Show kids your love for books

Ask the experts

January 05, 2000|By Susan Rapp | Susan Rapp,Village Reading Center

As a reading specialist at Columbia's Village Reading Center, I get a lot of questions from parents trying to encourage their children to read. Here's one I'd like to share with you.

Our 8-year-old son loves to be read to, but he doesn't like to read books on his own. How can we motivate him to want to read?

Begin by thinking about what motivates you to do something. To be motivated you will most likely need to:

* feel that the end result or the goal is important to you

* believe you are capable of accomplishing that goal

* have a sense that the steps to achieving it will be worthwhile and enjoyable.

As parents, you will play a significant role in helping your son become motivated because you serve as role models for him. Therefore, first and foremost demonstrate a love of reading and show him that you think reading is important. Let him see you reading. Better yet, set up a half-hour of daily reading time for the whole family. Help him identify goals that can be achieved through reading. Assemble a toy by reading the instructions together, cook something by following a simple recipe or read the directions to a game you're about to play.

Through your actions, you can convey to your son that you think he will be able to succeed at reading. Let him talk about books and reading in meaningful discussions. This can be an important factor in developing your son's perception that he is a reader.

Eight-year-olds are moving from assisted to independent reading. At this age, children take pride in demonstrating their skill at reading for any listener. Listen to him read and let him retell a story. Listen to him when he talks to you and try to discover his particular interests. Eight-year-olds are very active, too, so catch him on the run with short books, joke books, even comic books. He can also understand more than he can read, so read aloud more complicated and complex stories that will be of interest to him.

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