Are you a bookworm but you are raising a book-balker? A child who balks at most of the books you suggest from the shelves and who would rather shovel the snow and clean the toilets before willingly grabbing a book to devour? Many educators and parents are now using the term reluctant reader to describe these kids – the ones we so desperately want to expose to the joys of reading – but who we sometimes turn away from reading because we are trying too hard. Try these printable reading activities and goal trackers with your reluctant or struggling readers, or even with your emerging readers you are trying to keep motivated.
Beginner Bookmarks – These printable bookmarks are divided into 10 minute chunks – when your child has finished reading 10 minutes, he can put a check in the box, place a small sticker in the box, or even use a hole punch to mark his progress. You can decide together what the reward will be when he has completed one bookmark (equivalent to 1 hour of reading). For some kids the completion of the bookmark is the reward, but others might need extra encouragement, such as a coupon to choose the movie for family night or a trip to the local park.
Reach for the Stars – This dot-to-dot printable can be used with the goal that works best for your child. The goal might be to read for 10 or 20 minutes each day, or even just to read 3 pages of a book. Decide that with your child, and then use this printable sheet to track her progress. Each time she reaches a goal she gets to connect a dot.
Recommended Reading – Empower your reader by giving him a voice in regards to the types of books he likes to read. Use this printable sheet for him to share with others the books that he would recommend. Just yesterday I watched as one of my sons handed the local librarian a new hardcover book that he received for Christmas, read once, and told her he would like to donate the book to the children’s collection because it was not one that he really enjoyed but wasn’t available yet on the shelves. The empowerment he felt because he was able to share his recommended reading with other kids was enormous – and he can always check it out again if he wants to re-read it.
Basic Book Report – If your reluctant reader (and maybe writer) hears the words book report, he might recoil in distaste. Sometimes just lightening the load and the expectations alleviates the pressure to not only read the book, but then write an amazing report about the book. Use this basic book report form to help reluctant readers focus on the basics of the book – recognizing authors and illustrators, main characters, settings, and the overall idea.
Reading can be one of the most enjoyable activities for some children, but for others it is a chore and a source of frustration. But we can keep plugging along and trying every trick in the book. As long as we keep trying to expose our kids to great stories and opportunities to listen to and read varieties of books, we keep the reading door open in their lives.
This week I had many glorious moments of a child who had a hard time listening to my instructions. Why is that glorious? Because for one of the first times in his life I can’t get his nose out of his books. In fact, I used to have to use every trick in the book just to get him to select one book from the library. This week, however, I am relishing his distraction because the reluctance to read is being replaced with a reluctance to put the book down on the table. These are wonderful problems to have!
[a portion of this was originally published at BetterParenting.com :)]