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One of the coolest parts of being a homeschool blogger is connecting with like-minded moms across the world and talking shop. This week I met New York Times bestselling author Heidi Schulz who is also a homeschool mom to an only child. And fortunately for you, we met via Google hangout which was recorded to YouTube, so you can meet Heidi too!
Heidi Schulz’s novels are for middle grade readers:
(These books are on my Amazon list for the next time I make a purchase. I seem to always have a running list of things to buy. I am hooked on my Amazon Prime membership.)
Her daughter, just like mine, isn’t a voracious reader, but of course Heidi wants her daughter to be an enthusiastic reader.
Besides her practical advice to encourage reluctant readers, Heidi has the right perspective on the entire issue.
It’s not about reading logs, incentive programs, and pressure. It’s about reveling in books in the midst of a healthy parent child relationship.
The video is below, and I also pulled out a few key points in text.
How to Encourage a Love of Reading
Heidi said several times in the conversation that we have to remember the end goal — a love of learning. So everything we do to encourage reading needs to feed into that. You can’t force someone to enjoy something. But you can draw a picture of how attractive an activity is and then savor it yourself to model that joy.
One of Heidi’s suggestions that I most loved was simply to talk to your child about what you are reading. It’s that common advice of “let your kids see you reading” taken to the next logical step. Not only do they see you with a book in your hands, but they also hear you talking excitedly about the great story you read. You engage them in a conversation about the novel just like you would a television show or a story that happened to you.
She is a proponent of weekly library visits and letting kids choose things they are interested in and then check out as many books as they can physically carry.
Methods that Backfire When Trying to Encourage Reluctant Readers
Anything that involves pressure is going to be counterproductive for instilling a love of learning. So Heidi recommends being nonchalant when a child does express interest in a book. And don’t succumb to my common temptation: don’t make a unit study or lapbook out of every book your child likes. Just let your child enjoy the book for the sake of the story. Period.
Your goal is to encourage recreational reading. So let it be fun without any extra academics or assignments attached to it.
What to Look for When Selecting or Recommending Books
It’s best to let kids choose their own books. But strategically placing books where a child can see them is a valid method. Heidi recommends choosing books with these characteristics
- action, especially at the beginning of the book
- short chapters that give a feeling of success
- story line with a brisk pace
- lots of white space on the page
Heidi reassures us that comic books (graphic novels), magazines, books in verse (poetry), and picture books are all valid reading choices. Don’t rule out anything. However, it is okay to reserve your book budget for high quality books and leave twaddle for library checkouts.
Make Books Part of Family Traditions
Heidi’s family has a tradition of getting new pajamas and a book on Christmas Eve. Plus books are a common gift for birthdays and other special occasions.
One great tip is to start reading a new book out loud and then get purposely interrupted so that you have to set the book down. Heidi jokingly says to her daughter, “Now, don’t read ahead without me!” Of course, this playful tone is understood as an open invitation to continue reading. Often getting started in a new book is the toughest part, so helping kids over this hump makes a big difference.
If you have a chance, watch the entire video as you will enjoy getting to know Heidi and hearing her heart on the entire issue of books and reading.
Great Pinterest Boards to Follow for Reading
If you’d like a steady stream of more great reading information, I suggest you follow these five Pinterest boards.
- Family Reading Time by BookShark
- Family Book Club by My Little Poppies
- Great Books for Homeschool by CurrClick
- Reading for Homeschool by iHomeschool Network
- Struggling Readers by This Reading Mama