How Can I Get Son to READ a Book?

sameboatAugust 14, 2009

My DS10 has summer reading to do. He has to read three books. He picked out one book (the thinnest one he could find) in July, and he fussed every time we told him to go read. He wouldn't read it before bed, he wouldn't read it even when he said he was bored. I ended up reading the book to him. So we got another book from the library and I refused to read it to him. This is HIS reading project, right? Crying episodes and him lying, saying he did read a few chapters but totally failing my simple quiz, what can I do? He enjoyed listening to me read but I'm sure that is not what the teachers want. Am I right? What can I do? I try to get him to pick topics of interest to him. Nothing seems to interest him. He said he likes books about Star Wars and Legos. What the heck? What's wrong with my kid? What can I do to motivate him?

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My DD10 goes through phases where she loves to read and phases where she finds reading a chore. The thing is, she has no choice in our house. I don't care if you think its boring and would rather watch TV, you will read every day for at least 30 minutes, including weekends. One of the things that I find works to avoid the whining is I have DD read books that have become movies. She always wants to watch the movies, but our rule is, you have to read the book first. That really seems to motivate her. She flew through the Harry Potter books, Series of Unfortunate Events, Narnia series, and is now zipping through the Twighlight books. Another thing I do is just grab a book myself and we both sit on the couch and read for a determined length of time, and she seems to like that as she enjoys sharing a funny scene, etc. Also reading at the bookstore or library always seems more enjoyable for her than reading at home. I don't really understand why, but it does.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 12:52AM
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First of all I would think laterally. Do you think he could have some sort of problem with the actual reading process ? Maybe he needs glasses, or he has another problem with his vision.

I would never let anything negative be connected with reading. Do you read ? Does his father read ? Does he see you read ?

With my son, he really got into reading with those pokemon cards, he is 17 now. He just loved them so much, and there was plenty of reading on the card. This led to books. The sillier the better. Terry Denton, Andy Griffiths, are the authors that my distant memory has dredged up. Titles such as "The Day My bum went psycho" - may not be to your liking, I not sure it was to mine - but my son loved it and thought it very funny. It was one of a series. He read one and was champing at the bit to read the rest of the series.

I am in Australia, and I think those authors I mentioned are Aussies.

Go to a book shop and ask what 10 year olds like reading.

Some ideas for you.

Don't give up on this, because I think developing a love of reading, early on, is crucial to them becoming good scholars.

Good luck with all of this.

Happy reading.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 4:39AM
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Thank you both for your ideas.

My husband and I do read but not novels. We read to learn (music, business/finance info, etc.) and read magazines as well.

I remember the Captain Underpants series that DS loved when he was younger but I'm afraid he's outgrown them and there is a list of books the school/library has suggested that he read so he has to pick from those.

I think I will go to a bookstore as you suggested and ask what 10-year-olds are into these days, something silly or interesting enough that he may pick it up on his own outside of his school work. I hope so. He's perfectly capable. He can read aloud pretty well with feeling and also pronounces words I never would have thought he could understand. He just hates the school work reading. He can whip through directions on how to put toys together all right.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 4:49PM
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My 10yo SS was thumbing his nose at reading for awhile, so we had evening reads together. I'd read two pages aloud, he'd read one. We'd read for about 15-20 minutes together, then he'd be into the story enough to read on his own for another 10-15.

I also decided to start this because his teacher did some reading aloud testing and SS was having a hard time reading with expression, voicing the punctuation, etc. So my reading was a good example of voicing the expression and punctuation, etc. I noticed a HUGE change is his reading after just a few weeks of reading together, and after a couple months of this, he was more into reading again, and also a much better reader.

What about a kid's magazine like Owl? Or even the Lego magazine? My SS likes magazines even on days that he isn't interested in novels or non-fiction. I know that's not part of his reading list, but an enthusiasm for reading is worth deviating from the list!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 8:59PM
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Another idea that might work is books on cd. We check out books and cd's from the library that are a little above my kids reading levels and they listen to the cd as they follow along in the book. Makes it easier. Since your son liked listening to you read to him he may like this.

My son is a lot like your son...hates reading! He liked the books on cd better than reading independantly. He also liked books that have movies about we could read the book and then watch the movie.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:00PM
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Oh and another thing I do to get my kids to read is add it to their chore reward chart. Each of my children has specific chores to do weekly and they earn points for them. After a certain amount of points they get extra privilages and earn fun activities. This summer I added reading 20 minutes and practicing math facts to their charts. I don't make them do it daily, but they want to sometimes especially when they are close to earning a reward!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:03PM
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I love, love, love to read and it was a huge disappointment to me that my oldest didn't like to read when he was in the very early elementary years. I think the reason he didn't enjoy reading was because the books that were easy enough to read didn't interest him.

Anyway, I read an article that said one of the keys to raising a reader was to find something, anything that your kid likes to read - comic books, magazines, whatever. Don't focus on an appropriate reading level, etc., just get them reading. So I checked out all kinds of reading materials for my son, including comic books and magazines, books above his level, below his level, etc.

