20 Ways to Encourage Reading

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download (1)Studies show that the more kids read, the better they read and the more pleasure they get out of reading. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Children who read very little usually have poor reading skills. Reading can be a struggle for many children. Recently, I read an article written by RIF that had some great tips on how to encourage reading and I wanted to share some of that article with you.

Why do children at times not like reading? Read the statements below and ask yourself if they sound familiar.

  • It’s boring. 
  • I don’t have the time.
  • It’s too hard.
  • It’s not important.
  • It’s no fun.

20 Ways to Encourage Reading

I’ve stated why some kids don’t like to read, now for some ways to turn that frown upside down.

1. Scout for things your children might like to read. Use their interests and hobbies as starting points.

2. Leave all sorts of reading materials including books, magazines, and colorful catalogs in conspicuous places around your home.

3. Notice what attracts your children’s attention, even if they only look at the pictures. Then build on that interest; read a short selection aloud, or simply bring home more information on the same subject.

4. Let your children see you reading for pleasure in your spare time.

5. Take your children to the library regularly. Explore the children’s section together. Ask a librarian to suggest books and magazines your children might enjoy.

6. Present reading as an activity with a purpose—a way to gather useful information for, say, making paper airplanes, identifying a doll or stamp in your child‘s collection, or planning a family trip.

7. Encourage older children to read to their younger brothers and sisters. Older children enjoy showing off their skills to an admiring audience.

8. Play games that are reading-related. Check your closet for spelling games played with letter tiles or dice, or board games that require players to read spaces, cards, and directions.

9. Perhaps over dinner, while you’re running errands, or in another informal setting, share your reactions to things you read, and encourage your children to do likewise.

10. Set aside a regular time for reading in your family, independent of schoolwork—the 20 minutes before lights out, just after dinner, or whatever fits into your household schedule. As little as 10 minutes of free reading a day can help improve your child’s skills and habits.

11. Read aloud to your child, especially a child who is discouraged by his or her own poor reading skills. The pleasure of listening to you read, rather than struggling alone, may restore your child’s initial enthusiasm for books and reading.

12. Encourage your child to read aloud to you an exciting passage in a book, an interesting tidbit in the newspaper, or a joke in a joke book. When children read aloud, don’t feel they have to get every word right. Even good readers skip or mispronounce words now and then.

13. On gift-giving occasions, give books and magazines based on your child’s current interests.

14. Set aside a special place for children to keep their own books.

15. Introduce the bookmark. Remind your youngster that you don’t have to finish a book in one sitting; you can stop after a few pages, or a chapter, and pick up where you left off at another time. Don’t try to persuade your child to finish a book he or she doesn’t like. Recommend putting the book aside and trying another.

16. Treat your children to an evening of laughter and entertainment featuring books! Many children (parents, too) regard reading as a serious activity. A joke book, a story told in riddles, or a funny passage read aloud can reveal another side of reading.

17. Extend your child’s positive reading experiences. For example, if your youngster enjoyed a book about dinosaurs, follow-up with a visit to a natural history museum.

18. Offer other special incentives to encourage your child’s reading. Allow your youngster to stay up an extra 15 minutes to finish a chapter; promise to take your child to see a movie after he or she has finished the book on which it was based; relieve your child of a regular chore to free up time for reading.

19. Limit your children’s television viewing in an effort to make time for other activities, such as reading. But never use TV as a reward for reading, or a punishment for not reading.

20. Not all reading takes place between the covers of a book. What about menus, road signs, food labels, and sheet music? Take advantage of countless spur-of-the-moment opportunities for reading during the course of your family’s busy day.

