How do I get my grandson excited about learning how to read and write?

It’s clear that you see the tremendous value in getting your grandson excited about reading and writing! A long line of research shows that children who take to reading early on are more likely to make it a pleasurable habit throughout their lives and experience later success in reading and writing, with a broader vocabulary and deeper knowledge about people and the world. That said, studies suggest that boys’ attitudes toward reading need even more bolstering as they move through elementary school. The trick is getting reluctant readers truly “hooked.”  While we know that incentive plans that reward children with pizzas or certificates have value, and can certainly motivate reluctant readers, it’s important to note that personal motivations to read are the most lasting. And studies show that engaged readers outperform older, disengaged readers, regardless of age or socioeconomic factors. An important first step is finding material he'll be motivated to read. Oftentimes, boys appreciate books that make them laugh and appeal to their sense of adventure and mischief. Find stories that focus more on the plot and action than on description. Keep in mind that boys (and girls) are often drawn to books that come in series, with characters they come to know and care about. And try to track down books with content they can use in conversation—jokes, movie reviews, statistics or fun facts about a favorite topic. 

Carolyn James, Ph.D.

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