Posted by: Daisy | April 1, 2009

Getting a little boy to read

I just had a conversation last night with someone lamenting her issues with getting her son interested in reading and I relayed to her what worked for me.

My little one always enjoyed being read to, however he didn’t seem that interested in taking the book by the hands and figuring out how to do it himself.  Then a few magical things happened:

First, it was Starfall which I highly recommend to anyone with young kids.  From that site, he started reading by going through the exercises.  It somehow engaged him and then he took that interest from the internet, right down to the book level.

Second and third, I found subjects that interested him.  He loves dinosaurs, trucks Scooby Doo, Superheros, Transformers, stars, sun and moon.  Whatever he wanted to read, I found things related to the subject.  Here’s a funny example – he likes to read how-to-manuals and instruction pages (you know, the stuff that comes with a schematic picture and some words).  I hate those things and dread them with a passion.  He likes them and wants to read them, so, if that’s what he wants, he snuggles into my lap and we read all the words on the instruction page and I try to be patient.

He loves his non-fiction, so go with it.  So, if you can find non-fiction books about something he’s interested in and even throw in a little mystery, he’s all over it.  One book with all of the above that he absolutely loves is Uneversaurus by Aidan Potts.  This book goes through the mystery of determining what dinosaurs looked like including their colours.  Excellent book, even for the adults.

Lastly, after getting him going, he’s now finding that one of his favourite activities is to write his own books so that he dreams up his own characters and their own mystery adventures.  He’s reading extremly well now and surprises me every day with his capabilities.  He’s even said multiple times, “I want to be an author when I grow up”.  He’s also said “I want to be a dump truck driver” too so I think he’s still trying on different hats.
– Daisy
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Responses

  1. I’ll have to check out that Starfall website. There seems to be a buzz about it in the preschool circuit. To get my son to read we used Captain Underpants (nothing like potty humor for a boy), comic books (Garfield, etc…), Pokemon books and Popular Science magazine. He still is not a big reader, but I have found he likes Jules Verne now that he is older, and Lord of the Rings Trilogy along with the Hobbit. Reading is still not his favorite thing, but he doesn’t hate it. I’m hoping he does get some enjoyment out of it as he grows older.

    Love Starfall and yes, it’s geared to preschoolers and I guess I’d call them pre-readers? – those just starting.

    Captain Underpants? I don’t dare tell my little guy about that one, oh dear, he likely won’t stop talking about it. – Daisy

  2. My daughter LOVES Starfall. Loves. It. Finding subjects that interest is probably the single most effective thing you can do. It’s not that children don’t want to read, they just need a reason to.

    I love Starfall and what it’s done for mine. Wow. He seriously couldn’t care less about the whole word thing until we started with Starfall. I think he found the site plain and simply fun, and the learning to read part was just the result – Daisy

  3. comics are always a good one, and if you think about it they are not that easy to read. As very often two or three people are talking at once, so you not only have to read the words you have to decide who goes first.

    You are absolutely right. I have always had trouble reading comics – I find them actually a bit confusing and disjointed because I feel that I can not multi-task and switch from looking at the images to reading the words. Funny thing since I am otherwise an excellent multi-tasker! So, yes, it’s true – I don’t look much at the pictures in a picture book! – Daisy

  4. My son was a very capable reader from an early age, the problem was in getting him to enjoy it. Then we went to the museum where they had a talk by the author Simon Chapman. Bart was engaged and it was just a case of redirecting him once he had finished that.

    We too have now been through all the Captain Underpants books as well as the Horrid Henry books and dangerous books for boys etc … I even got him reading all the Secret Seven books as we had been reading the Famous Five books together.

    Oh boy, it looks like I’ll have to return to the library and find a few of these gems! (This coming from someone who just visited the library yesterday, returned 22 books, and borrowed another 25). – Daisy

  5. I’m still a little sore about libraries at the moment as I just took back 3 bags of overdue books and I had to pay £25 in late fees 😯

    I feel sheepish that I was mad at self that I had to pay $6 (a whole lot less than you) for 3 DVD’s I returned one day late. Oops. Yes, I’d be in quite a bit of shock if I were you too. So, you prevent the overdue fees by avoiding the library now?!! – Daisy

  6. No, we try to be pragmatic and see it as a hire charge, on that basis even at £25 for the number of items and the overdueness of them (don’t ask) I think it was fairly cheap.

    Well NOW I’m really curious as to just how many items and how late was it?!!! Perhaps they should give you a break for 2009 and say you’ve already paid the maximum fine this year and simply welcome you back since you and your family are such avid readers (or borrowers of library material). 🙂 – Daisy


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