CHALK NOTES: Spreading (Reading and Writing) LOVE with my Reluctant Reader

IMG_1912Funny how two kids can be so different. From the get-go my son loved reading. As a toddler, he’d bring me books to read together. By first grade he was reading at a third grade level. And all through elementary school when his teachers assigned 20 minutes of mandatory daily reading, he’d read ten times that and, even then, I’d have to take the book away and say, “It’s bedtime.”  Now age 12, that love of reading still flourishes. Need proof?  He requested that one of our snowy winters days be a Hunger Games reading marathon. I happily obliged.

My daughter, however, would rather have a cavity filled than curl up with a book. Reading, for her, is drudgery (because it hasn’t come easily) and those daily 20 minutes are tortuous. I’ve tried to make reading fun for her, by including our puppy in reading time (see separate post). She likes that. I’ve also made it interactive, i.e. she reads a page, then I read a page. She also loves that, but it hasn’t fostered independence. I have yet to see her curl up on her own in cozy corner to read.

But, over winter break, when we re-arranged her room, we discovered a new, fun way to read (and write) together.  It started out spontaneously, and has blossomed into a fun exchange where morning and night, we write each other notes on her chalk board.  My daughter, I have discovered, dispenses great fashion advice, as well as thoughtful expressions of love and appreciation.  We enjoy asking each other questions and wait eagerly for the answers.

My daughter still isn’t keen on mandatory reading time, but this daily exchange has blossomed into several sessions of song-writing and even a hand-penned story or two. Yay, I say! We’re headed in the right direction.

What about you?  I’d love to hear how you’ve instilled a love for words in the reluctant readers in your life.

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16 thoughts on “CHALK NOTES: Spreading (Reading and Writing) LOVE with my Reluctant Reader

  1. I love the chalkboard idea. So much fun. I have no kids, but it certainly seems like you’re doing what needs doing with your daughter. When I was a teacher, I read to my class every day. The books I read to them were always the ones that would fly off the library shelf in hot demand for months after. If you still read to her, have her follow along. Try stopping every few sentences and having her fill in the next word. It’s a fun fluency exercise.

    • Great tip, Genevieve. We alternate who’s reading and when it’s my turn I know she’s following along because if I skip a word she corrects me. It sounds like you were a fabulous teacher.

  2. What a wonderful story and idea! Such a creative way for her to be involved with something that wasn’t fun but is this way. And something special you share together. So nice when something spontaneous works out this way 🙂

  3. I feel blessed that I have two voracious readers. My challenge is finding ways to help my oldest tackle more advanced reading material and not become frustrated.

    My youngest installed a ‘mailbox’ outside her bedroom so that she could exchange notes to and from family members. Fun!

  4. My son is an avid reader, too. He’s 14. During Christmas break, I also had to tell him lights out a couple of times. He was reading one of the Divergent books or Hunger Games–don’t remember which.

    I also remember using a chalkboard with him when he was just learning to read. He was only around 4. I’d put a word on the chalkboard before going to bed and he’d hurry when he got up in the mornings to go see what the word was. They did something similar at school.

    We also did the Reader Rabbit thing, and used flashcards.

    Even when he was just a tiny baby, every night, I would read to him. I still remember the first night he read something on his own. He was four and we were reading Wacky Wednesday. We’d probably been reading that one every night for a couple of weeks, and one night he simply took the book from my hands and read it aloud on his own from cover to cover. My jaw kind of dropped, even though I knew a lot of it was learned by heart. lol He’s been reading ever since. 🙂

    I think reading with a reluctant reader is probably one of the best things you can do. You could even try to get your daughter to read one particular character’s dialogue, maybe?

  5. I like your chalkboard message idea, too! Both of my kids have taken onto reading mainly because they hooked onto a character series. Has your daughter found a character she loves? I think I told u about the Cul-de-sac Kids chapter book series by Beverly Lewis in which a family adopts some Korean kids. She might like those. My daughter did.

  6. I also have two kids (now grown). Like yours, one loved to read and the other was a more reluctant reader. He had a severe ADD problem growing up. So I started reading poetry to him — funny poems — and he loved that. He would open a book of poems and read through it. I think it had to do with knowing he could stop any time. To this, he still enjoys reading poetry which I’m glad about.

  7. That note is precious.
    Both my kids are readers, lucky them. But with DD it helped if we talked about the book she was reading. She’s a teen now, and it still does!
    This makes for some mighty stimulating conversations for writer-mom.

  8. This story makes me smile. So far my oldest is an enthusiastic (early) reader, and I’m very grateful for that. Even so, sometimes she would rather play with her dolls than be bothered by her daily reading homework. One of our tricks for getting her to complete her assigned books is to ask her to read them to her little sister. Then it becomes a game of make-believe school – her favorite activity – and it keeps both my girls occupied while I make dinner or clean the dishes! Bonus!

  9. When my son started to show a disinterest in reading I had to think quickly how to re-engage him. Being a typical boy, books weren’t loud or fast enough unlike his ipads, xbox, etc. So along with his ‘very good-reader-younger-sister’ we started to read in different accents from around the world. My son loves to read with a Scottish accent! We haven’t quite figured out what accent my daughter does, LOL! It works a treat!

  10. My daughter has always loved for me to read to her and she still loves picture books. I think it’s partially because she’s very artsy so she likes the illustrations. Anyway, now that she’s moving on to chapter books, I’m having the hardest time finding books that she likes. They can’t be too easy and they can’t be too hard. And for her, it seems to be that zany (but not mean) humor is the most important element. If a book isn’t funny and fast paced, she yawns uncontrollably. So far, she has really liked “Mrs. Noodlekugel” and “Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake”. Her reading level has shot up tremendously this year so I’m just going to let her go at her own pace. I think that’s important too. And I love your note idea!

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