How to Turn a Struggling Reader into an Avid Reader: 10 Book GIVEAWAY

September 4, 2012

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: 10 Book Library Pack

Why we love these books:

This week I’m sharing my personal story with my son who was a struggling reader for many years and I’ll highlight a few of the strategies I used to turn him from a struggling reader into an avid reader.

The most important suggestion I can offer is read, read, read and then read some more to your children. All homes and classrooms should be stocked with a good library. Here at waddlee-ah-chaa our mission is to get books into the hands of children, parents and teachers. Accordingly, we highlight and GIVE AWAY great children’s literature EVERY week. Just leave a comment and you’re entered. That’s it . . . no hoops to jump through, no tricks, no tweets, no likes . . . If you already have an excellent library then come win books for a child in need and give them away! Help us with our book giveaway mission.

A good children’s library has a variety of books. In this pack you’ll find easy books, challenge books, silly books, serious books, classic books, fiction books and nonfiction books. Good luck and enjoy reading to a child today.

My Personal Story with a Struggling Reader

MacGyver, preschool journal entry, age 4

I am a former classroom teacher, certified Reading Recovery Teacher and an educational consultant. In a nut shell, I teach children how to read and I train teachers how to implement effective classroom reading strategies. I certainly know how to equip a child with a strong early literacy foundation. Consequently, I never even considered that I would give birth to a child who would have difficultly learning to read. Making assumptions was my first mistake.

MacGyver showed all the signs of being an early reader. He memorized books, page by page, word for word. He experimented with writing and wrote little notes by age 3. Of course these notes were full of random letters and numbers but he obviously understood that text carries a message.

When we began homeschool kindergarten, I quickly learned that MacGyver was not ready to read.  Simply put, he could not remember his letters and he struggled to hear the sounds letters make. I have to admit that I found MacGyver’s kindergarten and first grade year extremely perplexing and frustrating. But rather than giving-up or shaming him, we moved forward little by little.

I’m here to give you hope! MacGyver is now 9-years-old and he is an avid reader. Since January, he has read at least 15 novels. I’ve actually lost count. This does not include all of the nonfiction and picture books he reads. He begs me to go to the library. He reads in the car, he reads in restaurants and he stays up every night reading to himself in bed. It sounds cliche but MacGyver loves to read. And it’s likewise cliche for me to say but MacGyver loving to read is my proudest teaching accomplishment!

How I Turned My Struggling Reader into a Successful Avid Reader

1. Read to Your Children!

2. Model Reading is Fun!

  • Mommy and Daddy model that reading is entertaining.
  • We make reading time like movie time full of adventure and emotion.
  • Mommy and Daddy both enjoy reading and the children know we are constantly reading our own books.
  • Struggling readers hate reading because it is torturous!
  • We don’t torture the children with flashcards and worksheets.
  • We read to the children and invite them to have a go at it.

3. Always Praise Reading Attempts

  • We never, ever, never told MacGyver he was a struggling reader!
  • We never, ever, never shammed MacGyver.
  • When MacGyver bored us to death with his slow, labored reading we praised his efforts!
  • When MacGyver struggled with his reading we prompted him with reading strategies.
  • FREE printable Guided Reading Prompts
  • To this day, MacGyver has no idea that he was ever a struggling reader. And he has a very positive attitude towards reading!
  • One day while  MacGyver was still in the middle of trying to learn how to read, he was “teaching” his little sister how to read. He told me, “I think she’s going to be a GOOD reader just like me.”

4. Partner Reading

  • Struggling readers need a break!
  • How would you like to read a book in let’s say Spanish? Starting and stopping, sounding out every word? What a horrible experience.
  • Again, struggling readers hate reading because it is torturous! They feel exhausted; like they are swimming in a never ending ocean.
  • I have found that it makes an enormous difference if I read one page, then MacGyver reads one page. This keeps the flow of the book moving along nicely.
  • We have read quite a few novels together this way. I read a page, he reads a page. I read a page, he reads a page.
  • Guess what he started telling me, “I’ll keep reading. You can read later.” WOW!!!

Get a Library Card! It’s FREE!