Assembly at Alma Heights

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DS CoverI’m looking forward to visiting Alma Heights Christian School on Friday. It’s always exciting to talk with students about writing. Of all the ways to inspire children to read, I believe talking with an author rates up there at the top. Let’s face it, kids do a lot of reading. In a school year, children read countless stories, but they rarely have the opportunity to talk to a book author about writing. Another aspect of my visit on Friday that excites me is I will be able to put my books into readers’ hands. Something about selling books to real people is validating. All that hard work equals books sales and ultimately appreciation. I can’t wait!alma

Writing for Children

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One of my passions in life is writing for children. The itch to write started when I was in college taking classes to become a teacher. I decided that I wanted to do a bit of writing for myself. Up to that point I’d written a lot of lessons, papers, and done exercises, but for teachers and classes. That was when the words started flowing and the genre was children’s literature.

Many years later, I find myself writing fiction for children. Now I have a blog and website, a pen-name, a few books to my credit, and even a few speaking engagements. There’s nothing quite like writing for children because most young children love to read. Reading is just part of what you do when you’re growing up. The other thrill about writing for children is that kids love unusual stories and wacky characters.

My newest story is called Dot and Scribble Fall into AdventurePicture 2A final

Hudson rubbed his eyes and looked again at the strange looking stick girl, who definitely was not his mother. Then he looked at his hands—gloves. He stretched out his long arms and clumsy legs through the branches and leaves. He had landed in a tree. Hudson grabbed for anything and held on.

The realization hit him. Somehow, he’d fallen into his own picture. But who was he? What was he?

“You come down here right now, Scribble,” the stick girl ordered.

“Did you just call me Scribble?” Hudson asked.

“Yes, I called you Scribble, and my name is Dot.”

“No way.”

Dot stomped her foot. “You come down, this instant.”

Hudson, now Scribble, shook his head. Was he really a stick boy up a tree? Was he really about to take orders from a bossy stick girl named Dot?

“I’m not gonna fall,” he said.

“I’m warning you.”

“I’m fine,” Scribble said, lifting up his hands.

The next few moments happened too fast for him to react. First, he heard the crack of the limb, and then he was falling to meet the ground.

Boosh!

 

What is Adventure?

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What is adventure? Adventure is usually described as an undertaking, which involves danger. An event that involves a venture that requires overcoming a challenge. So, how does an adventure relate to literature or fiction?
In literature, the protagonist takes on a heroic quest, facing grave dangers. Whatever the task at hand, the protagonist must prove his or her worthiness. If the hero fails, dire consequences may befall the protagonist. In my soon to be released story, Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure, two characters set out on an adventure to get a magic key. Here’s an excerpt.

“Come on, let’s go on an adventure—just you and me.”

“Who’s gonna take care of Boon?” Dot replied. “Besides, it’s too dangerous.”

Scribble jumped up and down. “You know the way to the castle, don’t you?”

“Of course I know the way. All we do is follow that path. I also know the legend of the Key to Adventure. I don’t believe a word of it.”

Boon was jumping and splashing in the water.

“Getting the key is not worth the risk. It’s only a legend. A key worth all the wealth in the kingdom? Please.”

 

Characters on a Grand Adventure

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Naming characters in a story is tricky business. Names need to be unique and descriptive enough to help the reader visualize your characters. At the same time, names can’t be too weird. One of the characters in my newest story is the boy who draws the pictures. I named the boy Hudson because the explorer Henry Hudson was an explorer and the story would be about adventure. I struggled to name the other primary characters, I decided to plot the story out and then start writing. What do you know, the names came once I got into character. There names came as I wrote this scene.

Dot and Scribble were born.

Hudson looked at the picture and then at the pencil in his hand. “Come on, do your thing,” he commanded the pencil.

He knew all he could draw were stick figures. Who was he trying to fool? He drew a stick boy, frowned, and crossed him out. The boy wasn’t quite right. Maybe if he tried another.

He drew another stick person and smiled. “Better—some pretty hair and a nice dress,” he said to himself. The stick girl stood tall with straight legs, a polka dot dress, and wavy hair.

Hudson finished the picture of the stick girl, smiled, and added some dots for eyes. He looked at the stick boy and shook his head. “You’re Scribble, ‘cause you’re a mess.”

