Ever felt that stab of horror when one of your children dared to say, “I don’t like reading?” I mean, the tragedy! It may have been the closest I’ve been to disowning my children, but don’t worry, they are safely still part of the family. Fellow book lovers will understand the level of pain that comes with knowing your child views reading as a chore. They’d rather avoid it just like they’d rather procrastinate making their bed or doing the dishes. You can’t help but wonder…is this my child?!
But I digress.
Regardless of a parent’s abiding joy for a certain hobby, such as reading, children may not take after their parents. That’s not a bad thing, it’s simply evidence that they are an individual with their own likes and dislikes. However, there are wonderful benefits to gain from reading, so we want to explore a few ideas for helping your homeschooler enjoy books just a little bit more.
Top 10 Ways to Inspire a Love of Reading
The term “reluctant readers” is common for those who don’t enjoy books and would rather do almost anything than sit down and read. Reluctant readers can be any age and sometimes, they may never enjoy reading as bookworms do. However, oftentimes, children are reluctant readers simply because they haven’t yet found a book suitable for their interests. To that extent, they have written off reading as something they don’t enjoy and would rather not put the effort into trying. It’s understandable and there’s hope to still inspire a love of reading in these children. Here are several ideas to help motivate your homeschooler to enjoy books!
- Let them choose the book. When we let our children choose their books, they will feel more engaged and take a greater interest in the book itself. Whether you let them choose between your previous selections, or you give them free rein to the bookshelf or library section, they will feel a sense of motivation simply by being able to choose.
- Look into book clubs. Book clubs can work wonders for reluctant readers! There will be a sense of camaraderie as the students work through a book together and answer the discussion questions in the meetings. It will be exciting for them to hear what other children think about the story!
- Make sure they catch you reading on your own. “More is caught than taught,” and that is just as true with reading habits. If you want them to enjoy reading, you’ll have to demonstrate the enjoyment of reading yourself.
- Choose books uniquely engaging for them. When looking for books for your children, consider themes and stories that would especially interest them. For example, if your boy is adventurous and outdoorsy, look for books with those elements. If your girl loves space, search for books about the stars and astronomy. These sorts of themes can help inspire more interest in reading.
- Consider a book series. A book series can be a great way to encourage kids to enjoy reading because they will be excited to finish the storyline or to read more about the characters. However, you have to be careful with a series. Make certain it is an especially engaging story so your child is reeled in. Otherwise, a series could backfire when kids tire of the plot or writing style.
- Finish the book before discussion. The stop and start of post-chapter discussions can make a book drag on and reduce the joy of the story itself. To motivate a love of reading, you don’t want it to feel like work!
- Some books aren’t good. There, I’ve said it! Some books are just boring or disappointing. Every reader has the right to dislike a title. Even if other people love it, sometimes it’s just not for you. That is not a reflection on books in general, however, and that’s what we want to teach our children.
- Discuss the benefits of reading. When your homeschooler becomes more interested in reading, you can help maintain that interest by expressing the benefits and importance of reading. We like to know the “why” as adults — and so do kids!
- Consider teaching reading strategies. There are techniques to make reading easier and more enjoyable. For example, teach your children to visualize the story in their minds, to connect with the characters, to ask questions about the plot, and to predict the ending as they continue to read. These strategies are natural for regular readers, but children may not always begin this pattern on their own.
- Build Anticipation. A good idea to interest your reluctant reader is by reading aloud a short excerpt of the book to hook them. For example, read the beginning of the book just until a cliffhanger, and then put the book aside. They will be dying to know what happens and you may even find them reading the book on their own!
Our Favorite 10 Books to Motivate Homeschoolers
Some books are okay, some books are good, and some books are great and stand above the rest. Those exciting, adventurous, and catching books are exactly what a reluctant reader needs! Select titles are timeless and will always become a cherished story for generations to come. Others, however, are newer but still as exciting or precious. Either way, these books leave their imprint on our hearts and minds for years to come. These are the books that have inspired many children to enjoy reading and even begin asking for their next library visit!
- Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. “Fantastic Mr. Fox is on the run! The three meanest farmers around are out to get him. Fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don’t know is that they’re not dealing with just any fox–Mr. Fox would never surrender. But only the most fantastic plan ever can save him now.” (Synopsis from Goodreads.)
- The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole. The original Magic School Bus series has 9 books. Ms. Frizzle takes these children on virtual bus rides for amazing field trips!
- The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. The Boxcar Children books follow orphaned siblings Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. They make a home for themselves in a boxcar they find in the forest. After a time, they find their rich grandfather, who invites the children to live with him instead. Mysteries seem to follow the boxcar children wherever they go!
- Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson. The Hank the Cowdog books follow a dog who proclaims himself the “Head of Ranch Security.” Each book explores how Hank solves mysteries and deals with issues around the ranch.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Harry discovers he is a wizard at the age of eleven and embarks on an adventure to Hogwarts (a school for magical people). He soon becomes friends with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, also students at Hogwarts. The main plotline is about Harry’s struggles with Lord Voldemort–the main villain, who intends to take over the wizarding world as well as the non-magical world.
- Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol. “A civil war sword, a watermelon stabbing, missing roller skates, a trapeze artist’s inheritance, and an eyewitness who’s legally blind! These are just some of the ten brain-twisting mysteries that Encyclopedia Brown must solve by using his famous computer-like brain. Try to crack the cases along with him–the answer to all the mysteries are found in the back!” (Synopsis from Goodreads.)
- The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. “At first, Omri is unimpressed with the plastic Indian toy he is given for his birthday. But when he puts it in his old cupboard and turns the key, something extraordinary happens that will change Omri’s life forever. For Little Bear, the Iroquois Indian brave, comes to life…” (Synopsis from Goodreads.)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. “Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure – one that will threaten their lives and our universe.” (Synopsis from Goodreads.)
- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. “Doomed to – or blessed with – eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less of a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.” (Synopsis from Goodreads.)
- Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr. “A girl. An iguana. An island. And e-mail. Meet Nim–a modern-day Robinson Crusoe! She can chop down bananas with a machete, climb tall palm trees, and start a fire with a piece of glass. So she’s not afraid when her scientist dad sails off to study plankton for three days, leaving her alone on their island. Besides, it’s not as if no one’s looking after her–she’s got a sea lion to mother her and an iguana for comic relief. She also has an interesting new email pal. But when her father’s cell-phone calls stop coming and disaster seems near, Nim has to be stronger and braver than she’s ever been before. And she’ll need all her friends to help her.” (Synopsis from Goodreads.)