  • We visit the library regularly.
  • My children search the bookshelves like the aisles of Toys R Us.
  • We take our time admiring the illustrations and learning new facts.
  • We check out tons of library books. They’re FREE!
  • I personally own 1000+ children’s books and we still check out stacks of library books.
  • I let each of the children pick 3 books.
  • I select a new collection each time we visit. An assortment of story books and nonfiction books.
  • Often I checkout books that highlight a specific theme.
  • My children cheer when I announce we are making a trip to the library.

A Balanced Reading Program

  • You might be asking, “So how in the heck did you actually teach him how to read?”
  • You can find links to how I teach reading in my post: 5 Components of a Balanced Reading Program
  • Be patient, stay positive, be consistent and don’t give up.

10 book giveaway Sept 2012

We’re GIVING AWAY a 10 Book Library Pack.

To enter this contest, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post.

What is your attitude towards reading? Do you like reading? Have you had a negative experience with reading? How has this effected you as a parent or teacher?  (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)

The Rules:

One entry per person, please.

No entries after 8:00 pm Central Time, Monday, September 10, 2012

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Check back to claim your prize. It might be you!

Sharing this week at:

Hip Homeschool Moms

Mama Smiles


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie September 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

We all love reading in our house. I’ve always had positive experiences with books. We go to the library more than once a week. Our goal has always been to raise kids who love reading.

briana September 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I love reading! Even my struggling readers love to listen to a book read aloud.

Brandy September 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Your story gives me hope! I am a former classroom teacher that is now homeschooling. All three of my children adore being read to and love the library the way your children do. Books are a huge part of our home. My oldest was a natural reader, learning to read at an early age. Not to mention, she devours books like most kids would candy. I assumed all my kids would be this way. However, my middle child reads above where most kids his age do, but he doesn’t love it yet like his sister. I worry that he never will. I want him to want to read because he loves it not because he has to. Getting him to read to me takes a lot of patience and encouragement. We do a lot of the things you did with your son to keep him from getting burned out. My youngest is now learning to read. He seems to enjoy reading to me more than his brother, but less than his sister. But that’s okay because he is very young still.

Liz September 4, 2012 at 7:16 pm

I’m a licensed teacher and avid reader myself as well, but am also surprised to find how different (challenging!) it can be to teach one’s own child to work past the initial trials of learning to read. I just stumbled across your blog and love it! Incidentally, we found your page through a search on adopting elephants (a topic which was featured in Ranger Rick this month). I can’t wait to get pick out our elephant with the kids tomorrow!

Tara H September 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Well, this is a post that I really needed! I love to read, but I really struggle with teaching my boys how to read. My 10 year old likes reading and is pretty good at it. My 8 year old would rather not read but he’s good at it. My 7 year old, well, he’s been more difficult than the other two so far. I really felt like I failed last year we he didn’t end the school year reading. This year we’ve basically started over and he’s doing wonderfully! I’m more relaxed and I think that helps a lot. I’m hoping that what I’m learning now will help me with my now 5 and 3 year olds!
I’m excited to read the links that you have here on the balanced reading program. Thanks for being an encouragement!

Jessica September 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I love reading! The worst experience I had with reading was when I was in third grade. I had the book Missing May, read it, and lost it the year before. I went to check it out from the school library and the librarian refused to check it out to me because it was for ‘5th grade and up.’ I was furious.

Tiffany September 5, 2012 at 7:16 am

I love reading and read every night with the children. We are working on creating a love of reading with our 10yr old. I think there has been progress because he has moved from moaning when I ask him to read to grabbing his book on his own!!!

Jeannine September 5, 2012 at 7:31 am

We just received our Ranger Rick and we can’t wait to read the article. Have fun picking out your elephant. The website is full of information about elephants.
Original Post with Adoption information: We’ve Adopted a Baby Elephant!

Carrie September 5, 2012 at 10:12 am

I too love to read! I am a preschool teacher and have three daughters, two of whom love to read and one who has struggled. I agree that you have to start early and read often – I think every room in my house has books in it. I am a book collector and make sure my enthusiasm for books is shared with my children.

However, it turns out my struggling reader had tracking issues that we did not discover until 6th grade. It was very painful for her to read because she could not move her eyes from left to right (she had go go down first). One year of vision therapy later and it is not so difficult now! She still doesn’t love to read, but in her 8th grade year, she made it through all 7 Harry Potters – yea! She’s starting another series now.