Scribble looked reckless in a fun kind of way, but he was no knight in shining armor. And the stick girl was hardly a princess.

He looked at the stick girl. “You’re Dot.”

Dot and Scribble smiled back at him.

 

Here’s to Adventure

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Picture 2aHave you ever wanted to escape into a story you’re reading or into a beautiful picture you’re viewing?

Come on, be honest. Sometimes fiction is more fun than reality. That’s why we like to read. That’s the premise for my newest book, Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure. A boy is transported into a picture he is drawing. The excerpt below is the moment when Hudson realizes he has changed into a stick figure character named Scribble.

“What are you doing up there?”

What was he doing up there in his room? He couldn’t quite remember. He had fallen. There was a picture.

If he opened his eyes, everything would be all right. His mother would be mad when she saw the mess, but he could clean it up. Hudson shook his head and cracked his eyes open.

He was outside.

Below, a girl stood with her hands on her hips. “What are you doing up there?” She stomped her foot. “You’re going to fall.”

Hudson rubbed his eyes and looked again at the strange looking stick girl, who definitely was not his mother. Then he looked at his hands—gloves. He stretched out his long arms and clumsy legs through the branches and leaves. He had landed in a tree. Hudson grabbed for anything and held on.

The realization hit him. Somehow, he’d fallen into his own picture. But who was he? What was he?

“You come down here right now, Scribble,” the stick girl ordered.

“Did you just call me Scribble?” Hudson asked.

“Yes, I called you Scribble, and my name is Dot.”

“No way.”

Dot stomped her foot. “You come down, this instant.”

Hudson, now Scribble, shook his head. Was he really a stick boy up a tree? Was he really about to take orders from a bossy stick girl named Dot?

“I’m not gonna fall,” he said.

“I’m warning you.”

“I’m fine,” Scribble said, lifting up his hands.

The next few moments happened too fast for him to react. First, he heard the crack of the limb, and then he was falling to meet the ground.

Boosh!

Dot marched over to meet Scribble who was in a heap on the ground. “You’re broken again,” Dot said. She picked up something and handed it to him. “Look.”

It was his arm. Not only was he a stick boy, but he was a klutz. Scribble shook his head at Dot’s gesture. “That’s my arm? What do I do with that?”

 

A New Adventure Begins

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photoRecently, I made the decision to do some dog sitting. I went to a site called Rover.com, filled out a profile, got a review, and the rest is history as they say. I just finished my first job with a dog named Kira. We had a great time walking and playing fetch. Kira turned out to be everything that my present dog isn’t. What a contrast! Roxy doesn’t play fetch. Kira would play fetch for hours. Roxy lays around all day–especially after a walk. Kira is never idle. And the list goes on. Of course this made me think about the dog in my current story, Dot and Scribble Fall into Adventure.

I named the dog Boon in my story and let’s just say Boon is a lot like Kira: lively, carefree, and always alert. Here’s an excerpt from the story.

Then Scribble felt something wet on his hand. He was afraid to look down, but he did. A stick dog with huge ears and a fuzzy line for a tail stared back at him.

“Does he bite?” Scribble asked, pulling away. The dog knocked Scribble over, bit his arm, and slobbered all over him.

“Of course he bites,” Dot said.

“Stop it,” Scribble said.

“Now you’re both dirty,” Dot fussed.

“Get this mutt off me.”

“His name is Boon, silly. Maybe if you were nice to our dog, he wouldn’t bite you, but I doubt it. He knows you too well.”

“Okay, Boon.” Scribble patted the dog. “How was that?” Boon jumped on Scribble again, covering him with more mud.“I think Boon needs a little adventure.”

Dot pushed the dog away.“We have all the adventure we need right here,” Dot said.

“Is that so?”

Scribble felt something latch onto his foot. He looked down at Boon who had his foot in his mouth. “Hey! Boon took my foot. Give me that, you crazy dog.”

He took off after the dog, running like a peg-leg pirate. He heard Dot sigh behind him, but he was already on his way.

 

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