Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What About Kids That Don't Like to Read?

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What About Kids That Don't Like to Read? - Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

No matter how long we've been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

What if my student doesn't like to read?

This is something that makes most homeschool moms so sad - am I right? It really is sad to think that fewer people read simply because they like to read, and even moms who are not big readers hope that their kids will enjoy reading. I don't have any statistics or research to show whether reading is on the decline or not, and that's not what this question is about. I think we can probably all agree that reading is an essential skill, and that we all want our students to be competent in it, at the very least. I think a majority of us do want our kids to enjoy reading, so it's fair for us to wonder what we can or should do if we find ourselves with a kid saying, "I don't like reading!"

I think it's important to establish whether your kid is having trouble with reading. It's no surprise when a student that struggles with reading doesn't enjoy it! If that's the root of the problem, start by addressing it and getting help. Please don't expect a child to be excited about reading if he or she has vision problems, or dyslexia, or a learning delay, or anything else that impairs the ability to read. Often (not always!), once a student overcomes or learns to cope with the reading difficulty, he also finds that reading is enjoyable too!

What About Kids That Don't Like to Read? - Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Assuming that your student can read reasonably well, but just doesn't like to read - what's a homeschool mama to do? 

Continue offering the opportunity. Talk about books, and discuss plots and themes and characters, even if you don't require the student to read the entire book. In my Creative Writing class, the text refers to all kinds of books, uses examples from books and stories, and discusses how authors develop characters and themes or use dialogue or whatever. Even as the teacher, there's no way I could have read all those books myself!! I find that my students may not even have heard of some of the books, or if they have, they really don't know what happens in the story. Most of the time, the text is designed so that it doesn't matter if we know the whole story, and the author gives us enough background to understand why she's chosen the particular passage as an example. When we talk about books the students don't know, a summary of the book's plot and main ideas will still get the discussion moving, and the students learn what they need to learn. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting the right book into a kid's hands that will spark their interest.

Offer alternate ways to hear the story. Audio books are perfect for this!! (For Lit studies, I highly recommend reading along though, and making sure that the audio is not an abridged or adapted version) Read aloud - even to your teenagers!! Yes, they may groan, but if they aren't thrilled about reading a required novel themselves, they may conclude that hearing it read aloud is a good alternative. Take turns reading. Have older kids read to younger ones. If it's a British Literature course, your student will probably need to read the unabridged original novel Pride and Prejudice, but maybe watching the movie afterwards would be a good reward as well as help them understand some nuances they may have missed. If they just need to be familiar with a general plot, the movie version may be perfectly fine.

Relax requirements. Believe it or not, there are people who read well and just don't like to read. A couple of my kids are in this group. They learned to read without any difficulty, and they read well - they just don't enjoy it. Another student of mine likes to read, but is easily distracted and doesn't read quickly. I've decided to be okay with that. Since none of my kids aspired to be an English Lit professor, it didn't matter all that much. I believe kids should graduate from high school being somewhat familiar with a good selection of important literature, and having actually read some of that literature. In college, most students will need to be able to write a little bit about literature in an intelligent manner. That doesn't mean they need to have read all one hundred books in the greatest literature of all time list. When my students did high school history using Notgrass textbooks (which we love!), I pared down the list of required novels to about five each year. From twelve or thirteen, down to five. I picked the ones that I thought were most important or would interest and impact them the most and those were the ones I required. Reading all twelve or thirteen novels when they really weren't feeling it, and when they were already struggling to stay on top of a heavy course load, or when they read slowly wasn't worth it. My kids might not have loved to read, but I certainly wasn't going to force it upon them so that they grew to hate it.

For some specifics on which novels we read in middle and high school, see my post Lots of Literature.

Lots of Literature (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
When I was still very new to homeschooling and my kids were little, I had a naive idea that my kids would all enjoy reading and would love to read books and discuss them. Okay, that didn't exactly turn out like I'd hoped. My boys were never huge fans of reading, and wanted to get away with reading only the minimum required. My daughter does like to read, but she tends to take her time with books, especially if it's not something that grabs her attention immediately. So no Lit majors in our family. But I believe that being familiar with good literature is important, and some literature is required as a component of high school English credit in our state. Here's how we have tried to strike the balance.
In that post, I listed the novels that were required in the courses we chose, and how I chose which of them I'd require my kids to read. 

There are any number of things that are important for kids to do that they don't like doing. Just like eating their vegetables or doing their chores, it's up to us to decide which battles to fight and what our endgame is. Being able to read and comprehend well is essential, but having read War and Peace cover to cover isn't. Choose your battles wisely!

Do you have reluctant readers? How do you handle that? Leave a comment and let me know what works for you - or leave a homeschool question you're curious about.

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MJ @ Creative Madness Mama said...

Using audiobooks has really lit a fire under my middle child. She has discovered how much adventure and enjoyment she can find in a story and it is prompting her to finally seek out more on her own and is reading at a nearly second grade level when before she wasn't interested in the least. I hope she will continue to love getting a story and not walk away with it being boring in the future.

MommyBugg said...

I am SUCH a bookworm - my oldest hates to read - He will hide books that I give him to read! LOL It's so bad! Even worse is that he reads so well - its frustrating. But we recently have found audio books; podcasts; online materials are the perfect fit for him. He loves listening to all those great books while he works or builds or draws. I have to not take it so personally and just be glad that there is another way to encourage and inspire him with all those great stories that are out there!

Unknown said...

I totally agree with figuring out if it’s a learning struggle first, once we worked on basic skills with my son rather than trying to get him to read full books things went so much smoother when we picked up reading again.

Also, audiobooks or reading aloud to your children is such an awesome way for them to allow them to be absorbing literature without needing to read themselves.

Chris and Dawn said...

Great thoughts! I had one that loved to read from a young age but my daughter has just started to love to read. I had to keep offering her different books but also not push it too hard and once she got really comfortable reading and found the right books she took off. Time will tell about my younger two.

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