None of us would step out to run a marathon without training. Marathon training is based on building physical and mental stamina to complete 26.2 miles. Reading, like running, requires building stamina, but the question for parents and teachers is, “How do we build stamina?”.
The great folks at Reading Rockets have some great suggestions on building reading stamina.
Reading stamina is a child’s ability to focus and read independently for long-ish periods of time without being distracted or without distracting others.
- Vary the way the reading is done. Parents can think about this in terms of having their child “read to himself, read to someone, and listen to reading.” Some combination of the three should make up the reading time, especially for new or struggling readers.
- Choose “just right” books. If your child is at a stage of being able to read alone, help him choose books that he is able to read independently. This means he should be able to decode almost every word in the book correctly. In this situation, avoid using books that are too difficult to read alone. If your child will be reading with you, choose books that are lively and engaging.
- Set reasonable goals. Most toddlers and preschoolers find it difficult to sit for long periods of time, even with the most engaging book! When starting out, limit book time to just a few minutes and work up from there. For elementary aged readers, consider starting with 10-15 minutes of reading time, and work up from there. Add a few minutes to your reading time every week or so.
- Celebrate progress. Without getting too caught up on the number of minutes spent reading, celebrate the time that is spent reading. Share your favorite parts of books read, plan the next visit to the library, and share progress with other family members.