Written by: Julie Provencher
Some kids need a little more support to develop their love of reading. Getting them a new book or encouraging them just isn’t enough; there’s always something else they’d rather do. When asked if they intend to do a little reading today, they continually seem to answer: “Sure, I’ll do it later,” or “I will, right after my TV show.” They never seem to have motivation or time to prioritize reading.
With two boys of my own at home, I finally found a simple, efficient solution: paired reading! What’s more, this type of reading works in a number of situations and even makes for a fun game. Here are some suggestions to motivate your child to read more.
Classic paired reading consists in a child reading out loud with a partner. The principle is simple enough: your child reads the titles (and subtitles) while you read the text, then he or she reads a page while you read the next one. For more advanced readers, you can apply the same technique to chapters. In the end, what’s important is to find the right balance based on your child’s reading level and interest. This type of shared reading can easily be adapted to your child’s mood and pace. At first, you may be doing most of the reading until your child is ready to jump in; then, simply alternate until your child progressively reads more and more of the book alone.
Parrot reading also offers a great reading strategy. In reality, this method consists in a simple repetition exercise: one of you reads a sentence or paragraph aloud, and the other repeats afterwards as would a parrot. Then, switch roles so the child reads first and you become the parrot! Parrot reading is designed to help children improve their comprehension while providing them with the ideal reading model: you! They might even try to mimic your reading voice.
Popcorn reading is a great game where fun and reading really come together. To play the game, you need at least two readers. The first starts to read and at a strategic moment the second reader shouts “Popcorn!”The roles are then interchanged and the listener becomes the reader. It’s an amusing scene to imagine, children sitting together reading while the word “popcorn” is constantly being cried out. This game is guaranteed to help develop reading skills and kids love it!
Paired reading with a comic book is wonderful for role-playing! You and your child each pick the characters of your choice and then read the lines in their respective speech balloons. To make things more fun, encourage your child to use a distinct voice (accent, pitch, speed, volume, etc.) for each character to really bring the story to life.
Reading question-and-answer books allows your kids to test their knowledge and learn new facts while honing their reading skills. These books enclose questions on a variety of subjects followed by their answers and a brief explanation (see book suggestions at the end of the article). All you have to do is ask a question and your children must try to answer it without reading the answers. They can even think up their own answer if they don’t know the real one! You can then read the answer and explanation together, allowing you to have fun, interact, learn and read all at once.
Does paired reading work with teens? Yes, it certainly does! Simply read the same books they do! Set a reading goal to achieve by the end of the week; then discuss what you read. For example, tell your teens: “Let’s read these two chapters by next Friday.” This subtle way of showing your support will give them the extra motivation they need to read since they have someone to share it with. You can even read their school books with them to help out with the report that will inevitably follow.
With a partner, reading becomes more fun! It also provides some great bonding opportunities and can contribute to reduce any reading-related anxiety your children may have.
Here are some popular question-and-answer books for kids: