How My Son Moved Up Two Reading Levels Thanks to eBooks
My seven year old is a reluctant reader. It breaks my heart since his dad and I love reading. We both read most nights, read to him nightly since he was a baby and have always encouraged reading. Yet, he doesn’t enjoy reading, or at least didn’t enjoy reading.
I bought all the Star Wars and Super Hero books assuming that books on topics he enjoyed would spark his love of reading. I don’t care what he reads, so long as he’s reading. I think part of his problem is that he is a perfectionist (like his mama), so he doesn’t like to do things that aren’t easy. Of course, everyone learning to read struggles, but that reasoning isn’t enough to encourage him to read more.
This year, his school started an award program for students who reached a specific academic achievement. The second grade requirement is to reach the end of year reading level (M). His two best friends received medals the first month of the program. They are both advanced readers. My son happens to be great at math, but there is no medal for math achievement.
I thought seeing his friends receive reading achievement medals would spark my son’s interest in reading, but instead, he said, “That’s OK. Everyone’s good at different things. I’m really good at karate and have a blue belt. They have reading medals.” Not quite the reaction I was hoping for.
Every month, he watched other classmates get the medal. I encouraged him to read more with me but it really felt like work. He wasn’t enjoying reading and I was beginning to feel like he saw it as a punishment. The thing is, he wasn’t behind at reading, it just wasn’t super easy. He probably would have hit the end of year standard by the end of the year, but seeing his friends get there early made him think that he wasn’t a good reader.
How eBooks Made My Reluctant Reader Excited to Read
My son earned the reading medal in February. He literally jumped three reading levels from October to February. So, what changed? I finally abandoned my old-fashioned anti-screen philosophy on eBooks for kids. I never let my son read on the tablet even though I exclusively read eBooks (makes no sense, right?).
My reasoning was that I wanted him to have the experience of holding a book. I wanted him to value books like I do and I really hate screen time for kids, even though they do get screen time. The thing is, he only sees me read eBooks (I read a ton!). He also gets to read on an iPad at school during reading time. His teacher uses Raz-Kids in the classroom and he enjoys reading and earning points on the app.
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My husband is more tech-friendly than I am so one weekend when I was out with my friends, he loaded the Epic! reading app on my iPad. At first, I was pretty annoyed since I don’t want my kids in front of a screen, even if it is to read an eBook. I actually never used it for the first two months because I didn’t know that we pay a monthly fee ($4.99 per month). I don’t normally pay for apps so I figured we better try it out so I can decide if we need to cancel our subscription.
My son doesn’t do much reading during the week because homework takes around 45 minutes and he has karate two nights a week and chess one night a week. I offered up my iPad to read an eBook on Epic! on a Saturday afternoon. At first, my son was annoyed. I told him he either had to read on my iPad for 20 minutes or read one of several books I pulled out for 20 minutes. He opted for Epic! since it was a novelty. That Saturday afternoon, he continued reading after the timer went off. He even requested extra time to listen to the audio books.
I figured it was a novelty, but when I offered an eBook on Epic! on Sunday he jumped on it again and again, read past the timer. The same thing happened the following weekend. He now asks if he can read an eBook on my iPad.
My little reluctant reader is finally enjoying reading. He likes reading eBooks and since he is reading more, his reading has improved. He met the end of year standard four months early, which is awesome, but not as awesome as the fact that he now likes reading!
My husband and I usually read in bed before we fall asleep. On weekends, he now crawls into our bed and reads with us. He isn’t only reading eBooks, he’s reading all kinds of books now that reading isn’t such a struggle. I really wish I had let go of my self-imposed view on real books only for the kids.
I now don’t mind handing over the iPad for reading and once he’s read a book himself, he picks out audiobooks to listen to. We still read to him and have him read to us plenty, but the Epic! app is another tool to keep him reading about subjects that interest him.
Do you do eBooks with your kids?