Ingenious Way to Motivate Reluctant Readers

by First Mate Keira

I stumbled on an ingenious way to motivate my two reluctant readers. The one doesn’t like reading and will only do it if the book captures her quickly and only if the book is set down right in front of her face. The other likes to read, but has recently been sucked into text messaging, Facebook, and new favorite TV shows to give it much time.

This school vacation the law was laid down. They had two options and only two. Which option they picked was entirely up to them.

The first option was to read a really big nonfiction book with lots and lots of pages a little bit each day. Just 2 pages was required each day for a total of 14 pages a week. If they started this way and decided later to go the other route that was fine.

The second way (and the way they both chose to go) was to read 1 book a week of their choosing during the summer. The size of the book, genre, didn’t matter.

If they failed to complete the book or the 14 pages during the week they would spend the next week without friend time and you know how disastrous that would be over the break!

A trip to the library later, and now we have about 12 books sitting in a pile for them to read. We decided more books was better than fewer books, that way if a book failed to grab them they had more options for reading material.

Have you found a completely ingenious way to motivate your reluctant readers? Please share in the comments below!

7 Reasons Why Kids Should Read


by Captain Lyaf Yarr

A lot of kids I know don’t like to read. They say “why should I read? It’s just a waste of time!” I firmly believe kids should read and not just because I like to do so. Here are my top 7 reasons why kids should read.

1. Kids should read because it improves their vocabulary. Don’t believe? Keep an eye out for a post on how Twilight can do that in the near future. Are you thinking you learn vocab in school, so why learn more? Your vocabulary improves faster by reading than if you didn’t and you not only are smarter you sound it too.
2. Reading saves energy. It’s true! If you choose to read over watching television or playing video games you’re saving energy that you would be wasting. So read or pick something that doesn’t waste any electricity.
3. Reading also helps you with other skills such as visualizing. Use that imagination!
4. Kids should read because they will learn interesting, and useful information for an assignments or for fun. For example: books are always my first choice for writing papers. I have learned how fireworks were invented, all about the earth’s layers, Claude Monet, and much much more.
5. Reading helps kids write better. For example you could say, “The cat ran up the tall tree because she was scared;” or “The cat scurried up the towering tree because she was frightened.” Now which one do you think is most interesting? If you guessed the second one you are correct!
6. Reading provides characters as role models and teach kids about social situations too. Let’s say there’s a bully at school and a kid is having trouble with this bully. That kid then reads Harry Potter and stand up for himself like Harry does to Malfoy. Neat!
7. My seventh and final reason why kids should read is because, it sets an example for other kids. I love to read, it makes me sad to think a lot of kids are missing out on the stories that have made such an impact on me. So grab your library card and go book browsing!

5 Reasons Why You Should Read with a Buddy

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

If your the type of person that loves to read but also loves hanging out and seeing your friends, then why not read with your friends? It’s like killing two birds with one stone! Here are my 5 reasons why I think buddy reading is essential:

  1. Reading together is fun! No, seriously it is. Even if reading isn’t your favorite thing to do. Get together with a friend and decide if you’ll read the same book, different books, or share an audio book experience while playing a board game or something. You don’t have to read alone.
  2. Got a question? Your buddy can explain something that you don’t understand. They can do this while you are actively reading so you can comprehend what’s going on and not guess and maybe miss something important which would ruin the whole experience.
  3. You can talk about the book together. If you’re both reading the same book you can talk about it as you go. This is what a lot of Harry Potter readers did over the years with new releases. You can share your thoughts as you read and talk about your likes and dislikes. It’s also a good way to pace yourself, see what your reading speed is compared to your friend. Try not to get too far ahead!
  4. It’s a great way to get both parental units to say yes to a slumber party or extra play date! If you’re reading how can they possibly say no? It’s every parents’ dream to get you away from the computer, video games, and tv. Plus it means for the most part you’ll be quiet(er). :D
  5. You can read together anywhere. Go to the park, both of your houses, the treehouse, the beach, at the library, etc. Lots of choices and places to read. You’ll never be bored.

Do you have a reading buddy?

Be a Ninja Parent: Get Your Child Reading with Five Super Sneaky Moves


Are you tired of fighting your child on the importance of reading? Do you wish you could snuff the “I hate/can’t read” stubbornness and get them to read without having to “force” it on them? Use these five sneaky moves to brush up on your ninja skills and you can do just that. Turn your child into a reader by employing these master ninja tips:

1.      Put audio books on in the car. Listening to books is as good as reading them. This sneaky ninja move will be great for you and your reluctant reader because it is using time that would be spent traveling anyway. No extra time is taken out of your schedule or your child’s fighting over reading. Listening improves vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension, and expands listening skills. Maybe the next time you ask for their room to be cleaned, they might do it! (Or maybe not, it is cleaning after all. Even the best ninja parenting tricks can only go so far.)

2.      Watch TV/movies together. You didn’t read that wrong. I mean it. This ninja parent move focuses on foreign films and television. Put the subtitles on and voila! Your reluctant reader is reading. This is a great way to improve reading speed and grammar. Your child will probably laugh at or mentally fix incorrect translations. Encourage your child to share these findings with you and you do the same. It’s an English lesson on the sly! There are lots of wonderful foreign films and productions easily accessible using services like Netflix or Amazon Instant Videos.

