How to Inspire Children to Read

This podcast will focus on how to inspire even the most reluctant readers to read. While some children catch onto reading quickly and delve into it as a treasured past time, many children struggle with reading for a variety of reasons. I interview award-winning teacher, Alex Corbitt, to find out how we can inspire children to read and love literacy even when reading has been a struggle or a source of frustration in the past.

Special Guest: Alex Corbitt

Learning to read seems like a rite of passage for our little ones. We start with our ABCs and move on to more complex words and phrases. I still remember when my little ones started putting letter sounds together and making words. It was so exciting! Many children enjoy reading and do it often—at home, in school, at our local libraries and in waiting rooms. But not every child is an avid reader—and not every child learns to read with ease. How do we help our reluctant readers thrive and how do we inspire our less interested readers to love literacy? For these answers, I have a wonderful guest who is actually a teacher to help us help our children love to read.

Alex Corbitt (@Alex_Corbitt) is a middle school English teacher in The Bronx, New York. His work focuses on socio-emotional learning, gamification, education technology, and literacy. He loves learning from other teachers and he regularly presents at conferences around the United States. And I follow him on twitter because not only does he share some of my infographics on how to talk to kids about different topics and how to start conversations about respect and focus—but he shares some incredibly relevant and interesting infographics from other educators who are doing important work to get our kids to love learning. Oh- and he didn’t say this in his bio but he’s had a lot of recognition for being a distinguished educator—I get the sense that he’s well loved and innovative and we’ve got a lot to learn from him.

The podcast provides:

  • Why are some kids reluctant readers?
  • Tips: How to inspire reluctant readers to read (and want to do it)?
  • Tips to help struggling readers.
  • How we can create a culture of reading in our homes?
  • Scripts: What to say to a reluctant reader to get him/her interested in reading.
  • How can technology support rather than compete with the love of reading?
  • What kids should be reading now.

Important Messages:

  • Reading is part of being a good citizen. It’s how you learn about the world.
  • Some kids are reluctant readers because it’s hard for them. Some don’t want to put themselves in a vulnerable situation where they could potentially embarrass themselves. Some have low attention spans.
  • Give kids who struggle with reading—high interest, low lexile books that have interesting stories that are at their age level but are at their level in terms of difficulty.
  • Develop growth mindset in readers.
  • Classically, in school, the books we give children to read are by authors who are white, male, dead and straight- coming from a hetero-normative perspective. This reaches only a very small segment of our kids. We need to bring in books that explore different perspectives, cultures, and identities. Let’s rethink curriculum and books.
  • Books should help us to think more deeply and to help us feel more valued.
  • Put books in all areas of your home and school so books are easily accessible.
  • Demonstrate what it looks like to have a reading life- model a love of reading.
  • Be real with kids- share your struggles with reading, if you have them. Tell them that there are some books that you don’t like. Be honest! Show them what it means to be human and still love reading.
  • Allow space for student choice. Be more open-minded about what they want to read.
  • The books they choose are their entry point. Then they can learn to love reading.
  • Be patient, give choice. Then things will click on the time table of kids.
  • Let your children know that many of the best movies come from books!
  • Give the kids a trailer of the book—just like a movie- to get them interested!
  • Entice kids with the same things that get us interested in books.
  • Read with your children.
  • Make audio books with yourself reading with corny sound effects!
  • Model reading with fluency.
  • We need to read more so our kids see us reading. We need to do the work if we want our kids to do the work. There’s a lot of work that goes into getting kids to love reading beyond putting a book in our kids’ hands.

Notable Quotables:

  • “Being an informed, empowered citizen is dependent upon your ability to read, write and think critically.”
  • “Some kids are reluctant readers because it’s hard for them. Other students would rather not read than be vulnerable and visibly struggle if they are in an environment where they are not supported. Still other children are reluctant readers because the books we give them don’t reflect their identities. And finally, kids may be reluctant readers because they have lower attention spans.”
  • “When teaching kids to love reading, we need to focus less on kids being ‘smart’ and giving the right answer and more on kids being creative, putting themselves out there, being vulnerable and asking questions.”
  • “Kids need to be able to look into books and see themselves reflected back at them.”
  • “How can we expect all kids to love books when so many of the books we give them to read privilege or center on only one type of person?”
  • “A good book should help us understand ourselves better.”
  • “Maybe kids aren’t reluctant readers. Maybe we just aren’t meeting their needs.”
  • “We need to teach kids to make reading time sacred.”
  • “To build a reading culture, saturate your space with books!”
  • “Don’t censor what kids want to read. Let them go at their own pace. Progress might be slow going and then something may just click.”
  • “Your kids are never to old to have you read to them.”