Finding Your Child’s Reading “ON” Button

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Finding Your Child's Reading "ON" Button | RaisingArrows.netA lot of homeschool parents find themselves stumped by teaching their child to read.  Often, they will get through all the phonics lessons in a choice curriculum, only to realize their child still doesn’t read fluently.  Sometimes a child does quite well with learning to read, but fails to find enjoyment in reading anything they don’t have to.

The fact of the matter is this happens even in public and parochial schooling as well.  You’ve probably heard of the Accelerated Reader Program widely used in public schools to encourage students to achieve higher reading levels via monitoring software and incentives.  While this program can be helpful, it misses the heart of why we teach reading, and often causes more problems by encouraging kids to avoid books that are not AR approved because they will not receive “points” for those books.

The key to reading success is finding your child’s reading “ON” button.  This happens when everything you have taught them clicks and their reading begins to soar.  But you might be a little stumped about how to find that button and flip the switch.  Let me share with how you can guide your child toward fluent and voracious reading with a few simple tactics you can start implementing today.

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Study your child

Be a student of your child

First and foremost, you must know your child.  In particular, you need to know what subjects interest them.  This is easy to see in some children, but harder to figure out in others.

For instance, my 9 year loves all things domestic.  She’s a fan of cooking, hosting parties, keeping house, and is especially drawn to frontier living.  I know she’ll enjoy books like the Little House on the Prairie series or Life with Lilly series.

But what about my son who would prefer to fill his days with airsofting and hunting?  Currently, he is reading hunting magazines and Army field manuals, but we originally found his “ON” button via books about World War II.  He is looking for books that offer strategy and intrigue.  He is looking for books that are rarely found in the children’s section of the local library.  We had to think outside the box with him, and I am certain the AR program would not have met his reading needs in a useful way.

Finding Your Child's Reading "ON" Button |

Be purposeful in choosing reading material for your home

Once you begin to study and know your child, look for ways to bring purposeful reading material into your home.  Don’t limit yourself to the exact interest your child has, but rather dig deeper into the WHY.

Suppose you have a child who seems to prefer playing video games to just about any other activity.  Consider the games that are his favorites.  Why are they favorites?  Do they involve cars?  Consider piquing his interest with books about cars.  Maybe he likes games that involve treasure hunting.  Look into archeology books or books about pirates.

Be purposeful about the books you choose and where you choose to keep them in your home.  You want to spark imagination and light a fire that motivates your child to hunger for more information.

And don’t forget magazines, ebooks, and blogs as useful ways to get your child reading!  {You can check out my son’s airsoft blog HERE!}


Visit the library and look for specific topics

Don’t forget to utilize your local library.  Go to the library with purpose.  It is not uncommon for our children to head to the library with topics in mind.  One son really enjoys learning about knights.  We look specifically for books on knights.  And remember my son who enjoys airsofting?  He spends most of his time in the adult non-fiction section, looking for books on battles and military tactics.

Don’t limit yourself to the children’s section of the library.  In fact, I’ve been rather disappointed in the teen section of our local library and prefer my older children look in the adult section of the library for books that are meatier.


Don’t be afraid to start with twaddle
{but don’t stay there}

Some people will tell you to avoid twaddle at all costs, but if you have a struggling reader you may need to start with the easy stuff and work your way up.  A comic book here and there may be just what your child needs to get them interested in reading.  My only caution would be to avoid feeding an appetite for “easy” reading.  You want your child’s reading abilities to grow.

Finding Your Child's Reading "ON" Button

Now, what do you do with all these books you’ve acquired that are supposed to lead your child to proficient reading?  Here are some quick tips and ideas to get you started on the right path:

  • Leave books laying out in obvious places.
  • Have your child read aloud to you in small increments, building up as you go.
  • Have your child read a page and draw a picture, act out a scene, build something from it with blocks or Legos.  Get their mind and body working together and learning from the material.
  • Have a movie night after a book that has a corresponding movie has been read.  Ask them about differences and if they liked the book or movie better (you might be surprised!).
  • Explore things in books or magazines further.  Is there a website listed?  Check it out!  Want to know more about how something was made?  Look it up!  Encourage your child to keep digging for information based on what they learned in the reading material.

Ultimately, you are looking to foster your child’s drive to learn.  Reading is still one of the best ways to gather information and a skill every child needs to acquire and become adept at.  Be your child’s best encourager and keep looking for that reading “ON” button!


Want to know more about the Life with Lily series my 9 year old daughter enjoys?
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Life with Lily

5 Comments on Finding Your Child’s Reading “ON” Button

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5 thoughts on “Finding Your Child’s Reading “ON” Button

  1. Comic books and other “easy” to read books needn’t be considered “twaddle.” There are entire college classes devoted to studying comic books and children’s literature (ex – Harry Potter) to analyze the themes, look at the mythology behind the stories, etc. If a child is really interested in comic books and *wants* to read those, you could incorporate some sort of age-appropriate study of themes in their favorite books into your curriculum. There are also studies that support children reading “easy” books, on occasion, as it supports foundational reading skills, vocabulary they’ve already learned, etc.

  2. Enjoyed your post. We’re in the ‘trying to encourage more reading’ stage with your 10 year-old daughter. She’ll read when I have it scheduled throughout the day but it’s not her go-to favorite activity. I’ll be using some of your ideas to encourage more quality reading. Thanks!

  3. I think some of it is being surrounded by books and readers. The kids see me trying to read every spare moment I get, there are books all over the place (the librarian’s jaw once dropped when she saw I had 80+ books checked out), and we read aloud at almost every meal, sporadically throughout the day, and often listen to books on CD while driving. I also prefer to assign a topic book as opposed to reading assignments or worksheets so my kids read a lot of history and science books. I’m also a big fan of series! My son was a reluctant reader until we found the Deltora series and then I was so happy that there were more books for him to go through.

    The difficulty I have is keeping up with what is appropriate for them. The librarian told me that the teen books can sometimes have worse violence or sexuality than the adult books. I try to check things out on thrivingfamily but don’t always have luck doing so.

  4. Sometimes the reason a child isn’t a big reader is a physical problem and has nothing to do with interest or ability. If you’re getting frustrated because you can’t find a way to get your child interested in bigger books, it might be worth making sure there’s nothing else going on.

    My siblings and I were all early and avid readers, except for one of my sisters. She learned to read at a fairly normal rate, but never seemed to enjoy it, and the older she became the more we wondered why she would only read the easiest books and never seemed to get the reading bug that was such a major part of my own childhood. I assumed she must be lazy or flighty or less intelligent than the rest of us, which I enormously regret now. When she was in high school, we discovered she had a vision problem (stereoblindness) that had been affecting her reading all along. Reading tiny print for any length of time gave her headaches because of the vision problem, which is why she only read those easy books with large print. Now she has a Kindle which she uses for her reading assignments. She can enlarge the font size of her books, or else have the Kindle read them aloud to her. She’s blossomed so much academically, and I wish we’d realized there was a physical problem ages ago!

  5. My 7 y/o son was frustrated with books that had too many hard words or were just way too easy. Then I remembered the Dick & Jane books that my Gramma had given me. He loves them! Now he’s willing to read everyday – to me, to his brother & sister. :) It was his “ON” button.