3.      Play video games with story lines. Many video games use narrative to explain what is going on during transitions in game play. Sit down with your child and pull out that controller. If the video game doesn’t read the text out loud, encourage your child to do so or your do it. Insist on having to know what is being written so you can figure out what to do next in the game. Do it even if you or your child understands what to do due to intrinsic play design. This sneaky ninja parent move in addition to reading encourages one-on-one interaction and bonding and teamwork. What kid would say “no” to video games?

4.      Go to the zoo or aquarium. Explore your local zoo or aquarium and read all the plaques on the different animals. Depending on your child, make the trip one big grand adventure. Consider making a documentary scrapbook. Go as wildlife explorers with all the gear. Bring a camera, a drawing pad, a notebook, crayons, pencil, pen, and tape (to stick interesting objects into your notebooks/drawing pads). Have your child draw or photograph the animals and write down interesting facts about them. Interview zookeepers/marine biologists and write down their responses. You’re ninja parenting will conquer reading and writing at the same time. Plus you’ll have a lot of fun doing it. When you’re done, your scrapbook will be full of great memories!

5.      Go to the museum. Pick a museum – any museum: art, science, history, etc. Pack a lunch for you and your reluctant reader and get ready to put your ninja skills to the test. Turn your museum trip into a quest with a gift shop souvenir as a prize. What you will need to do: Read up about the exhibitions beforehand and come up with a treasure map with a fill in the blank message. Then give your child a key to unlock the message. (Think National Treasure, where the little boy is running back and forth to look up particular alphabet letters in Ben Franklin’s letters to a newspaper to spell something.) All the clues should be findable on the plaques for the exhibitions. Before you know it your child will be happily reading and exploring.

What other ninja parenting moves do you have up your sleeves? Share what has worked for you!

Photo Credits: brunkfordbraun

5 Ways to Set and Meet Reading Goals


by Captain Lyaf Yarr and First Mate Keira

Most kids need motivation to start let alone finish a book. I’m going to share tips with on how to set and reach reading goals. I hope they help you!

  1. Required Reading for School: When you get a new book divide that book into how many days you have to read it in. Put sticky notes or index cards or bookmarks to mark those sections. Then read one section a day and read all the pages in that section. Pretty soon, before you know it, you’ve read the whole book. Congrats! Extra tip: be sure to start well before report is due! No stress that way.
  2. Reading More Books: First, decide how many books you want read in a week or a month. Now refer to tip one and figure out how many days in the week/month you have for each book. Be sure to start and finish your books within the time frame you figured out so you can reach your goal. You can even use this idea for a yearly book reading goal!
  3. Daily Reading: Set aside time in your day for reading. When this time comes, stop what you’re doing and read. I suggest setting aside an hour of reading time for when you first wake up or before going to bed. By reading every day you’re not going to forget anything about the book and have to start it over or backtrack and waste time.
  4. Listening to Books: Audio books are a great nook and cranny way of fitting in more books. You can listen to them while cleaning your room, when riding around in a car, while exercising, and simply hanging out at home. However you can fit it in is great just make sure you’re doing something where you can listen and pay attention.
  5. Nook and Cranny Reading: Read whenever you have a chance. Carry a book with you in your backpack, purse, bag, carrying case, whatever, just make sure you have one! There are so many places to read and many moments of time you can snatch for reading. For example: you can read in a car trip, when you are in line for something, before class starts and even before you go to bed.

Now that I have told you some of my tips for reading goals tell me yours. What do you do?

Get Bored While Reading? Kiss Boredom Goodbye in 6 Quick Steps

by First Mate Keira

Do you find yourself falling asleep while reading? Are you constantly bored during school assignments? Conquer your boredom and perk up with these six easy steps:

1. Take a Music Break.

Pick a song or two from your playlist and turn the volume up. Now get up sing, dance, and move around. Be wild and crazy and expend a lot of energy. When the songs are over, turn your music off and pick up your book again. You’ll be refreshed and excited.

2. Move to a New Location.

If you’re falling asleep get off the couch, off your bed, off that comfy chair and move. Wake yourself up by going somewhere else and setting up shop again. You can go somewhere quiet like a library with bright florescent lights. You can go somewhere social and loud like a café type restaurant.

3. Give Yourself Permission to Mark.

A great way to keep focus and stay alert when reading for school is to mark your textbook. Use highlighters, rulers, sticky notes, pens, whatever. Do what’s easy and fun and mark up passages that are particularly long by highlighting the need to know information. This is a great study tip too! Warning: Only do this if you actually own the book and it’s not a school copy.

4. Read with a Friend.

Whether it’s an academic assignment or something you want to read, getting together with a friend is a pleasant way to get the reading done. You can read together discussing things out loud as you go along or by yourselves side by side only speaking up to point out something interesting or to ask a question.

5. Get a Snack.

Sometimes the reason you’re bored while reading is because you’re low on energy. Stop reading and go grab yourself a small snack. I suggest fruit because it’s crisp, clean, and full of good nutrients. Fruit smoothies work too and they’re cold. If you’re on campus you have the added benefit of walking and extending the break on your eyes and relieving that cooped up feeling.

6. Get Comfortable.

If you’re warm, take off your coat or turn on a fan. If you’re cold, put a jacket on or wrap up in a blanket. Sometimes your boredom arises because you’re focusing too much on minor discomforts. (Perversely if you think you’re bored because you’re too comfortable do the opposite and get uncomfortable!)

What else do you suggest for alleviating boredom while reading?