Dadmissions: Read It Or Eat It

My 8 year old loves to read. Love. Love. Love. She buys a book and reads it in the car, in the bathroom, in the bed, until she has read it cover to cover. She reads so much, and we borrow so many library books, that mom and dad have racked up hundreds of dollars in fines when we forget to return all the books we borrow. My 5 year old, not so much. We KNOW she knows how to read even though she is still learning. She’s just really lazy about it. She still wants us to read to her. She doesn’t want to read herself. How do you get a kid to read when they’re being lazy about it. How do you FORCE them to become better readers without making it feel like work.

One day we were walking around the supermarket and it clicked. Pigs Feet. Yep. Pigs Feet. Sorry, but they look disgusting. They’re all in a jar and gelatinous and looking gross. If you like to eat them, I apologize. For me… They just look gross. But it was those Pigs Feet which led to a moment of brilliance with the kids. “Read It, or Eat It” was born. Yep, the rules are pretty simple. You read the jar, or we’ll threaten you with having to eat the contents. Our 5 year old knew the jar looked gross… But what was inside. She sounded out the words… Pigggs…. F…eeee…T. “Ohhhh Grosss!!!!”. And the girls both busted out laughing. She read the jar and had escaped the consequences. We tried it with sardines, and clams in tomato juice, and anything else that the kids might find disgusting. Yesterday we were in the store and walked by the butcher section and saw the perfect sign for a good game of “Read It, or Eat It”. There in the butcher case was a sign that said “Smoked Pork Butt”. I have the humor level of a little kid. I don’t care what type of meat it is. They had me at Butt. The kids laughed and laughed and sounded it out. They escaped the food fate of eating Butt.

So maybe we’ve stumbled onto something. It’s like Fear Factor meets vocabulary tests. The next time you go to the grocery store with your lazy reader, go down the aisles with the nastiest concoctions… The next time maybe we’ll try Blood Pudding or Tongue or Fish Heads. If you actually like those foods, you have my condolences, but you can pick others. The fear is what makes it fun. That, and the moment when they’ve sounded out the word and had that EUREKA moment of disgusting recognition. “Read It, or Eat It” a Dadmissions original.

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About dadmissions

author of Dadmissions. surrounded by a wife and two girls... and a dog named Cupcake
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10 Responses to Dadmissions: Read It Or Eat It

  1. Our six year old won’t need this game, she is much like your eight year old.I can hardly wait until this becomes appropriate for our three year old though!

  2. I’ve used many strategies with reluctant readers, but this take the cake.

  3. Kathryn says:

    Excellent idea!! I was much like your 8yo when I was a kid. I read anything in front of me – but even though I LOVED to read, this would have been a great game even for the avid young reader!

  4. Jenny says:

    Yea my 9 yr old can read but doesn’t like to. He’s more interested in what he can build next with his legos.

  5. I have one of each too. My son blossomed late, and now he reads Harry Potter novels and other fiction, but what really got him reading was non fiction. He got interested in BMX and we took books out on bmx bikes.

    He also gravitated toward graphic novels. Try comic books with reluctant readers.

    The most important thing, though, is not to expect your child to read JUST FOR THE SAKE OF READING- you’ve got to capture their interest and have them read something on a subject they want to know more about- you got that perfectly with this game. The grossness of the pigs’ feet peaked her curiosity and she wanted to know what was in the jar.

    Way to go, Dad, and good luck.

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