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  • Writer's picture Kathy Cassel

Getting Your Preteen Excited About Reading

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Children first entering school are usually anxious to read, but sometimes that enthusiasm ends by mid elementary years. Reading is required for school work and often becomes a chore. Nintendo, sports, and time with friends seem more appealing.

As a parent who desires a child to read, the advantages of reading are obvious:

Books can be read and reread as many times as desired. If your preteen shows a strong liking for a book it can be added to his personal library. If he has a kindle, he can have his whole library of books with him at once.

Books cover a wide variety of interests. Everything from butterfly collecting to battleships can be explored through books. Your child can explore his latest passion whether it is dinosaurs or dragons, scuba diving or race car driving.

Books can go anywhere. Your child can spend waiting time for doctor and dentist appointments reading. Books can go on vacation with you, or in the case of a kindle or other reading device, his whole library can travel. Free time throughout the day can be spent with a book.

Books build vocabulary, critical thinking, and cognitive skills.Your child will be required to use reading throughout his whole life in a variety of circumstances.

These are only a few of the obvious advantages of reading.

But what do you do if your preteen doesn't show an interest in reading?

* Model reading. Your child will believe reading is fun more if he sees you reading than if you lecture him about it. Let him see you reading. Share events in your books.

* Read aloud to your child. Too often we stop reading to children when they can read for themselves. Reading aloud to your child allows him to enjoy the story without struggling with unfamiliar words and sentence structure.

* Read at bedtime. If you have children of different ages, try to pick a book in the middle range that will still excite your older child or read to them at different times. You can even have the older children read easy books to the younger ones. If you have both boys and girls, choose books for the boys. A girl will listen to a boy's story but boy's seldom stick with a story written for girls. Try to read a chapter a night. Choose a variety of books. If you start a book and no one enjoys it after two or three chapters, quit. Choose another book rather than having them sit through one they don't enjoy.

* Set aside time for silent reading. Call out for pizza one night a week and have everyone in the family silently read their favorite books during that time. Have a set time, usually around twenty minutes works well, and then have each child share his book.

* Help your preteen find books they will enjoy. Here are some guidelines for choosing the right books for your child:

· What excites him? Hobbies and interests change. Keep current and help him find books to expand his knowledge in these areas.

· What special needs is your teen facing? Divorce, moving, making friends, fears, and other needs are address in a variety of books. Skim books first to determine if the value system is acceptable to you.

· What authors or series has your child enjoyed in the past? Find books by the same authors or similar series.

· Introduce your child to a wide variety of books such as mysteries, westerns, poetry and science fiction.

· Encourage non-fiction categories including self help (friendships, clothing styles, study skills), biographies, hobbies, science (rockets, cars, stars) and poetry of different kinds. Respect your child's preferences and don't insist a book be read.

* Select book that tie-in with everyday life. If you're planning a trip, read about locations you'll visit. Find books to tie-in with holiday celebrations and special events as well as ordinary events.

* Allow your child to arrange a special reading spot. This can be as simple as a beanbag chair or a pile of throw pillows in your child's room. Let your child have some say in arranging the reading spot. Set tempting books and magazines nearby.

Getting your child hooked on books may seem an impossible task and it won't happen overnight, but you can make strides toward it. Learning to read for enjoyment now will give your child a lifetime of adventure through books and develop lasting skills and interests.

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