Episode 36: Helping Kids Take Control of their Reading with Dr. William Stixrud

Episode 36: Helping Kids Take Control of their Reading with Dr. William Stixrud

This week we are joined by Dr. William Stixrud, neuropsychologist, and co-author of the widely known and regarded book, The Self-Driven Child. We talk with Dr. William Stixrud about becoming and helping your child become a self-driven reader.

In this episode we talk about:

1. What is motivation in relation to the issues Dr. Stixrud addresses in The Self-Driven Child.

2.. The connection between some things we have researched and read about in Scholastic’s Kid and Family Reading Report, especially the “Decline by Nine” with the principles of child self-motivation.

“I love you too much to fight with you about reading.”

3. Some words of encouragement for those who are skeptical of handing over more control of their reading and academic habits to their children.

“Making peace with the fact that you really can’t force a kid to do something is really liberating as a parent.”

“I want to support kids in every way to become a good reader, but I also want to pay attention to what we know about the brain. If at the end of the day, at night when a kid is tired and done with school, the idea that making them read is going to make them better, it just doesn’t make any brain sense at all.” 

4. How we can help kids who are struggling with reading.

“What I recommend is that they…be allowed to listen. We know that the same brain systems activate if you are listening to a story or if you are reading it yourself- the same brain systems having to do with comprehension.”

5. How we can prioritize our relationship with a child when there are struggles or friction.

6. How the difference in boys’ and girls’ physiology and development can play a role in their reading development and how important it can be to bear this in mind. 

7. Some thoughts on rewards and incentives and how we can use them to our and our kids’ advantage.

“It’s not trying to bribe them to do stuff we want to do, it’s…helping them beat their own goals.”

We are so grateful to Dr. Stixrud for taking the time to talk with us! More information about him, his work and what we chatted about can be found in the following places:

Resources we mention in Helping Kids Take Control of their Reading


@simplyonpurpose with Ralphie Jacobs


Simply on Purpose

The Stixrud Group

Scholastic’s Kid and Family Reading Report


The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson

What Do You Say? by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson

(coming Fall 2021)

Grit by Angela Duckworth

You may also be interested in:

Fighting the Decline by Nine with Lauren Tarshis

Read with a Teen with Kai Gomeau

You may have missed our last episode with Kai Gomeau

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