The article also said that one thing that is great for developing readers is to find a book series they enjoy. That's what finally hooked my son in the second grade. He found a series he loved, and he started reading all the time and buying books with his allowance.

If your son likes Star Wars, then there should probably be comic books about Star Wars. There are also series books with a Star Wars theme - my son read those when he was about your son's age. I would do as Ceph suggested and read 2 pages, then let him read the other one.

If your son likes sports, there is a series about boys and sports that was popular when my son was in the 4th or 5th grade (he's 20 now). Hatchet, by Gary Paulson is an excellent book and not very "fat". It's about a boy whose plane crashes in the wilderness and the boy, the only survivor, has to survive with just a hatchet. If your son likes adventure and dogs, White Fang by Jack London is a great book.

Along with the other suggestions everyone above has made, you might also consider picking a fascinating book that is above his level and read it aloud to him. If he gets deeply involved in the storyline he might read some of it himself when you don't have time. "Fat" books that would have had an absorbing storyline for my son at that age would have been The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I loved Ender's Game myself. My son still has his copy.

If I had a son like yours I'd do as Ceph suggested and read a couple of pages then let him read a page of the school assigned book. But I'd also have an assigned reading time every night for the entire family, when the house would be quiet and my son would have to read during that assigned time. The tv would be off and my husband and I would read, too. I'd have an assortment of reading material available including comic books, books about deadly creatures like sharks, etc, joke books, books about magic tricks, etc. If he likes to read for knowledge, have books that teach things he might like to do - start a camp fire, do magic tricks, learn to design a web page, etc.

Good luck with helping your son with his reading.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 3:53PM
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I agree with all that has been said....but would really urge checking not only vision but whether he has the ability to track words on the page. If reading isn't fun, there maybe a physical reason.
Linda c

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 12:31AM
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Last summer, as my oldest was coming into his sophomore year, I convinced him to try honors lit. He had required reading, 3 novels to complete before school started, quizzes on them week one. I felt bad for him, reading Jane Eyre is not how most 15 y/o boys want to spend their summer. ;o) So I said I'd pay him 3 cents/page. Which earned him $10-15 for each novel. His brother, then 11, thought that sounded like a good deal. So I made him the same deal and he also read about 3 books, but shorter. I do not pay my kids allowance for chores, so this deal was especially sweet to them. If you don't want to do money, you could do points. In the Accelerated Reader system so many schools use, each book is worth points. The last school my kids went to had an "Accelerated Reader Store." Kids could spend their earned AR points on cool school supplies, small toys, trading cards- a lot of stuff donated. You could trade points for privileges. Maybe 60 minutes reading (or points/pages) earns an extra 30 mins of gaming/TV time.

My 12 y/o needs motivation/reward to read. Even it that's a grade. He knows he is required to pretty much always be reading during the school year. He has to turn in reading response homework and take AR quizzes. So he does what he has to do, he does want the grade. I don't pay during the school year. Unless there is a book *I* want him to read, something of more literary quality than he might choose on his own. Even his reading teacher this year said she will offer rewards for kids who read books from the classics or Newbery prize lists.

My 12 y/o loved the Eragon series. Those were challenging at the time he read them, and long. We borrowed them on CD and he followed sometimes. He loves to listen to books on CD. If I download them to my iPod, he will listen in the car or while waiting for siblings practices. (I found out our library has a selection that can be downloaded free and used for 3 weeks before they expire.) I do not see that as cheating, following along with the text while listening. And when it's for pleasure, just listening. My DS has a huge verbal vocabulary. His teachers who know that reading/writing is struggle for him are amazed b/c he uses higher level vocabulary in conversation than they expect him to have based on his reading. But he will not recognize half those big words on the page. That frustrates him. It confounds me, too, when he brings me the books, "What's this word?" b/c I've heard him use the word, correctly, for years! But when he follows along with the CD, he gets so much more of the vocabulary, it's very instructive. He is also just a verbal learner. He can read a story on his own and recall next to nothing. But if he hears it, he knows every detail. So this combination makes sense for him.

My 9 y/o DD, sheesh, I'd have to pay her NOT to read! A "special treat" for her is a trip with me to the library or, better yet, bookstore! I hope her interests stays this strong.

I just gave my DS 39 Clues, a mystery series that comes with cards with passwords to go online to supplement the mystery solving in the story. I don't know how it is yet, I literally gave it to him as walked out the door to school this a.m. and I have not read it yet myself. But I think it's an interesting idea, especially for less willing readers who do like computers (is there a kid who doesn't?).

The school librarian has recommended a series called The Olympians, by Rick Riordan. The first one is called The Lightning Thief. Children of Olympic gods/goddesses are alive and living normal lives today, except they have to save the world. This appeals to me b/c of the allusions to classic mythology, a very good thing to be familiar with. Yet I'm told kids love the books b/c they are witty. Actually, classic mythology is in our school's reading curriculum in middle school, so it gets bonus points for me.

