Helping my Son Love to Read by Being Engaged


Love to Read

My husband and I love to read. We read everything from history to sci-fi and horror. We both read some of the same books and like to talk about them and other books we are reading. Both of us read every night before we fall asleep and try to read a little in the morning before we start our day. My husband and I hoped to pass on our love of reading to our children.

We started early, reading to our children every night, with really simple touch-and-feel books. Then we graduated to longer books, making sure to have different voices for the characters, discussing with our littles what the pictures convey, and really trying to engage their imaginations.

Our oldest started reading early. He very quickly picked up sight words and we had him read short books every night. He loved a variety of books and started reading books on his tablet. We thought we were successful, had instilled the love, and were set.

Not Loving to Read

Then the new school year started… In school this year, his teacher’s only homework is to read for 20 minutes a day. Every day including weekends. I was overjoyed since we had him read every night, anyway.

Instead of being overjoyed, my son started resisting and complaining. He did not want to read for 20 minutes. He pouted, shouted, cried, and seemed to hate to read. I was floored. What had changed? Why was 20 minutes such a big deal?

We tried to accommodate by reading for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night, but we kept forgetting to read in the morning. My husband and I would set the timer, threaten, cajole, bribe, nothing worked consistently. We tried to have him read a bunch of short books, rather than a long book, but it was still a fight.

Essential Engagement

I was frustrated and out of ideas. Then I realized something. Now, when we were having our son read, my husband and I would mostly check out. We would go on our phones, play a quick game, check Facebook or our messages, etc. Rather than engaging with him and the story, we were busy doing other things.

I put down my phone and vowed to pay attention to the stories instead. His grandmother had bought him a series of books about a zombie goldfish. They are hilarious. We talk about the characters, laugh at their adventures, try to guess what is going to happen next, and have a great time reading. We even sometimes forget to start the timer and read for much longer than 20 minutes!

Now we love to read together again. He needed me to engage with him and to remember what is awesome about reading together. It is a time we both look forward to rather than being a nightly battle. I never thought I would be excited about a zombie goldfish, but I am and so is he. How do you engage when your children read?