I love the written word. My nose was in a book from the time I learned to read until the day Iowa State University’s English department sucked all joy of reading right out of my soul by forcing more books down my throat than I could handle (but that’s a story for another day.)
When I was young it was Sweet Valley Twins, Babysitter’s Club and Nancy Drew. As I got older I began reading things like Gone With the Wind and Frank Peretti books. Being taken to another world through the words on a sheet of paper was a favorite pastime. As I have returned to the wonderful world of books after long post-college reading hiatus, two of my children have entered.
Carter is an avid reader. If the book or magazine is good, he’ll lose track of time reading it. It makes me smile to watch him, and shocks me a little that he can read as fast as I can.
Owen did not inherit my love of books. As a struggling reader early on, books were synonymous with hard work not fun. In early second grade, when he was behind the reading benchmark, we implemented a reward system as an incentive for him to read. A silly band for every 10 minutes worked like magic. From there we moved on to football cards and by the end of second grade, he had a coffee canister full of silly bands, hundreds of football cards and a good handle on reading.
We have since changed our strategy a bit. The boys chart their reading and earn money for it, which they can save up for things like an airsoft gun (Owen) or a Kindle (Carter). They are also required to read 10 minutes in the Bible each day before using their electronic gadgets. (They may not think so now, but they will come to realize that reading the Bible is a better use of time than playing Tiny Tower.)
It is a blessing that Carter enjoys reading, but I am not disappointed that Owen doesn’t have the same love. Our point in encouraging him to read is not that he will become a bookworm, but that he will become a competent reader. And he is well on his way to that.
I’d love to hear the tactics you use on your reluctant readers. Who knows, we may need to change our approach again, and it would be great to have some ideas in advance.