How to Get Kids to Love Nonfiction Little Readers

I have taught kids how to read since 1997! That is a long time. In all my time working with kids and my own children my number one goal was to get the kids to love it! I think inspiring children to have a love of reading and learning is the number one way to ensure success. The number one way. 

Kids who hate to read often hate traditional schooling. You are failing the child if you have someone who feels this strongly about not wanting to do something. So what do you do with failure? You figure out the whys and the hows of failure so you can use it to propel you forward. We can't be afraid of failing, or we will never learn how to do things better. I know this sounds pretty harsh, but if your child or student hates reading and school, then failure is inevitable. {And I don't mean for the child.}

So what can we do when we are faced with a child who hates reading? {I'm going to save hating school for a whole other post. If you want to get started on how I think we can change this, then check out my post on How the Current Education System and I Failed My Child.

First, I think we have to hook kids. We need to find text that moves them. I mean shakes them to their core. It can be literature or nonfiction. I will say that in my experience it took fiction to get the tables to turn. However, I did have plenty of kids who proved that statement wrong. They were all about sharks, Kung-fu, and all things reptile. {Ugh!} Either way, we have to grab them!

Next, we need to read it to them, play it for them, or offer it to them. Any or all of the above!! Reading to kids in different voices and inflection make the story feel more like a movie or TV show they are watching. It HELPS! Sometimes audio books can do the trick, but be careful about who is reading the book. Sometimes you will find a story so beautifully read by the actual author of the book that it moves you to tears. My very very favorite audiobook, Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonald Partridge is read by the author Mem Fox. You can find it on audiobooks.com or even on Youtube. Ms. Fox reads the book in such a unique and special tone that she brings the story to life. It makes me cry every time! You can also find audio books that are horribly written. A poorly done reading series we once were required to use has some of the worst audio books. It was like they were created as a nonexample. {Yes, I have STONG feelings about this series.} That will undoubtedly turn off a reluctant reader. So choose carefully. 

How to Get Kids to Love Nonfiction

Finally, we have to give kids opportunities. Many, many options. Choices in what they read or to which they listen. We need to provide them with variety in where we ask them to learn. Why not let them read in a fort, in a bathtub, or under their desk? Sometimes a change of scenery does help. Sometimes we even need to give them a format choice. Why not let them read it on a tablet. I know there are some people who disagree, but a text on an iPad can be customized. You can change the background lighting, the font size, the look of the font, and even highlight underline, and take notes! Those are some amazing features! {Speaking from personal experience with Dyslexia, I love that I can change the font. There are more Dyslexic friendly fonts. Not to mention increasing the size!! These old eyes appreciate that the most!)

How to Get Kids to Love Nonfiction

The most important aspect of turning a kid onto reading is finding the right books. Yes, literature usually does the trick, but what about nonfiction? What about getting kids to love informational text? Sometimes that can be a bit harder.

How to Get Kids to Love Nonfiction Little Readers

How to Get Kids to Love Nonfiction

1. Choose Interesting Topics!

Kids will more likely read something they want to learn. This is when you really need to know your reader and not just his or her reading habits. You need to understand what fuels them. What they love. What gets them up in the morning? Do they play football, soccer, or dance? Do they have a deep passion for video games? Do they love to be scared by scary information like severe weather or snakes and spiders? Once you know that, you can start searching for text that will motivate them to find out more. 

2. Provide Access for All

If a child struggles to read a text, he or she don't often want to continue. Finding books that are more suitable for younger kids can be a struggle. Often a lower level reader won't have enough information for a child to want to keep going or the vocabulary is so hard that they get stuck. This is when reading text to kids helps. 

I have been working on nonfiction readers for quite some time. I am growing my collection. The ones that my kids seemed to love the most are All About Severe Weather and Germs, Germs, Germs: The Problem With Germs. Of course, scary and gross! No wonder. 

3 Integrate Your Content Area

Finding books that relate to your science, engineering, and social studies topics is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. {That is such a weird saying! But you get my point.} When you can find a text that fits your child and teaches them the information you need them to know you have just accomplished a massive feat! 

4 Visuals Are a Must

The visuals are key when encouraging a child to love nonfiction. They can make or break the book. So be sure to look for compelling visuals. 

 

I know it can be a long road when trying to find just the right book for a child, especially when the child dislikes the task of reading. I think the most important thing to remember is to be patient and keep trying. Use your failed attempts to help you find a solution. There is one out there. The right book is right around the corner!

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Trina