Jeannine September 5, 2012 at 11:35 am

Yeah, a success story! Wonderful to hear how she read the Harry Potter series.

rosita September 6, 2012 at 8:26 pm

We love reading here. Just going to start my teaching my 4 yr old how to read.

winn September 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm

i love reading! and i think that because my girls see me read so often, they’ve come to love it, too!

my seven year old just finished all 26 books in the encyclopedia brown series and has moved on to the ramona series. she supplements her “fun” reading with “fact” reading – i mean. she actually picks out fact books to read just because!

my four year old doesn’t read… yet. but she loves looking thru the books. and it’s amazing because she’ll recall the words from when either i or my husband or even her sister has read to her.

what a great giveaway! thanks for the chance!

Lindsay September 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I adore reading and have passed on the excitement to my biological son, but my adopted daughter, although somewhat interested, still doesn’t wrap her head around imagining things. We try to expand her little mind as often as possible through reading, and we are slowly seeing her excitement build…hoping as she’s learning to read that we will see this blossom.

Great giveaway and wonderful blog. Thank you!

ashley September 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

I love reading, always have. My attitude toward it is that it’s vitally important in learning and life in general.

Jeannine September 7, 2012 at 7:27 pm

It’s wonderful to hear from so many people who love reading!

Grace September 9, 2012 at 3:29 am

As both a parent and reading teacher I find your exuberant blog fun and relevant. A Book About Your Skeleton was a key to motivating one of my first grade students to make giant strides in reading last year. Great choice for the giveaway!

Ellie September 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

I personally have always loved reading. And I have always loved reading out loud, too (well, at least since high school, before that I think I was mostly reading to myself or being read to). When my mom was sick with cancer when I was in college, I came home on breaks and read funny books to her (The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat is a great read-aloud book for someone who can use a good laugh…) Even before I had children, I used to read out loud to my husband at bed time. (Sometimes, he enjoyed it, sometimes, he groaned, and sometimes, he was already asleep by the time I got the book open, but nevertheless, we read quite a few books together that way, and still do occasionally.)

My problem with reading is that I think I have a bit of a dependency. I suppose being a “reading addict” isn’t a bad thing, but when the work and chores pile up, and I don’t have much time to read, I find it a bit depressing. The good thing is that I love children’s books almost as much for myself as for my children. Even without children, I’d be reading the occasional great kids’ book just for the pleasure it gives me!

So far, I haven’t really tried to teach anyone to read, besides volunteering in a preschool. Reading with our children has just been for pleasure, and I hope it always will be. Your story is inspirational because, like you, I am kind of assuming my kids will turn out to love reading just like me. But who knows, it’s really too early to tell. Maybe I, too, will have a child who is a reluctant reader, and I will be coming back again and again to this post for tips and encouragement.

As for having a negative experience with reading, not really, except that growing up, I often learned words from books (that is, the meaning of the words) but didn’t always know how to correctly pronounce them. This led to the occasional embarrassment when I used a word but mispronounced it. But one day a friend of my parents praised my mispronunciation, saying, “Hey, you know what the word means, and if you know what a word means without knowing how to say it right, that’s just the sign of a true BOOKWORM”. That was the ultimate compliment for me, and when others mispronounce words, I’m quick to repeat this line to them!

Tiffeny September 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

As a Momma of 2 – Skyler 7 and Liam 5 I have always
enjoyed reading for myself and to my children nightly. As my 5 yr old
Starts Kindergarden and his reading is Just beginning my 7 yr
Old is struggling with the comprehensive part. I am researching how to help her with this. We recently started weekend library trips which the kids look forward to. Seeing Fs from my 2nd grader breaks my heart and makes me feel like a failure. I’m working on building her up and not feeling defeated. We can do this.

Robin September 10, 2012 at 8:11 am

I love reading to my children and always tell them how much I love books. I also tell my children they will learn to read and someday there life will change because they can read anything and everything they want to know.

Kristin September 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm

We love reading! I am a classroom teacher, and always try to bring in new books but can’t always afford to do so! The kiddos LOVE for me tobring in new books!!

Karyn September 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm

We LOVE reading! My kids love being read to and I love doing it… I am always reading, too.

Billie September 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I have a houseful of struggling readers! Would love to have new books!

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