How to we get students to read books for enjoyment? Three tips that worked for me as a teacher and parent may help you too.

1. Find a series that your child will enjoy. No one spends free time doing something that is not interesting or entertaining. Books face strong competition from the Internet and Social Media. But I was surprised to learn, when I talked to a woman who works in the children and teens section of Chapters, that their biggest increase in sales has been in the teen section. She says it is because there are so many excellent new novels being written in the genre of fantasy, dragons and vampires, the favorite movies of teens.

A good novel is like a soap opera, you can’t wait to find out how it all turns out. The book becomes a constant companion until finished. This spurs readers to read the next novel in the series and they are hooked on reading. So, begin by taking your child to a good bookstore to spend time with a knowledgeable staff member who will help you to find just the right book.

2. Read the first chapter aloud to your child and discuss it. The first chapter sets up the characters and theme of the book and makes the reader want to find out more. It would even be helpful to read the book yourself so that you can discuss it together at the end. You will love the dialogue you will have as you view the characters and events through each other’s eyes. It will enable you to step inside your child’s mind and understand the world from his or her point of view.

I shared Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut with my grandson, Sean, when he was in grade twelve. It is one of my most cherished memories. It was the first time we had important and interesting discussions around such topics as politics, societal issues, religion and death.

Another good practice is to talk to your family about the books you are reading. It is good modelling and helps to interest them in reading.

3. Make sure that your child is able to read quickly and with comprehension because otherwise he or she won’t take the time to read a whole book. I meet adults who read so slowly that they never attempt a novel. How sad! The Making Sense Approach to Reading increases speed and comprehension not just for those who are struggling but for average readers as well. Many adults who have taken the Simply Read! course to help their children improve their reading find that their own reading improves as they use the Making Sense Approach to Reading to become a reading mentor to a student.

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