Kids into Readers: Free Strategies

I had the pleasure of attending an all-day Youth Services workshop in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho yesterday. One of the guest speakers was Gary Johnston, a retired 4th grade teacher from Colorado who offered many great tips on getting kids, particularly boys of the ages 5-11, to read.

Did you realize that the average eight-year-old spends only FOUR minutes reading each day? And that he spends FOUR hours watching TV each day?

Of all eight-year-olds, only 1/3 (usually girls) are fluent readers. Two-thirds (usually boys) do not like to read, and do not read. Of the 2/3 of eight-year-olds who do not read, 2/3 of them have TVs in their bedrooms! Suggestion: get rid of the bedroom TVs.

Gary went on to say that the number of minutes kids spend each day on reading is the best predictor of how well they can read. School teaches them to read, but the kids do not spend enough time reading in school to become proficient readers.

As parents, we need to make reading at home something kids do each day, and to make it fun. It's not homework, it's fun, Gary stressed. He doesn't even care if it's the kid who is reading. If the parent (for boys: hero, mentor DADDY) is reading to him, and the child is following along, that's all that's needed.

Gary had plenty of tips that I cannot wait to pass on to my own son, for his first grade boy who doesn't like to read. If you know someone who is a struggling reader, I highly recommend Gary Johnston's tips.


  1. How sad that so many children not only do not like to read, but cannot even ready proficiently! We limit TV time in our house and except for maybe 4 or 5 days I have read to my toddler every day of her life. Reading is a priority in our house.

  2. Ghastly! More TV than reading, and TVs in the bedroom. Shudder. I think it really helps for kids to see Mom and Dad sitting around reading for FUN. Show by example!


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