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I am full of unpopular opinions…
I don’t like sweet tea, and being born in North Carolina is considered a sin. I love peanut butter on my bananas, which my husband says is the weirdest thing ever. I also don’t think everyone has to enjoy reading as a hobby! I know a reading specialist that doesn’t think you should spend every bit of your free time reading, I know, it is shocking.
Let me explain before my fellow reading specialist disown me. We all have different hobbies and interests and if reading isn’t a student's top choice that is okay. The big key is that students are all capable of reading to successfully navigate life. Now to successfully navigate life students need to read at an upper high school level considering a rental agreement is typically written on a 9th-grade reading level and patient care forms are often on a high school or college level. We must ensure students have the ability to read the documents such as these to function in everyday life.
That being said, students must regularly practice reading to get good enough at it to successfully navigate the world, doing it daily is required. So it would be really great if they enjoyed it! If your student's struggle is not enjoyment but instead he/she is struggling with decoding words or comprehension, set up a free consultation with us.
Do I believe that all students can enjoy reading as a hobby? Absolutely. There is reading material on every subject so it is possible for each student to find something they love. I think the biggest obstacle is that we as adults must get out of their way. Stop telling them how much we don’t like/understand their graphic novels and pushing them to read books we enjoy. If your preferred form of exercise is walking and each time you show up to workout you keep getting pressured and forced to do CrossFit you would likely stop working out to avoid the type of exercise you don’t enjoy. We have to stop putting this pressure on our students.
So how do we get them to enjoy reading?
We already hit on number one, allow them to pick what they read and don’t bash their choices.
Let them read the same book over and over. If there is a book they do like and they repeatedly pick it up during reading time, let them! That book is their comfort zone, they are not ready to move on yet, and they will pick up a new book when they are ready.
Stop stressing the level. If it is below level, they will have a lot of success with it and build lots of confidence. If they pick a book above their ability, read the book to them, it's a great activity to do together. Don’t have time to read it to them? Let them listen to the book on audible.
Finally, help them create consistency. Practicing reading only 1-2 days a week is not going to make it enjoyable or make them better readers. Reading in some form needs to happen daily. There are lots of ways to work on reading without it feeling like a chore, consider this list:
Read a book aloud to them.
Listen to an audiobook in the car.
Take them to a public library and let them pick a book.
Read books on a topic they are currently excited about.
Read a recipe together and cook.
Encourage them to read picture books instead of chapter books. They are shorter and less intimidating and offer the same range of reading levels.
If they are reading a chapter book read the first 50 pages to them aloud to get them invested quickly. Young readers need to get hooked fast if they are going to keep reading a book. If it takes two weeks to read the first 50 pages they will lose interest before they get to the good part and quit.
Don't make reading harder than it needs to be. Meet your child where they are and focus on reading for enjoyment, without the pressure. Is our child's reading struggles more than simply not liking reading, do you feel they need help with the building blocks of reading? Set up a free consultation today to see if we are a fit to help your reader.
Don't be afraid to step away from chapter books. We often feel that students need to read chapter books to advance their skills, but this is not true. Picture books and graphic novels offer the same reading opportunities and in some ways, they are better options.
Picture books are my favorite way to engage "non-readers"
Graphic Novels, why do they love them so much?
Graphic novels are popular, and we find they are a great way to get kids reading! The imagery helps pull them in and can help them understand the book even better. Creating a picture in our mind as we read is a skill that most kids haven't fully developed so having pictures on each page is a helpful way to help develop this skill.
The biggest plus when it comes to graphic novels is that it isn't intimidating. The page is full of pictures not a bunch of words. This allows them to move through the book faster and creates a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
To support your child in reading their graphic novel book of choice, it is important to make sure they know how to read a graphic novel. It is a skill and it is not the same as reading any other book, we must rely heavily on interpreting the visual images as they are just as important to the story as the words.
Elements of a Graphic Novel:
How to read a graphic novel:
To read a graphic novel you must read in a "z" pattern. Within each panel, the reader must take into account the illustration, speech bubble, thought bubble, captions, sound effects, and character expressions.
Dialogue balloons are read left to right and/or top to bottom. If there is a lot of dialogue on the page it can feel overwhelming to a new graphic novel reader. These are situations where students would benefit from the support of a parent reading with them. Mastering reading graphic novels takes time.
Another key point of graphic novels is that while there is less text to read students should be analyzing the page for other elements that give them details about the story. Considering how the author used space on the page to emphasize one section or how the illustration helps set the tone of the conversation. It would be wise of your to point out how the author uses ALL the elements of the graphic novel to develop the story.