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The bottom line: Have fun with reading and your child will be motivated to read! You can do this by responding to his attention span, interests, and skill level. Many parents (and grandparents) make the mistake of giving books to children that are far too difficult for them to read independently, much less in a 15-minute read-aloud session. Pay more attention to your child's attention span than to the age or grade recommendation on the back of the book. Some children love fairy tales; others love books with trucks and trains. Some young readers want stories about real children and others prefer reading about animals that act like real children. Expose your children to a variety of genres of literature, but when you find one that creates interest and excitement, capitalize on it. Visit the public library and check out the books your child loves. Read them over and over. Visit your local bookstore and let your child choose a book on his own. Finally, make books come alive as you read them aloud. Use funny voices and dramatic gestures. If your child doesn't respond to questioning about what you have read, back off and try a different subject or kind of book next time.
Elaine K. McEwan-Adkins, Ed.D., has been a teacher, school librarian, principal, and assistant superintendent for instruction in the suburbs of Chicago.