5 Ways Parents Can Encourage a Reluctant Reader

Posted March 20, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Once a child has the motivation to learn to read, you as a parent are in the clear. Sometimes a reluctant reader might need a little nudge to discover the brave new world offered by reading. Here are some suggestions.

1. Let your child choose his or her own books at the library. If your child chooses Captain Underpants, swallow your pride and check out that book. A child who falls in love with reading will most likely continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

2. At the library, you should choose a few books for your child as well. Do a little research ahead of time or ask your librarian for suggestions that respect your child’s ability and interests.

3. Model nuanced reading for your child. Release your inner actor and read with gusto! New readers are so consumed with sounded words out and learning new vocabulary that they often lose track of the story.

4. Read aloud together. Reading together is a wonderful social activity at any age. You and your child share the experience and can discuss or refer back to it later.

5. Encourage your reluctant reader with positive feedback. Given the right reasons, every child can be excited about reading–and writing too. Let your child’s interests lead the way.

[photo by saundraG via flickr]

On the Other Side

Posted October 18, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

          Being on the other side of cancer is easier than being in the middle.  When you’re in the middle, it’s like being at sea and not knowing where you’re going.  Some days were easy, while others were very challenging.  The best parts of being sick were seeing all the friendly nurses and doing art and writing songs.  The worst parts were losing some friends and seeing my mom in so much pain and not being able to see people I loved.  I felt weak and nauseous a lot of the time, but now on the other side, I’ve learned about my self and life.  I know kids can get very sick, I know I can get through tough times, I know that prayer works, and I know that my family will always be there for me.  So, if you are going through hard times, don’t give up hope.  Stay strong.

 By Mary Jo, 11

My Garden

Posted September 9, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


My mom told me to plant a story, so I took my pencil
shovel and planted her past. I planted my mom and my
uncle as kids. My uncle Joe would always get into
trouble. My mom would too, because my uncle played
marbles with his friends, and my mom would whine
because she wanted to play. So my uncle would have to
take care of her everywhere they went or he would get
in trouble. I took my pencil shovel and I planted my
mom as a kid, and she was happy to remember.

By David, 3rd grade

Photo by sGrace via Flickr

If you are sweet chocolate milk, then I am the one who drinks you

Posted June 13, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

Engaging a child’s creativity–and your own–can happen almost any time or anywhere.  Years ago, I studied improvisational acting, which encourages actors to listen closely to one another and “find the game” in a conversation.  Bringing these ideas into parenthood has produced wonderful interactions with my son, who is three years old.  As he’s been learning and exploring language, we’ve invented a few of our own call-and-response games.

One game began suddenly as we were driving.  From his car seat, he mischievously called out, “Mama, you are a tree.”  Seeing an opening for a game, I responded “If I am a tree, then you are a small green leaf.”  Delighted, he offered several more “You are” statements to see how I’d respond.  This “You are” game, in which he calls me an object and I call him something connected to that object, has become a way of understanding relationships and creating metaphor.  Occasionally, he’ll disagree with my metaphor and offer his own, as in a recent exchange:

“Mama, you are sweet chocolate milk.”

“If I am sweet chocolate milk, then you are the cup that holds me.”

“No!  If you are sweet chocolate milk, then I am the one who drinks you!”

Also, learning that some comparisons can be perceived as insults has let him to be more descriptive and specific, moving from “You are a baby” to “You are a sweet baby” to “You are a sweet little baby that I like to keep in my pocket.”

Simple games like these are fun, easy ways to transform mundane events, such as waiting in line, into moments of silliness, learning, and poetry.  Why not try the “you are” game with someone you care about?

posted by Tria Wood, Writers in the Schools

[photo by hleo via Flickr]