Myself, I love the kids books by Carl Hiaasen, Hoot, Flush and the latest, Scat. I think they are hilarious! The misfit kids discover the "bad guys" plotting a crime against the environment and break a few small rules to prove it (like skip school, sneak out). It always ends well, lessons learned by all, and the bad guys especially get some punishment. The best irony! But be warned, parents who expect really clean books for their kids, there are some 4-letter words and misbehavior. It does not bother me b/c I think the books are too much fun to read, and it does work out well in the end. Also, they are excellent ways to talk about character development, descriptive settings, irony, foreshadowing, and more, on a kids' level. They are great to read together and talk about, there are good topics for discussion and humor to just enjoy together.

Jerry Spinelli, another really good author to know for middle grade readers. Kids love him, topics they can relate to, funny, and not usually too long. But look at the summary, b/c of the topics, some books are for more mature readers than others. Some are great for 4th grade, some better for 8th grade.

Remember kids really do learn a lot from reading fiction. Not just vocabulary and spelling. But they pick up great information (like the mythology stuff, or in Hiassen's books, geographic details about the environment) that they will store away in their minds. What they learn from good fiction will help them across the curriculum. (Yes, I'm a middle school reading teacher, I'm just not working these days.)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 11:49AM
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First, I understand that every kid doesn't like to read, but after reading your remarks: "I ended up reading the book to him" or "Crying episodes and him lying, saying he did read a few chapters but totally failing my simple quiz, what can I do?" makes me think he's learned that if he puts up a fuss, he doesn't have to do something if he doesn't feel like it.

Lots of people on this thread have given you good suggestions about book series that hopefully will get him more interested in general. I definitely agree with mixing in comic books, and how-to manuals for things he likes to do to help him discover why reading is fun or of value to him.

But, at 10 (starting 5th grade in the fall?), he has to read things he doesn't necessarily love. And he has to take the time to comprehend and process what he reads.

My suggestions to help with the immediate need of accomplishing reading the 3 summer books and hopefully helping him with the follow-through on reading assignments during the schoolyear:

1. Sit down next to him and read your own book while he's reading his. Stay until he reads a chapter or two or whatever you think is reasonable. As you're sitting next to him, casually ask him from time to time what's going on. As someone who's interested, not as someone grilling or testing him.

2. You don't mention TV watching or video game playing, but if your son spends a lot of time doing those activities, reading seems slow and boring. From my observations with DS and his friends, there is such a direct correlation... more TV and video = less reading, that it is simply a standing rule in our household that no TV or computer or video game is on until the daily routine is done. That includes household chores, piano practice, personal grooming, reading, homework, etc. No choice, no discussion. We even make jokes about how DS turns into "video-head" otherwise and nothing gets done.

3. To me, consistency and routine is the key, especially for changing a behavior. If you buy in to his crying and lying, it's not helping him. And I don't believe simple punishment (i.e., taking away his Legos until the books are read) or reward (paying for pages) will help either. It takes time to incorporate change. He needs your help establishing that new pattern.

One last idea that I used to do with DS (and still sometimes do because it's fun), is start by reading a page, then have him read the next, and keep switching off, you and him, page by page. Make it as silly as possible, exaggerate the voices, whisper, use gestures and sound effects, speed up then talk in slow motion, anything animated. Encourage him to do the same. It might help get the situation back on track in a non-adversarial way.

Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 4:20PM
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Perhaps you could come from the angle of 'need to read".

For instance, he wants to make a cake- a recipe needs to be followed - he needs to do a bit of reading to enable him to make the cake. It has to be something he really wants to achieve - try to think along those lines.

When my children were little I used make reading a game, whenever we were in the car, I would point out signs, and they would read them. I guess its about putting in that ground work very early on, that is so important.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 8:24PM
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" She always wants to watch the movies, but our rule is, you have to read the book first". Us too!

Start out small. Have him read a magazine first. Then add a thin book, then a thicker book.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 1:07PM
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Do you read books for enjoyment?
Generally if a child is raised in a family that exhibits a love of books, this will also become their joy.

Limit time on the computer, tv and video play.

Schedule times for reading.
Make it important.
Make it interesting.
Make it enjoyable.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 8:49AM
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Oh wow my thread is still going! He's reading! He reads stories aloud to me almost every night, and we are enjoying it. He is now reading Diary of a Wimpy kid and it's hysterical. He reads with feeling. Now he has to start reading some serious chapter books to me, too. His teacher doesn't require book reports which I think is odd for fifth grade but if he did have to he could! We started out by my reading to him, then he'd read to me. Now he will read to me.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 10:15PM
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Hurray !
I hope other parents read this thread and realize how important interaction is when a child is hesitant to embrace reading books.
As a teacher, I have found that the read-to child is usually always a good reader...and enthusiastic readers are generally good spellers!

Books are becoming more relevant, thanks to Harry Potter series and other authors who took notice that kids DO want to read good stories.

Thank goodness.
Let's develop those imaginations again and provide kids with a lifelong enjoyment of books.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 8:49AM
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And one of the books Diary of a Wimpy Kid is interactive - he has to fill in blanks, etc. I also got a chapter book (meant for my older son) that he is interested in reading. I think that it's for a teenager so it is enticing him. yoyobon we also play scrabble a lot.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 11:11PM
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