Why It Works
“Words, in my humble opinion, are the most inexhaustible source of
magic we have.” – Albus Dumbledore
How do you get kids to want to read at home when they never see a book in the house?
Is it possible to break through the challenging barriers so many families face when it comes to building reading and literacy skills?
Educators provide foundational knowledge and instruction and work diligently to hone and improve their effectiveness ever year.
But no matter how hard they work, educators can’t do it all on their own.
So, how do we help make the difference?
The Quick Answer
How does Kids Read Now get kids to read at home?
We zero in on the child’s curiosity and interests and turn that curiosity into a desire to have more, more stories about dragons, sports, or about kids like themselves, and we don’t stop there.
In fact, that’s just the beginning.
How we do this is what makes our program work where others have failed.
The Descriptive Answer
Our approach doesn’t try to change how teachers teach.
Or interfere in how parents manage their busy family lives.
We start with the child.
Kids Read Now Methodology
But getting kids to read outside of the classroom… that’s the level we have unlocked.
While we don’t pull rabbits out of hats, we do get books that kids want to read into their hands, and in their homes, even if they’re homeless, even if they live in two homes. (yes, we’ve overcome those barriers as well.)
But we’re not Amazon. We do so much more than just deliver books.
We strive to ignite a desire to read and keep reading.
Getting kids to want to read is a complex recipe. We’ve honed our approach over the last decade to get the balance right.
So what are the ingredients?
The Power of Choice
Studies show children are 3 times as likely to read books they choose.
You’ve already seen this in your classroom. Choice boosts attention and interest! When students are presented with the opportunity to make their own decisions, to choose stories or non-fiction topics they’re interested in, then we are off to a good start.
Because, here’s the thing, when children get to exercise choice, they’ve effectively cast their vote. They’ve now mentally claimed each book as their own!
My son loved that he got to choose his books. There was a huge selection of high interest, high quality books. He was excited to read every time he received a new one in the mail.
3rd Grade Parent
This is why Kids Read Now empowers students, with a trusted adult’s guidance, to pick the 6 to 8 books they most desire from our catalog which we aptly named “Wish List” (we offer over 150 book titles whose book covers make book selection super fun).
Choosing a book isn’t a random act. We make it easy for teachers to guide each student to make book choices at an appropriate reading level. This way, the reading experience is fun, not frustrating, yet it’s challenging enough to build toward proficiency.
We also use picture and color coding to help students easily find books that express WHO they are, HOW they see the world, and what interests THEY wish to explore.
It’s a wonderful thing to see students get excited when choosing their books.
When we run Family Reading Kick-off Events, where students receive their first book, it feels a little ceremonial. It kicks off a process that makes books feel significant, where they can lose themselves in new worlds, have adventures alongside heroes and villains, and experience life through others’ eyes.
The Power of Ownership
Too many at-risk students have little they can call their own.
Too many children grow up in households full of screens but no books.
Too many kids never experience the joy of reading along with Mom, or hearing the spine of a new book crack as they excitedly open to chapter one, or huddle under the bedcovers with a flashlight because they just can’t put their book down.
When children enrolled in the Kids Read Now program see the books they’ve chosen are mailed to them, in their name, to their house, at no cost to their family, it starts to build a sense of ownership.
And when they understand that these books are theirs to keep forever, an elevated feeling of self-worth blossoms that feeds their motivation to value (and read!) their books.
The Power of Anticipation
Desire, choice, and ownership are key ingredients made more powerful with the addition of anticipation.
Waiting elevates perceived value. We all need something to look forward to and a healthy sense of anticipation helps to motivate children to follow-through and actually read.
When kids run to the mailbox and see their next Kids Read Now book inside… the excitement they feel as they tear open the package and smell that new book smell… each little element builds their desire to claim and consume that book. What adventures await!
Mailing books out every 7 to 10 days also helps to build good reading habits because, as you know, consistent practice is critical to make new habits stick.
The scheduled mailed books and ease of reporting them could not be any more convenient. It kept my child engaged, excited for the next delivery and motivated to check off another book to reach her goal… and they were free! Amazing!
Lee County, Florida
Connections and Comprehension
When students first open their books, they and their parents will see a Discovery Sheet with four reading comprehension activities specific to each book, guiding the student (and parent) to discover connections between the book and other stories (text-to-text), or compare the book with their own life (text-to-self), or compare or contrast the book with the world (text-to-world). These content connections are key components of the science of reading.
When students extend their reading outside the confines of the book, they begin to comprehend the meaning of the words and ideas in the text.
Right about now you may be thinking – “Aha, I’ve found the flaw in your method! How do you expect kids are going to be able to read your Discovery Sheets if they can’t yet read the book?”
You’d be surprised at how willing parents and guardians are to sit down with their dear ones and ask them the Discovery Questions. We not only incentivize this behavior with the reporting of the books, we also make it extremely simple to do. In fact, parents don’t have to read the book to ask the questions, and ESL parents can easily access Discovery Questions in their native language via text, mobile app, or webpage—removing that barrier as well.
Parents receive friendly automated reminders from Kids Read Now, prompting them to check on their child’s reading progress, ask at least one Discovery Sheet question, and report the book as complete, so their child is eligible for reading prizes.
Meeting parents where they are, making it simple and easy for them to ask just one question about a book, often ends up being a refreshing change of pace for Mom and Dad. They get to see and appreciate how much their kids have read and what they’ve learned. And that pays dividends to their child as well.
This inter-familial discussion is important to maintain a good routine and establish reading habits. It also helps parents buy into the process because adults need structure too!
To successfully establish a habit of reading, students have to believe they can read the books they pick up, and as they read them, they need to feel a sense of accomplishment (and just a little challenged).
Kids feel empowered by choosing their own books.
Hale Area Schools, Michigan
What would it look like if your below-level students consistently read 6 to 8 more books every semester and over the summer? It would be a game-changer — for them and for you.
Give your students the reading boost they need outside of school time.