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How to help kids become lifelong readers

FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014 10:27 AM

The Common Core State Standards are designed to promote a strong focus on reading in schools. No matter the subject, students must analyze various types of texts that support the lesson's topic. They could read a firsthand account in history class or assess an essay in English. However, just because students must read frequently doesn't mean they'll necessarily come to love the task. Turning students into lifelong readers takes a little more strategy than simply following Common Core Standards. Fortunately, teachers and parents alike can foster a love of reading in their students. Here are a few tricks sure to teach students the wonders of reading:

Read aloud
Many parents read to their young children, but stop once the kids can read on their own. However, reading aloud is a practice that can continue longer than many think. By reading aloud, you create a shared experience. You get to go on the adventure with your child. In general, reading with a parent or teacher is a positive memory for kids. They get to snuggle up to mom and dad or sit at their teacher's feet as they hear how the hero is tackling the latest obstacle. Teachers and parents can help create a positive association with reading by doing so aloud.

Follow their interests
As students read a certain series or genre, they may come to love it. Kids frequently attach themselves to the style of literature they are currently reading and end up asking for more and more. While you may feel that students should diversify their reading, it's not something you have to worry about. Any love for reading is a good thing, so if a student wants to read more mysteries or fantasies, let them. If you're a teacher, recommend books you think your students would like based on their interests. 

Provide reading time
Students aren't going to read if they don't have the opportunity to do so. Whether you're a parent or a teacher, you can and should schedule a daily reading time. This could be a break between subjects in school or an after-dinner activity - when you do it is up to you. You should also pick up a book during this time. Many students don't want to perform a task their parent or teacher won't do with them. Share your love of reading by using the time you've set aside to read together.

Offer plenty of choices
Make sure students always have a book to read. That may mean taking trips to the library, a bookstore or book fair. Schools have their own libraries, which is a great resource for classrooms. Of course, if you're a teacher, you can build your own library too. Consider setting up shelves in your classroom and filling them with books. You can also add pillows or bean bag chairs on which the students can sit during free reading time. Parents can even start a home library. Surround kids with books to encourage reading.

Support author fandom
Kids are likely to love a certain author just as much as a writing style or genre. Parents, if your children show interest in a single writer, make an effort to support that enthusiasm. Take your kids to book signings if the author is in town. Stay up to date on the latest novels by the writer. Buy them a set of the author's novels for their birthday or a holiday. Teachers, you can point your students to where the author's books are in your school's library.

Read anything
While you may consider literature a higher form of writing than, say, comics, the latter is still valuable. Students will gain a love of reading and the skills necessary to support it by finishing a comic. Whether it's books, magazines, comics or newspapers, your children or students will learn by reading.