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Nancy Coolidge | Help your student become a joyful reader

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More and more often I hear, “My son is a good reader, but he doesn’t enjoy reading,” or “I can’t get her to pick up a book and read for pleasure.”

If reading is a struggle, students are less likely to willingly read. But what are some things we can do to foster a love of reading? The following suggestions are for young readers — get an early start so that reading becomes a habit.

  • Read aloud to your children. It’s OK to read from books written at a higher level. Choose books that are interesting to you, so that you will be as excited about the story as they.
  • Help your child learn five new words every day. Keep a word box or basket where you deposit new words daily. Once a week, pull random words from your basket for review.
  • Label your child’s pictures whenever he or she draws. Teach your child to read actively.
  • Label objects around the house. Jack London, author of “Call of the Wild” and “Sea Wolf,” used to post vocabulary words all over his house: on the bathroom mirror, on the kitchen window, on the furniture.
  • Always look at the pictures included in the books you are reading. Talk about the pictures before ever starting to read. What does the picture show? What is happening in the picture? After looking at and discussing the picture, discuss what you think the story is going to be about. Do the same thing with the title and the cover of the book.
  • Set an example. Read daily; read eagerly; talk about what you are reading.

Interestingly, all of these suggestions can be applied to the older student as well. I used to read to my ninth and 11th graders from time to time, and they loved it! They were attentive, involved, comfortable. They often checked out the book we were reading so they could “find out what happened” instead of having to wait for me.

Reading is a habit. Develop the habit when children are young and it will serve them for a lifetime.

Wenatchee resident Nancy Coolidge is a classroom teacher, radio personality and director of several Sylvan Learning Centers. You can ask her a question by posting a comment on her Good Habits, Great Grades blog at or by emailing