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My first child was born with a book in his hand. I started reading to him before he could hold up his head, and his first phrase was “My book!” By four, he was reading. At six, he read Moby Dick and loved it. Of course, I gave credit where credit was due: to myself. I had done everything right, so that was the obvious conclusion
Fast forward to when my second child was in kindergarten. I had done all the same things with her, but she picked up reading a little more slowly. Even when she could read at grade level, she never enjoyed it. She loved being read to, but just didn’t enjoy reading to herself. As she completed the third grade, I never saw her with a book in her hand, unless it was something I had assigned to her. I wanted her to share my love for reading, but it just wasn’t happening.
In addition to her reluctance to read, my daughter had a lot of trouble with spelling; even her copy work had spelling errors. At nine years old, she couldn’t remember left and right. She also had great difficulty memorizing multiplication facts. She excelled in all of her other school work. She had a tutor who kept telling me to be patient and give her more time, but I began to worry that something was wrong.
After a lot of research, I began to suspect dyslexia (I was wrong). She seemed to have a lot of the symptoms that I had read about. I asked around and found a place that treats children with dyslexia, but to my surprise, they wouldn’t give me an appointment until we had a vision evaluation. I knew her vision was good because we have our children’s’ eyes examined yearly, but this was a different kind of eye doctor.
Our daughter had an evaluation by an eye doctor who specializes in vision therapy. We found out that she had issues with tracking, convergence, visual memory, and several other areas. It was recommended that she receive weekly vision therapy for six months.
After a few months of therapy, we noticed many improvements in our daughter’s problem areas. She had become much more confident in her reading abilities, but she still did not want to read on her own. It seemed that her difficulties had convinced her that reading was just not fun.
So what were parents who love reading and want their children to have a love of books to do? We found several things that helped, and I am happy to say that our daughter now loves to read. Here are a few of the things that we did that made a huge difference.
Audiobooks– This is the very first thing we did. Since reading was hard work for our daughter, we introduced her to audio books. If you have a library card, you can use Hoopla Digital on most devices 100% free. You can borrow up to ten books per month. Hoopla offers ebooks, movies, and audiobooks. Hoopla made it possible for our daughter to explore many types of books. She fell in love with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and discovered that she really enjoys scary books as well.
Read Alouds- I have always read aloud to my children. Some of my most treasured memories are of us going to far away lands or laughing until we cried over a beloved book. I think it is our tendency as parents to stop reading to our children as they get older, but don’t stop. Even middle schoolers love being read to.
Relax your Standards- This one was hard for me. I want my children to read the classics; nothing but high quality lit around here, but those books tend to be on the difficult and lengthy side. I found that my daughter really enjoys Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Before you knock it, try reading it yourself. I have to admit that Long Haul is quite hilarious.
Get Epic!- Nothing has helped our daughter develop a love for reading like Epic has. We started with the free trial, and immediately knew we would be continuing our membership. Epic is wonderful for so many reasons, and we will be writing an in depth review of it later this week. I think one reason that it works so well is that it doesn’t involve me. My daughter can safely explore all the books available and choose exactly what she wants to read (without suggestions from mom). It puts all the power in her hands. There are 25,000 books to choose from, and she can safely browse them without being exposed to inappropriate content.
You Choose books- My children go nuts over You Choose books! They even read them to my four year old and let him choose what happens. There are many that teach history, which makes this homeschooling mama happy.
Fun fact books- Kids are drawn in by books full of crazy facts. When my daughter left the house today, she was looking at one on Epic. She tells us random facts all through dinner. It gives us the warm fuzzies to know she read them all on her own.
Practice what you preach- Let your kids see you read. Keep books all over your home. Raise your child in a book loving home.
Visit the library- There is just something about a real, paper book that ebooks just can’t compete with. Get your child a library card and let them run free in the kids’ section of the library.
All of these things have helped take my child from a reluctant reader to a kid who loves to read. How have you helped your child love reading?