Reading requires a lot of efforts from early readers. Sometimes, these efforts put them off, even if they are doing well. The idea of reading an early reader book can bore them in advance, or even daunt them.
Here are little hacks you might want to test with your child, and see if some of them can tickle their curiosity beyond their reluctance. Even if it is not much reading compared with formal book reading, every little helps. A little reading everyday goes a long way. And the use of reading outside the formal educational framework of books might also make it less intimidating and give it a more practical approach that might speak more to children (remember, they are pragmatic).
- Karaoke – Inspired by a fellow bilingual mum’s experience, I recently experimented that…and it has been a huge hit with my 6-year old! I showed her YouTube videos of her favourite Disney movies with the lyrics, and showed her how to pause the videos to be able to read the lyrics to sing them. She also enjoyed using my computer as I never allow her to and had the initiative to use the paddle to follow the lyrics with the pointer. We had a great time singing together. It is definitely worth a shot!
- Comics – The text in bubbles might seem less massive than full paragraphs, even if the book includes illustrations. A plus side to comics is that it has illustrations for everything said, hence helping the child to understand what they are reading. Some publishers do offer early reader comics such as Scholastic’s Haggis and Tank Unleashed. To make reading even less scary and more fun, you could read it together, each reading a different character. For the anecdote, when my husband moved to France, he read loads of comics to pick up French. So comics definitely seem like a good language learning tool. 😉
- Labels – In 12 ideas to add subtle exposure to the minority language , I mentioned creating subtle minority language (ml) exposure through labelling glass jars. This labelling (which can be extended beyond the kitchen in some circumstances) gives the child the opportunity to read simple things. Much less daunting than a paragraph or book. It also labels things of their daily life, and not something as abstract as a story.
- Materials related to their interest – For instance, my 6-year old has an interest in yoga (she assimilates it to gymnastics) and spontaneously read Mariam Gates’s “Goodnight Yoga” on her own and did the poses on her own.
- Sticker albums – some sticker albums might contain a bit of text. If your child is fond of the sticker’s theme/character, s/he might be tempted to make the effort to read the related text.
- Trading cards – At the moment, Pokemon trading cards are a hit at my daughter’s primary school. They contain an illustration but also a little text. If your child is interested in that kind of things, why not look up something of the kind? 😉
- Games involving a little reading – Some games like happy families or quiz contain a little text. This could be a nice subtle way to incite your child to read in a playful situation.
- Mystery word – If your child is curious and likes guessing games, why not try creating a mystery word? It is not much reading, but it is still a little grain of sand toward building your child’s confidence in reading.
- Leaving short messages – In my Captive Reading Ideas board, I suggest the use of leaving short messages about your child using brightly coloured chalk-markers on unusual surfaces such as mirrors.
- Having a ml schedule for your child’s week – This could be a nice subtle way to get your child to read. The short text about their day-to-day might once again feel less intimidating and more practical than paragraphs and stories.
Your child might not spontaneously read the text on the above listed resources. But with a little pointer such as showing interest for his trading cards and asking him/her about the text might do the trick.
Also bear in mind that up until now, you child has been accustomed to a grown up reading for them. It might not even cross their mind to use their budding reading skills. So do give them gentle reminders whenever you see fit, to encourage them to use their newly acquired reading skills and make them feel that they are now “big” and can do like the “big ones”.
Do you have any hacks to share? Please use the Comment section to add them to this list! 🙂