
“Can I read you a story?” I offered.
“How about one of the Cobble Street Cousins books?” I suggested.
She bounded off the couch, grabbed the book Special Gifts (Cynthia Rylant), and nestled in my lap.
I read a couple of its short chapters and she filled me in on some of the details I had missed with others in the series.
Then I realized the sun was waning and I wanted to squeeze in a walk on this rare warm March evening.
“I have to go for a walk now. Do you like this book?”
I laid the book in her hands and extricated myself from the couch.
When I returned, the short chapter book was finished. An hour or so of reading with no interruptions from our daughter who still says, “I don’t like reading!”
In Which the Author Blames Technology
In a day of Netflix, apps, and DVR, I find that many children have a higher threshold in their resistance to identifying as a book lover:
A kid who chooses to read.
Digital media has them spoiled—and slightly drugged, I’m afraid.
- Quick entertainment.
- Immediate gratification.
- Brain flat-lining.
- Good stuff! 😉
We’re guilty of letting too much of the digital glump into our kids’ minds, I know.
Our young daughter serves as one case study. For about 6 months now, she has been reading chapter books and enjoying them a lot while she reads them. At least any outsider would naturally assume that she is enjoying them because she doesn’t stop reading the book until it is finished—one or two hours later.
And she has read oodles of them!
- Junie B. Jones
- Cobble Street Cousins
- Magic Tree House
- Magic Fairy Books
- Nancy Clancy
- And even some informational books to boot!
Nevertheless, when I suggest that she enjoy her free time with a book, she always refuses:
“I don’t like reading.”
In Which Skill Precedes Identity for Reading Motivation
In a world of ever-ready distraction, the stillness of certain habits, such as book reading, has to be learned…and perhaps over-learned. For awhile, a teacher or a parent may still need to read aloud part of a book to bait the hook. So, please don’t give up if your child or student hasn’t grabbed hold of the reading bug yet.
Please, please, do not say to yourself, “Some children just won’t ever like to read.”
That. Is. Not. True.
Truly, she has just not found the right book or set of reading experiences. And yet, at some miraculous time, after hundreds of hours of entertainment holding a book, rather than an i-device, a lucky child will learn that she likes to read.
Perhaps she even loves it.
She identifies herself as a book lover:
A kid who chooses to read.
We’re not there yet, with our youngest daughter…..
….but we’re close.
In Which the Author Proposes Some Resources for Reading Motivation
As my husband and I continue our pursuit of developing our youngest daughter’s identity as a book lover, we attempt gimmicks, tricks, and contexts that are individualized to her particular personality. We’re not going to have Weird Medical Facts binge with her because just the sound, let alone the sight, of such books would send her scurrying away!
And yet, I know at least one of my dear readers just perked up with the thought of Weird Medical Facts because she, or one of her young friends, is a Weird Medical Facts-type person.
Some tricks work for just about all. For instance, who wouldn’t take you up on the offer of hot cocoa, cookies, and a book?
However, hot cocoa may not always be feasible. And some tricks inspire just certain personalities.
What’s a teacher with a classroom of 25 to do?
Beyond the typical advice of:
- displaying a lovely classroom library,
- doing book talks (aka book advertisements),
- creating cozy reading corners,
- providing professionally narrated audio books,
- getting excited about your daily read-aloud, and
- encouraging children to select their own choices,
I offer you a curated list of further ideas, tricks, and inspiration from all over the interweb. Click here for Reading Simplified’s Pinterest board: Motivate Others.
Please visit the Pinterest page for over 100 pins to help you consider ways to create a little spark in your class’s reading day. Consider following our Reading Simplified boards while you’re at it to not miss our top picks across the web for how to teach reading.
Are you thinking about that one kid who is able, but just not choosing to read? Search the Pinterest board for what might ignite his interest.
Or, is your class as a whole in need of a shot in the arm for their independent reading time? The Pinterest board may be the missing dose.
I pray that before the end of this school year, you will kick back your heels in gratification seeing so many little readers blossoming into book lovers under your care.
May each child identify as a book lover.
A kid who chooses to read.
Please let me know if you have a great idea to motivate others with or if you discovered some inspiration on the Pinterest board. Share the wealth!