Library Reading Programs are wonderful. Be sure to visit your library to see what's available. If your library doesn't have a program, you can easily create your own. My teen boys still remember their reading charts from when they were 5 and 7. I made a basic chart with a dog in one corner and a doghouse in another corner with empty boxes meandering along a path over the page. They filled the boxes in with paw print stickers each time they read a book. Another chart had an ant in one corner and a picnic basket in antoher. They filled in ant stickers each time they read a book. Once their boxes were full, they earned a trip. Once to an indoor bouncy house. Once to a Chucky-Cheese-type play-place.
Eventually, the boys forgot to put stickers on and they knew we'd make those trips eventually anyway because their parents enjoyed the bounce house as much as they did. They just enjoyed reading and stopped caring about charts. The girls have never seen a chart. The truth is, the fun of reading is plenty of incentive all on its own. But what if they don't love reading?
Most kids go through a point where they don't enjoy reading. It's work. There is a stage when you're a young reader when the books that you CAN read seem baby-ish and the books you might want to read are too hard so you decide you don't really want to read them anyway. There's a hump to overcome and it usually involves making the transition into chapter books.
For my boys, we made it a really big deal to turn 7 because it meant you were ready to be a real reader and get a book lamp for your bed. Bedtime went from 8:30 to 9:00 to allow you time to read in bed. My boys were very excited about this, but still had a hard time embracing those intimidating BIG books. And then I found some old cartoon books at a yardsale. They were thick like grown-up chapter books, but were right at their level. They stayed up chuckling over Family Circus, Dennis the Menace, and Garfield. Somehow, this got them over the hump. Next came The Littles. Every one of my children has loved The Littles.
And then they all fell in love with Cul-De-Sac Kids.
And then, though I'm not proud of this, they fell in love with Boba Fett. It was a series they found at the library and they loved it. From there, they were on their way with real books.
If you have a young one resisting reading, my best advice, born from lots of experience and LOTS of observation, is to back off. Don't push. Yes, have a required amount of time they need to spend reading with you each day. But don't push them (or yourself) to tears. Provide plenty of interesting books that are a step under their reading level for them to pick up and enjoy. Read plenty of books that are above their reading level. Books with rich vocabularies are not too hard for them. It's how they will develop rich vocabularies themselves. And on that note....
There are lots of fun studies to do with books, but they tend to work best when the family is all participating in some of the decisions. If you'd like to dig deeper into some books using lapbooking, notebooking, or unit studies, you might want to begin with having the kids pick a book they want to dig more deeply into. The Little House books, Narnia books, and classics such as A Little Princess or The Secret Garden are ideal for this. Currclick.com and Homeschool Share are some great websites to check out for more ideas on this.
What traditions are a part of your family's reading? Any other tips or tricks to make reading more rewarding?