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Launching a Later Reader

A few weeks back I asked my readers for advice regards motivating a later reader.
“Any great ideas on how to motivate an 8yr old girl to read?  She is so close to reading independently but doesn’t want to put in the hard work, ’cause it is hard at this stage.  I’m open to bribery suggestions;)”

I received some great suggestions, they included, bribery with cake, bingo sheets, paying 1c/page, ‘motivation’ with a Maccas meal, further ideas via a link or hosting a reading competition with a book as a reward. The last suggestion was from our Anna Maria and reminded me of our ‘Bookworm Competitions’ that we began five years ago and had revisited from time to time.

As our Bookworm Competition had met with success in the past and received interest from our current beginner reader we decided to revisit this challenge once again. Every book that Jelly Bean read was to ‘equal a circle’, building onto the body of the ‘worm’, when 20 circles have been amassed she was to receive a reward.  My intention was the prize was to be a book, JB argued however for a packet of lollies, so the deal was sealed. Not to miss out on the fun Jack Jack and Princess decided to enter the competition, even an older lad decided to start a worm for fond memories’ sake:)

The ‘game was on’ and for the next fortnight our main focus was reading, hours and hours and with two beginner readers, listening for me and the occasional older sibling.  Jelly Bean(8.5) is more fluent than Jack Jack(6.5) so the level of difficulty in their book choices reflected that, Princess(11) reads totally independently.

As the fortnight progressed fluency and confidence with both children began increasing at a rapid rate. Jelly Bean can now read simple picture books with ease and is only a ‘hairbreath’ away from being independent, even more exciting she is now keen to read!!  Her previous lack of interest has played a large part in her lack of progress.  Jelly Bean has even discussed that she would like to receive a book as a prize in the ‘second 20’!  Reading comes easily to Jack Jack and he is moving along quite rapidly, it is quite apparent that he won’t be a later reader and should ‘launch’ sometime next year.  Both our younger readers have achieved their goal of 20 ‘worm circles’ and eaten their packet of lollies. They are now preparing to begin the next 20.

Having a later reader does present a challenge in the matter of reading material.  Standard basic readers do not interest them at all, they feel babyish and non-motivating they are after all written for a younger audience.  To find books that are not too difficult yet engaging is a challenge, Jelly Bean solved the dilemma by refusing to read our standard basic readers and insisted on picture books, some of them quite difficult and some more appropriate to her ability.  The easier Mem Fox books were perfect for her needs, from there with renewed confidence and ability we progressed to the more difficult picture books.  Jack Jack also enjoyed Mem’s books and is switching back and forth between basic picture books and the standard readers.

Finding books for the most basic level is covered by our school readers; Fitzroy, Faith and Freedom and the Queensland readers(our favourite) but I always find it a challenge with the next stage, the children are not quite ready for most of the Dr Suess or other engaging books.  Fortunately as Jelly Bean solved the solution with her choice of picture books and then we began looking at short ‘chapter’ style books, she had definite ideas of what she did and didn’t like, thankfully we had a few selections. DK readers (Level 1) met with her approval and from there she fell in love with Amelia Bedelia๐Ÿ™‚  she is reading through the three we own and more are in the post.  At this stage the ‘game plan’ is to continue to capture and keep her interest.

Jelly Bean isn’t our first later reader, I’ve shared before Michelangelo’s journey, and my thoughts and reflections on his journey, to continue Michelangelo’s story, whilst he wasn’t reading for pleasure until ten, this year his 13th, could easily be dubbed “The Year of the Reading Binge”.  All year he has either been reading continuously for hours each day or listening to talking books, whilst I could be annoyed as he has neglected much else whilst he has worked his way through entire series of Redwall, Deltora Quest and many more, I too easily remember the hard slog to get there.

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