Struggling to find enjoyment
If you’re anything like me than you may find it difficult or challenging to get your children to read. Reading for several minutes a day is stressed by my kids’ school and teachers. But motivating kids of any age to read when mobile devices, social media and Netflix are prevalent is not an easy task.
My oldest daughter, who is currently in the fourth grade, is supposed to read everyday for at least forty-five minutes. Getting her to consistently achieve these benchmarks without feeling like we are in a UFC cage match has been an uneasy task.
As a child, I was an avid reader and even more so as an adult. I enjoy reading YA fiction filled with teenage angst and heartbreak, Sci-Fi fantasy to stretch my imagination and steamy Romance for good measure.
As a result of knowing what I like to read, finding books that interest me at the bookstore, which is one of my favorite shopping experiences, or at the library is rarely difficult for me.
Unfortunately, my oldest hasn't been able to nail down her preferred genre; thus finding something she would enjoy is not as straightforward as it is for myself. I have had meetings with her reading teachers, and tried their suggestions. Some have worked better than others, but none seem to yield any lasting results.
My daughter used to love to read about princesses, and so I would bring her home a book about a princess and she would read maybe the first 2-3 chapters and then the book would, quickly, become a DNF (did not finish). I would spend hours in bookstores and libraries speaking with librarians or surfing online communities for recommendations, but nothing seemed to truly stick. Her pile of DNF’s just continued to grow.
Finally about six to eight months ago my oldest began asking me about reading the Harry Potter novels. Now as you know those books are hundreds...I repeat hundreds of pages long. I didn’t want to invest the energy or finances into the books only to watch them be added to her pile of DNF’s.
One day I was perusing my bookcase, which houses my book collection, and realized that I own most of the Harry Potter books. It occurred to me that perhaps she would actually finish a book if I read it with her.
Thus the Bell Book Club was born.
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Bell Book Club
Initially, I was still too timid to launch right in to the Harry Potter books since that series is 7 books long with each book becoming increasingly more complex. So I ran across the book The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell written by Chris Colfer. It seemed interesting enough. It has fairy tales and princesses. Plus it’s the first book in the Land of Stories series, which has 6 books. These books are very much at her reading level and according to the sales clerk at Barnes and Noble they tend to stay that way.
I bought the book for her for Christmas, wrapped it and put it under the tree. I also bought a book for me. When she opened her gift she was, demonstrably disappointed to find one of her presents was a book. I explained to her that I bought the same book for me and that the gift was that we would read the book together and form our own book club.
She actually was excited about the idea. I set a five chapter goal for the end of each week. On the first day, I ensured that she saw me reading the book, and she grabbed her book sat down beside me and began reading too. Before, I knew it she was reading on pace to finish her five chapters.
Two days later my youngest daughter, who is in second grade, started borrowing my book. She wanted to read as well. The book is slightly above her reading level, but she insisted on reading it. That weekend I took her to the library to get her own copy.
She read her book in the mornings after she got dressed, in the car on the way to school, at lunch, in the car on the way home, and in her room at night. As a consequence of my youngest’s earnestness to catch up and be a part of our book club, she spurred on her older sister to read more frequently.
We even had entire evenings where each of us would lie in my bed reading our respective books and reacting to the various plots.
Our book club meetings happened on the weekends. I took the girls out for hot chocolate. We each brought our books, and we only discussed up to the text that my youngest had read. (Keep in mind she’s in second grade and started reading after we did).
This week I finished the book as did my oldest. This was the first time she successfully finished an entire book that wasn’t a picture book. She read all 438 pages and then was ready for the sequel. My youngest has about twenty-five more pages to go, and although she is now reading alone, she has not slowed down. I’m impressed by her fortitude. 438 pages is a lot for a second grader to read in less than one month.
What’s the secret?
Entice your child with the opportunity of reading with you. Book clubs exist for a reason. It’s always better when you have someone with whom you can share your thoughts about the story.
Being able to be a part of the greater conversation drives many people in this age of pop culture. I only started watching Game of Thrones just so I could talk about it with others!
Likewise, both of my daughters were drawn to the idea of being a part of the conversation. They enjoyed sharing their theories and reveled in their confirmations.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to choose a book that will ultimately have a cliffhanger at the end, as it will spur them on towards continued reading. That’s why season finales always end in cliffhangers. It leaves you NEEDING to know what happens next.
Make sure that your reader sees you enjoying the book and delving into the intrigue of what may transpire throughout the plot. Additionally, I learned, a little bit of peer pressure or sibling accountability, doesn’t hurt.
Lastly, make the book club meetings special, something that your kids will look forward to. Serve their favorite meal, or take them out for ice cream or out to the park to discuss and read. The meetings were the reason that my girls read so fervently. They didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet.
That's Cynthia's Mindset on Getting Your Kids Reading Now!
Remember to keep a Live and Learn Mindset, and share your mindset in the comments below.
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