Reading is one of the most important subjects in education today. To encourage the love of reading, it helps to know why it is so important. I am not a scholar on the topic but I can give some practical reasons.
For starters, if you are reading this blog post then you know how to read, right?? Why are your reading this? Could it be you are looking for encouragement, information, stress reduction? We read for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes we read just because we are nosy. ~smile.
Main Focus Should be Reading
Reading is so important and in my opinion should be the main focus when beginning to educate our children. The foundation for learning is reading. When I began homeschooling my biggest fear was being able to teach my children to read. I didn’t major in education in college, I majored in accounting. I am not a very strong reader. However, the Lord gave me a classroom of four beautiful children to teach and educate for their future endeavors.
As I was preparing for this task before me, I had to find just the right tools to help me teach reading. First, I had to find a curriculum to guide me through the process. Then I had to understand the purpose for teaching reading. Why did my child need to learn to read? It was not just because the law requires that he had to go to school, or was it? No, of course not. Learning to read helps to acquire knowledge, provides mental stimulation, vocabulary expansion, improving memory, increasing analytical and critical thinking, and better writing skills.
I am happy to report that I was able to teach all four of my children to read. YES! Me, a struggling reader with an education in accounting, not in teaching. I am authorized by a higher authority to teach my children to walk, talk, eat, and so much more, including teaching them to read. I am so grateful to be able to say, “I taught my children to read!” See my qualifications.
Encourage a Love for Reading
Once my children began reading, the question became how to encourage a love for reading. My focus then turned to encouraging them. This did not mean I needed to change my curriculum. Nor did it mean I needed to ditch my curriculum and just go to the library. No, not at all. I still needed that guide to help me along to be sure I was presenting the things they needed in the subject of reading. Remember, I didn’t take classes on how to teach reading in college. I did want the guidance to help me along so I looked for a strong curriculum to guide me.
Some folks have told me over the years, just let them read what they want when they want. Are you kidding me? Sorry, but I just don’t agree with this philosophy for educating. I wanted my children to be able to read and comprehend material that they didn’t necessarily want to read. No one really wants to read rental agreements or mortgages but in adult life, these are things that come our way. I wanted my children to be prepared for these tasks ahead by teaching them to read now and being able to read and comprehend even the things they are not interested in reading. It is also a major part in cultivating independence.
How to Encourage Reading
So, what did I do to encourage reading? I added that to the plan! Yep! I planned time for outside reading. The more they read, the better their writing skills, spelling skills, thinking skills, comprehension skills became! One of our favorite times in our daily schedule was extra reading time. After lunch each day, I planned at least 30 mins. of quiet time for reading. No electronics, no interruptions. Sometimes during this time, I would read aloud to all the children. Other times we would all each have our own desired reading that we would read silently.
I remember one particular time I was struggling to get my second child to read. He really disliked reading. He really struggled, but I knew he would need to sharpen that skill for his future. So, I sought books that explored his interests. I found an entire series on one if his interests, and of all things, it was written in a mystery fashion with homeschool kids in action to solve the mystery. There are several books in the series and I really wanted him to read them.
So, I took the first book and one night after the kids were in bed I began to read this little book in order to find the climax of the chapters. My idea was that I would read the book during our extra reading time but just to the climax then I would have to go do something else bookmarking to continue reading the next day. I did this very thing and let me tell you my struggling reader was not happy at all. He said, “Mom please finish the chapter”. I would tell him the bookmark is there and you are welcome to read ahead if you would like but I have to go take care of this other thing right now.
Well, guess what? Three days is all it took. I found him in the corner reading that book and then the rest of the series as well. This helped to encourage him to read and focus on the reading so he could comprehend the happenings while reading. Here is the book series by Cynthia Wall.
Another thing I enjoyed doing was to ask my kids to let me know if there was a particular story they really enjoyed in their reading curriculum. Why? Thankfully, our curriculum exposed my children to all kinds of reading styles and genres. This expanded their knowledge, vocabulary, and thinking skills. In order for them to have that exposure, sometimes the reading assignments were only excerpts of longer stories. Therefore, if my children really enjoyed an excerpt, I would go searching for the rest of the story and allow them to step away from the curriculum for a few days to finish the story. Sometimes there wasn’t more to the story but there would be more by the same author. So, I looked for books by that author for them to read on their own time or during our extra reading time.
Making Reading Fun
We also did the normal suggestions of book reports and such to spur interest. However, I learned from the teacher’s editions in my curriculum, ways to make book reports fun and interesting. They provided ideas like taking a cereal box and covering it and then decorating it with things from the book, mimicking the layout of a typical cereal box. Example: listing contents in the form of ingredients on the side and a short summary on the other side with a maze or word search on the back. they could make a picture about the book on the front. These always turned out fun for the kids and they enjoyed reading the books to find things they could do with their cereal box.
Other ideas might be to create a scavenger hunt as they read the book, looking for certain words or clues, or keeping a journal of events or creating a timeline as they read through the book.
Incentives are great for reading, especially in the summer time. There are so many book clubs and contests children can join within the community and online. Check your local library too.
A great way to get started in encouraging your child to want to read is using BJU Press Booklinks.
Booklinks give so many great ideas as they guide you and your child through a whole book.
Some of our favorite books came from BJU Press JourneyForth books. I knew these were sound and safe from my children to read. I initially thought, “I will read every book before I let them read the book”. Well, that didn’t actually work out with four children that actually took off in their reading and bypassed my reading skills in elementary school. So, I depended on publishers, reviews, and friends to help me choose our library.
Reading is Important
Reading is the most important subject that is taught. Choosing a curriculum to guide us through the reading process is of utmost importance. We chose BJU Press and never looked back. Even my struggling learner surpassed my reading skills. Having the guide kept us from missing out on the literary concepts taught throughout the reading subject. Teaching those concepts was even easier for me when we chose to pull in the Distance Learning teachers to help me with the lesson presentations. We are so thankful!
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How do you encourage the love for reading?