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Making Required Reading a Positive Experience

My son’s teacher requires him to read for twenty minutes five nights a week. We spend twice that amount of time trying to get him to complete the reading. I am sure these battles will result in him hating to read. How can I make required reading a positive experience?

Significant factors in creating a good reading experience are the level of the material and the subject matter. Help your son select a book about something he enjoys with a reading level that is easy for him. This should help pique his interest and keep him from feeling frustrated. Types and levels of books can be adjusted later.

Create a positive environment for reading that is relatively free from distractions. Engage your son by reading alongside him. If that does not work, read together. Read a paragraph or a page and have him read the next one. Periodically stop to talk about what you have read. Involve other readers in the house if they are available to help keep the atmosphere light. Another option is to check out audio books from your local library along with their hard copies. Have your son listen to the book for a few minutes and then read some of it on his own. Consider reading the first 25-30 pages aloud so that your son becomes hooked on the particular story.

If focusing is a challenge, set a timer for ten minutes and encourage him to do something physical like jumping jacks for just a minute or two, then return to ten minutes of reading. Gradually increase the amount of time spent reading by small increments. Decrease the duration of the breaks. In no time, your son will be reading for the full allotment required.

You can also try turning the assignment into a challenge. Make a chart and graph how long your son is reading without becoming distracted or without complaining. When he meets the 20 minute challenge, offer a small reward like doing his chores the next day. Perhaps seeing his own progress will be the encouragement he needs to persevere.


Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four who holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Deb has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]

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