We have been talking this month about a great way to keep summer learning going: reading. Simple, right? Your child or teen picks up (or downloads) a book and reads. But there are lots of books in the world. What if you take your kid to the library and they (or you as a parent) don’t know where to start choosing a book?
Research shows that kids are more likely to read if they pick their own books. However, kids who do not read very often can have a harder time finding books that they like. So one way that parents can help kids to read more may be to help them learn to pick books that will enjoy.
How can you help your child or teen to choose books that will like?
First, give yourself as a parent a pat on the back for supporting your child to read and getting him to a library or bookstore or wherever you are picking out books!
Then, try these tips:
- Help your kid think about the things that she likes and is interested in. Your child is more likely to read about things that she likes. If your child thinks bugs are cool, then help her to look up “bugs” in the library catalog. There are books about almost every topic imaginable so chances are your child can find something about a subject that interests him.
- Ask your child what he why he wants to read a book. Is your child looking for a good story or does he want to learn facts about something? For example, if your child has decided that he is interested in dinosaurs, does he want to read about what dinosaurs looked like and what they ate or would he like to read a story about a dinosaur searching for a home? This will help determine whether your child might like a fictional book or non-fiction.
- Check to see if your child understands what she is reading. This is a good way to figure out if a book might be too hard for your child. Even if she can sound out all the words, if she doesn’t know the meaning of words or understand the storyline, she is not likely to enjoy the book. Read the first few pages after she has read them and ask a couple of questions about the book. Another good way to tell that a book might not be a good fit for understanding is if your child says that it is “boring” or “too hard”.
- Check to see that your child can read the words. Just like with understanding, if your child stumbles over the words when reading, he’s not likely to enjoy it. To figure out if a book has too many hard words for your child to read on his own, ask him to read the first page of the book out loud. Hold up a finger every time he does not recognize a word. If you are holding up five fingers before he finishes a page, the book might be too hard for him to read alone. (If he is really excited about the book, you could read it to him.)
- Keep a list of books that your child has enjoyed in the past. Then you and she can use this list to look for books by the same authors or on the same subjects.
- Ask for recommendations. Librarians are a great resource for finding books that children might enjoy. You can also ask other parents what their children like. And other kids often have great ideas about what their friends might like. You can also check out book lists online. Just type “books about (whatever topic you are interested in) for kids” into a search and you can get lists of recommendations from other parents, librarians, and teachers all over the world.
- Remember that reading doesn’t have to be about books. Maybe your child discovers that he likes comics and that is what he wants to read for fun. Or articles in a cooking magazine. Or even manuals for computers. Lots of things can count as reading materials. And the library and bookstores have many of these options.
All of these ideas work for adults, too. So while your child is reading the great book that he just picked out from the library, you can read your new pick right along with him!