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Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  43 reviews
How parents and educators can teach kids to love reading in the digital age

Everyone agrees that reading is important, but kids today tend to lose interest in reading before adolescence. In Raising Kids Who Read, bestselling author and psychology professor Daniel T. Willingham explains this phenomenon and provides practical solutions for engendering a love of reading that

Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Jossey-Bass (first published January 20th 2015)
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Daniel Willingham offers many suggestions for engaging children with reading, but I was surprised that a book based on "research" ignored many of the thought leaders in reading research such as Richard Allington, Arthur Applebee, Judith Langer, Alfred Tatum, Stephen Krashen, Linda Gambrell, Jeffery Wilhelm, Louise Rosenblatt, Elizabeth Moje, Peter Johnston, P. David Pearson, Donald Graves (and so many others).

Willingham also fails to acknowledge (or credit) the substantial body of work from
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the subtitle explains, this book is wisely meant for both parents AND teachers -- and not just of youngsters, but of kids all the way through middle and high school. While a lot of the advice on reading is practical, it is also, per Willingham's trademark calling card, based on research. Thus, some of your cherished beliefs may be up for revision (all rewards and praise work -- they don't; all aspects of technology work against reading -- not true). In other words, nothing is cut and dried, ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Raising Kids who Read" is a good practical guide on...wait for it...raising children who read, particularly who enjoy leisure reading. I particularly liked the developmental information, which eased my mind from stressing about how to teach phonics and produce an early reader to assuring me that, well, it didn't really matter when my daughters learn to decode characters--the more valuable things a parent can do are educate them broadly and normalize a love of reading. I have to read to show my ...more
The book was published in 2005 but is still a good reminder about some of the fundamentals of reading instruction and then support at home. Even in 2005, there was plenty of acknowledgement in how the internet was changing some things but clearly not as significant as a reader in 2018 would want to see (and maybe their reason for reading the book).

It’s laid out well and flows easily and isn’t too science- based and not too social- based but somewhere in the middle.

My biggest takeaways are
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for parents, 4 for teachers. I like the author's idea that reading has value. Reading is how most broad general knowledge is gained. He gives some great advice for preschools - learning the alphabet isn't as important as learning about the world. He also suggests to parents to answer their child's questions (even the most responsive parents don't answer something like 25% of the time). Another idea for parents of preschoolers is to not just give commands, but ask a lot of questions to ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is 'nice' if you're a parent or a teacher. Willingham gives lots of advice and uses research in doing so. However: I was surprised that none of the leading and aknowledged reading-researchers such as Allington, Ehri, and others appear in this book. Furthermote: it is a lot of text to read through before you get to the point. I had expected more from this book. Having said that: there is no wrong advice and every book that helps children become litterate and that helps parents and ...more
Sam  S
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the whole, this book will be more useful as a toolkit for parents than for teachers. But, the advice laid out, while sometimes obvious, is practical to implement. I learned something about the different stages of reading, which could be interesting to an even broader audience than just parents and teachers. My favorite part of this book though is that Willingham wrote it to simply encourage children to love to read, not to promote or achieve a particular goal, like competing with other ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I enjoyed this as a brief refresher for much of what I already know and the totally different perspective of how to motivate as an educator. The teacher parts were a bit out of my realm and it was easy to skim over areas that didn't pertain to me. The overall tone of the book was a bit heavy-handed at times, but still practical. Good advice, presented in an easy-to-follow format.
Jeff Kim
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
But what matters the most in this book is one very simple idea : parents and teachers need to support their children to become good readers long before reading problems becomes visible. They need to help children want to learn to read long before they actually learn to read. They need to make children realize that reading is not just work, but fun and rewarding.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the first half solidly and skimmed the second half as it was more relevant to older kids. It was based heavily around the timeline of the US compulsory school system. So I took what I could from it and left the rest. A book I enjoyed more on a related topic was The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gives suggestions by age of what parents and teachers can do to help move literacy along for kids.
Ann Dague
Nothing new or Earth shattering here.
Not even great quotes to use for work. Oh, well.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
...and I'm not even a parent, but I'm trying some of these older kid strategies around home and with friends and family.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
It had some good ideas despite the fact that it was dry and more academic than I expected.
Lois Letchford
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Great strategies to engage readers.
Arlene S
Mixed reviews, it's a maybe. Really liked one of his previous titles "Why Students Don't Like School", but maybe not enough in this one?
Informative, smart, and yet simple. A great, great book!
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book #16 Read in 2017
Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do by Daniel T. Willingham, PhD

This is geared mostly towards getting preschool and elementary students excited about reading and really use a team approach between school and home to make it successful. Strategies are given to fit in time for reading, to make children excited about reading and how to incorporate reading into life. There is a chapter geared towards middle and high school students which is nice and helpful.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading motivation typically drops steadily from first grade through 8th grade. Your average 8th grader doesn't think reading is fun. Willingham thinks it is partly because kids start out getting a choice of what to read, but then they end up with particular text assigned to them, becomes more like work.

