What if the Reluctant Reader is Mom?
You’ve heard it so many times, it has become easy to block out. All the experts say, “Read to your children.”
You nod your head in agreement and hold inside your objections. My toddlers are wriggly and don’t want to sit still while I read. I don’t want to sit still while I read. I can’t do the voices. I don’t have the time. I’ve tried, but she turns the page before I’m done. The only book he wants to listen to is “The Little Blue Truck,” and I can’t face it again. I’m not a reader, and my life isn’t so bad.
Then when your child is older, you sit through the painful experience of him sounding out every word. A five-minute reading takes twenty. You fidget, look away from the page, offer encouragement, suggest Daddy listen this time. You end up “helping” by saying the word for her because you just want it to be over.
Finally, he is in third grade and can read simple books on his own. Hurray! Your job is done. Except it isn’t because he doesn’t like to read. He’d much rather watch television or play a video game. But you know he’s supposed to read, so you push him to do it, feeling a twinge of guilt. Maybe if I were a reader, he’d be one, too.
May I offer a tip?
Listen to audio books. Not in place of reading, but to inspire the love of story. Reluctant readers usually have not connected the words on the page with the actual story. Everyone loves story! Begin by listening to part of a great story, while you follow along in the book. Run your finger along with words in the book to show the connection with the audio and the book. Or listen to the book while you’re driving, but read the next chapter from the book at home.
Give the wiggly child something to do with his hands. Paper and crayons. Clay. Legos. Read, but stop regularly, perhaps every paragraph, and say something about the story. Ask the child something. Ask the child to draw or mold or build something related to the story. Ask the child to predict what might happen next.
May I offer another tip?
He’s at the sounding-out stage and you’re ready to jump out of your skin. You’ve read silently all ten lines and he’s only on the third word. You’d rather go clean the toilets, but Daddy beat you to it. Read every other line out loud for him. Follow along with your finger and say the words slowly so he can follow you. But you read them. Feel your blood pressure lower? When it’s his turn, you have to go back to listening to him sound out each letter, but you have hope! Your turn is coming!
Gracious Father, we come before you humbly, acknowledging You are our refuge, our deliverer. We depend on your mercy and grace as we ask for wisdom. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who works within us developing patience and joy. We come to you because of Jesus. Amen.