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Reading Without Tears

It’s a fact: most young students slip a bit in reading ability over the summer, but only if they don’t read. So how do you encourage reading if your child would actually rather clean the house than pick up a book?

First, straight bribing often backfires since reading is often then seen as a chore rather than a gateway to other worlds or ideas or interesting information. (I may blog another time about our mistake with this!)

So what does work?

  • Read yourself. This is probably the most effective tool for encouraging your child to read on a summer day. Magazines, e-readers, newspapers are all acceptable, as are library books.
  • Talk with librarians. Take your child to the public library and have them share with the librarian a few titles of books they liked. Librarians often know best, and children may be more likely to take their advice than yours. Check out events, too. My kids loved story time both at the library and at our local bookstore.
  • Read aloud. While DVDs may make car trips fly by, brains show almost no activitywhen watching television (and that includes educational programs!) Listening to parents read—or audio books—fires up the brain since we have to make sense of the words. Most libraries have titles you can download to your music players. You can also see reviews. Some of the best narrations I’ve heard are
    • The Roald Dahl books. Jeremy Irons reads James and the Giant Peach. Eric Idle of Monty Python fame reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
    • Peter and the Starcatchers, and all the Harry Potter books. Jim Dahl narrates these with countless different voices.
    • The Charlie Bone series. Great fun.

Check The Read-Aloud Handbook (Trelease) for more suggestions. Some books have too much description to be effective as read-alouds.

Be wary of requiring 20 minutes a day, but by bringing books everywhere, by encouraging a book break on a hot afternoon, by visiting places where books are loved, and by reading yourself, you might find that your child starts realizing that books are great friends to have around.

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is