"question for parents is how to ensure a sturdy curiosity throughout childhood. The answer is showing that you value curiosity yourself by honoring it in your child and modeling it in your daily
So, you want your kid to read? Great. Do you read? Also, great. You're way ahead of the curve and probably don't need this book. Daniel T. Willingham's book tries to take the science of reading and boil it down into a handy guide for parents and teachers who are helping kids want to learn to read. This is not a book about teaching reading, but about trying to create reading habits. Unfortunately, the children who most need help with this are the ones who have parents who either don't read or are ...more
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very accessible book to help teachers and parents raise kids who love to read. I thought I was fairly well-informed in this area, but I still learned a lot while reading this. I was aware of the importance of learning phonics and decoding words, but Willingham also stresses the importance of general knowledge. Without a broad base of general knowledge, even the best decoders can be stumped by what the words actually mean. This means that it's important to expose kids to a wide range of ...more
While I desperately hope that I never run into an issue with motivating my children to read, this book was a great look at why they don't and ways to help encourage them to read more. The book covers concepts and ideas for all ages - from the early ages of parents reading to their children, to high school. The author acknowledges that each age group will have different struggles with different ways to approach them.

Many of the ideas presented were great! I think I may have used one or two in the
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I guess I was looking for revolutionary here, and what I got was mostly me nodding my head because the author had better put into words ideas that I had floating in my head already. I would have given it more stars if I had come away with more concrete ideas about how to keep reading at the top of the list for my kids as they get older.

Re: screen time (and why I feel so strongly about limiting it):

1. "Kids need to know that they can depend on themselves - not a screen, not a parent - for
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book totally changed my approach to teaching my kids to read. I have been focused on the mechanics, and a result I have been diminishing my child's love for and motivation to read. I will now focus on building content knowledge and a love for reading. I want my children to love reading as much as I do. This book gives excellent background knowledge into reading research without boring the reader. It offers helpful ideas for parents and teachers at all grade levels. I want to reread this ...more
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't help but think that the author is preaching to the choir, given the adults who will be inclined to read this book.

That said, it's comprised of accessible, common-sense, data-and-anecdote-backed approaches to helping children at all different stages to enjoy reading. And that's the main thrust of this book: reading is useful for learning and studying, but to raise fluent, consistent readers, reading needs to be fun.
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A how-to guide written by an academic, Willingham writes an easy-skim book about engaging younger kids in reading. Filled with diagrams and end-of-chapter summaries, this book is intended for the busy parent looking for some research-validated reading practices.

While I don't think any of Willingham's advice is particularly revolutionary, I appreciate how it's condensed into an easily accessible volume with extensive suggestions for further reading and works cited sections.
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Research-based work that speaks to obstacles and hindrances to children's desire to read. Willingham offers tools and guidance for parents as well as what to expect developmentally as their kids mature in their reading capabilities. I especially liked the emphasis on encouraging delight in reading along with the importance in building our children's knowledge base, which Willingham argues begins well before a child's ability to read for themselves.
This book was aimed more at parents than teachers (although it did dutifully mention things that teachers can do in each chapter, I felt that parents, not educators, were the primary audience). Most of the advice seemed commonsense to me (possibly because I grew up this way), but there were still some good tips and suggestions, especially for motivating reluctant readers.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a parent, I felt like this book was really helpful, interesting, and fun to read. It does a great job of explaining what is going on in school and how you can supplement that at home without being overwhelming or alarmist.

I'm not sure how helpful this book would actually be for teachers. But I think it's great for parents.
Margaret Mary
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good and filled with practical ways to help children of all ages become people who enjoy reading. There were a few glitches with my library e-book, but they were not deal breakers.

This book is definitely worth re-reading at different stages in your child's reading development.
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Daniel Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive ...more
“The consequence of long-term experience with digital technologies is not an inability to sustain attention. It’s impatience with boredom.” 0 likes
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