THIS week marks the beginning of the International Reading Association’s (IRA) annual Read-A-Thon.
During the week of Feb. 13 to 18, students in grades two and below pledge to read for three hours per week while students in grades three and above pledge to read for six hours. They also solicit pledges with their official blue pledge card with the IRA latte stone logo for the time they spend reading. More than 95 percent of the funds raised during the Read-A-Thon are returned back to the students, teachers, schools and the community in the forms of book donations, prizes, author visits, teacher and student workshops, and community events.
While parents and children know they have to read or listen to someone read during Read-A-Thon week, many believe they are confined to reading only books. However, that’s not so. There are many alternative material students can read. The key is to find out what interests children already have. If your child loves swimming, provide ways for her to learn more about this sport through articles, brochures, and tip sheets. If you have a video game-obsessed child, have him read instructions, reviews, and strategy books. Here are some ways to get your children to read in ways they might not have imagined.
Many newspapers have sections geared toward children and teenagers. The articles are generally short, and either appeal directly to children or are written from a youngster’s point of view. Also, keep an eye out for articles that might pique your child's specific interests. While sections about cars, movies, travel, technology and music may be aimed at adults, children may enjoy reading them too.
Magazines for kids or teens might seem fluffy, but if they keep children reading, the benefits might make up for the lack of heavy-hitting content. Young people can often identify with the tone and subject matter of magazines, and the articles hold their attention.
Even if your children would much rather eat out than cook, cooking is a good opportunity to get children reading. Give them a cookbook and a pack of Post-Its, and let them pick out several recipes they'd like to try. You can also make the meals together as a family activity.
Comic books and graphic novels are becoming more and more popular. The illustrations and often offbeat topics keep kids interested and reading. IRA’s March YA Cafe will feature one such novel called “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick.
Are you going on a special vacation this summer? Or do you just wish you were? Get brochures for destination spots, tourist attractions and theme parks. Let your children read the brochures and get excited about an upcoming event or a potential adventure.
Rare is the child who doesn't love music. He or she may have already found the liner notes in the CDs, but encourage them to read along as they listen to songs. Also, your child can search for lyrics online and sometimes learn about the songwriter's stories behind the songs.
These can be a great option if your child is exploring a particular interest. From soccer to bedroom furniture to clothes, catalogues have concentrated information on things that interest your child.
The IRA kindly requests that everyone in the community support this worthwhile project so the International Reading Association can continue its mission to make Guam an “Island of Readers.”
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.E., MA, is a teacher with 22 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at]yahoo.com with your questions or comments.