School Beat — April 1, 2010

Ignite the reading spark

by SHARON WELLS, Principal
Parkside Elementary School

Do you have kids who compare having to read to getting shots at the doctor’s office? Sometimes we have to “band aid” this attitude with some creativity, providing motivation for our kids to read.

As parents we are responsible for assisting our kids with tasks they don’t necessarily find desirable, such as regularly brushing their teeth, dressing properly for the weather, healthy eating, and many other things they may not always choose to do without our guidance. Motivating kids to read should be right at the top of that list.

Research shouts from the rooftops that early literacy is critical to developing lifelong readers. There are a variety of ways to bring reading to life for your children on a daily basis and especially when you see a lack of interest from them when it comes to reading.

Consider trying some of these opportunities:

•            Remember that reading doesn’t have to be a chapter book! It can be anything you have available in your house—newspapers, magazines, journals, joke books, cook books, coffee table books, etc.

•            Model, model, model! If your kids see you reading, they are being influenced to read.

•            Focus book choices around the interests of your children. If they love riding dirt bikes, find a dirt bike magazine or visit the outdoor sports section of your library. Your kids love animals? Find interesting animal tales or encourage them to read articles online about their favorite pets.

•            Make finding the reading material half the fun! Take a family field trip to your public library. Buy a book to put under the Christmas tree. Have them earn books to buy from our local bookstores. Buy a magazine subscription for a birthday gift.

•            Read aloud to your child. Find a regular time each day to read an adventurous story to your child that will hold their interest. They will soon be begging you for “just a little more!”

•            Tie reading to technology. Discover literacy rich websites. Read up on your favorite authors online. Encourage your children to participate in literacy blogs with other kids their age on trusted sites.

•            Let reading serve a purpose. Look up recipes that you can cook together. Investigate travel sites for an upcoming vacation. Read the book before you see the movie!

Finally, the Rockford community is invited to hear Mary Bigler—a respected and entertaining speaker on motivating children to read—at the Rockford Freshman Center on Thursday, April 29. Free dinner and daycare will be offered, and you will leave inspired and enthused to promote literacy at home. Please look for detailed information to be coming home with your children soon. Together Rockford can raise a strong community of readers!

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