Q:

My two sons are reluctant readers. They both struggled with reading in the early grades. One now reads above his grade level, and the other is slightly below. Their school is asking every child to read at least 20 minutes a night. I give them attention during their reading time, and I provide books at their reading levels. However, by the time we work through the complaints, refusals and stalling and get down to reading, the experience is far from fun for any of us. Right now, reading seems more like a punishment than a treat to them. How can I change this? - Book Lover

A:

The more your children practice reading, the better they will read and even like to read. The school is definitely on the right track in helping your sons become readers. You will find it easier to get your children to read if it becomes a part of their daily routine. Establish a definite time for reading. It must be before any television or other recreational activities. Be very consistent with this.

Forget about forcing your children to read, as it doesn't work very well for reluctant readers who would rather be doing just about anything else. Instead, for the first few weeks, work on getting them in the reading habit by reading aloud to them for the required 20 minutes.

Next, start sharing the reading with your children. You can read a paragraph aloud and have one of them read the next paragraph. Gradually, you can work up to alternating the reading aloud of pages. Also, the children could spend their reading time reading to younger family members or neighborhood children. Once they begin to enjoy reading more, you can expect your sons to be more willing to read silently. Don't, however, expect them to read silently every day; continue reading aloud with them and to them.

What you and your sons choose for their reading material will have a significant role in determining whether or not they begin to enjoy reading. At first, it might be a good idea to choose material that is very easy for them to read - even below their independent levels.