Reading books for fun can be a great way to teach kids to read. Instead of memorizing letters and treating it like homework, they can fall headfirst into extraordinary worlds – and learn at the same time!
It doesn’t matter how old they are or how reluctant they’ve been about books in the past. The key to cultivating a reader is all about catching their interest, dangling the bait, and staying dedicated to the pursuit of reading. With enthusiasm and a little careful planning, you can have your child reading books for fun in no time.
When you teach kids to read, it’s important to keep things fun and engaging. Once you prime the pump, you’ll likely find that your child is reading books for fun rather than viewing the activity as a tedious chore.
The History Of Reading
While verbal communication is over six million years old, the act of reading is relatively new (in the grand scheme of things). The first authored works occurred nearly 6,000 years ago and consisted of pictures carved in stone tablets. In 2000 BC the Phoenicians (think “phonetics”) invented the first alphabet and then 1,000 years later the Greeks upgrade this consonant-only alphabet to include vowels.
Fast forward about another 1,000 years and we find the first bound books. This occurred generally around the same time as the first literature movement that was dominated by the Greeks (especially Homer with The Iliad and The Odyssey). This was likely the start of reading for enjoyment rather than just reading for education and communication.
The hobby of reading books for fun hasn’t really changed all that much over the millennium. But it is fascinating to consider the evolution of reading media. Comparing the early stone and clay tablets with today’s electronic books just shows that the presentation mechanism of the written word has changed far more than the written word itself.
Reading Fun Facts – Did You Know?
- A typical person reads between 200 and 250 words per minute in non-technical material. On the other hand, speed readers typically read 1,000 – 1,200 words per minute.
- The average person reads less than one book per year (not a fun fact). But by reading just 30-60 minutes per day, a person can devour about one book per week.
- The longest novel originally published in English is Sironia, Texas by Madison Cooper. The novel has over a million words! Most novels range between 50,000 and 100,000 words.
- The most popular children’s book of all time (based on sales) is The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey.
Getting Started – Teach Kids To Read
Getting your child started reading books for fun isn’t really all that difficult. To more quickly engage your child, pick topics and levels consistent with his or her interest and reading skills.
Books tend to be divided by genre and/or age group. For children’s books, the three age groups you’ll find most often are:
- Beginner – Very simple books, usually with pictures, intended for small children or early readers.
- Middle reader – Longer, more challenging books that span anywhere from elementary school to early junior high.
- Young adult – Also known as YA. Written for teenagers and above. May contain mature themes not necessarily suitable for younger children.
Genres are a bit trickier, since they tend to overlap (action/adventure with romance, humor with mystery, etc.). A good thing to remember is that the publishers label the books, not the authors themselves. So it doesn’t matter if the author thinks they’ve written a stunning masterpiece of human drama – if it’s about an alien, it will be under sci-fi.
The great thing about reading books for fun is that it’s completely free! Sure, you’ll want to build your child’s library once they discover the joys of the written word. But thanks to libraries and book swaps, you can teach kids to read with nothing more than some time, a quiet place to read, and some consistent encouragement and praise.
The Steps Of Reading Books For Fun
As a parent, you want to reinforce the important of reading books for fun. While this may come naturally to some kids, it may be more of a chore for others. It’s always good to have a reward plan in place to reinforce not only the act of reading but that reading should fun. So when you teach kids to read, the most important initial step is deciding on how you will reward your child.
Based on your child’s interests and current reading level, establish a reading list of five to 10 books. Take a trip to your local library with your child and pick out two or three selections from your list that pique your child’s interest the most.
Find a quite place where you and your child can spend time reading together. This location should be well-lit yet cozy and you should also be able to talk freely (the library usually isn’t the best place to teach kids to read).
Get reading! Whether you’re teaching your child to read or reading as a way to spend time together with your child, take regular breaks and reinforce the fun of reading. This could be through rewards or simply discussing what you both have just read.
As your child reads each book, continue to go down his or her reading list and add to the list as appropriate. Remember to consistently reinforce the “fun factor” of reading books for fun by using positive motivational methods.
Tips And Tricks To Teach Kids To Read
The following tips and tricks can help you teach kids to read and establish the wonderful hobby of reading books for fun…
- Always remember that reading is supposed to be fun. Help your child pick out her initial reading list but make sure the list is of books that she’s interested in. Just because you read the book as a child doesn’t necessarily mean your daughter will have the same interest in it.
- Don’t force a reading level on your child. If your son isn’t reading at a level consistent with his age, continue to encourage him by focusing on the fun of reading. At this stage, don’t focus on the reading level as much as rewarding your son for reading. However, if reading challenges persist, you may want to discuss options with a learning professional.
- To help encourage reading, scan the books first and write down certain “clues” that your child must find when reading. These clues will then lead to a reward. This process will usually help improve concentration as well as reinforce reading as a fun hobby.
Expanding Your Child’s Reading Hobby
Once your child is immersed in reading books for fun, here are a few ideas for ways to keep him or her engaged…
- As your child continues to read books on her list, continue to take trips to the library or bookstore and find new titles of interest. Not only will you be spending valuable time together, you’ll also be able to check out new titles as they come out.
- Buy or build a bookcase that your child can use to display his own library of books.
- Buy your child an electronic reading device as a gift or reward.
- If your child is an advanced reader, ask her if she would be interested in helping teach kids to read as a tutor.
Related Reading Resources
Check out the following online resources for more information about how to teach kids to read…
U.S. Department of Education – government resource with a wealth of reading information for parents.
Scholastic.com – flagship Internet portal for the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.
Reading Rockets – a great reading site that offers strategies, lessons, activities and ideas to help younger children learn to read.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.