Encouraging Your Reluctant Reader

Guest Post

Do you have a reluctant reader at home? You are not alone!

There are two basic types of reluctant readers:

1. Kids who know how to read but would rather not. These kids have their reasons:

  • They’ve never read a book they found interesting.
  • To them, reading equals school and school, for them, is not a fun place.
  • Reading is a sitting down activity and moving around is more fun.

2. Kids who struggle with reading. These kids often have difficulties (one or more) with:

  • Vocabulary development
  • Decoding skills
  • Reading comprehension
  • Processing information
  • Memory
  • Attention

Each of these reasons requires explaining. I’ve written about them on my blog, but for now, let me give you some ideas for encouraging your reluctant reader.

As you no doubt know, reluctant readers often resist our encouragement to read more. I think the most successful encouragement is based on attracting our kids to reading, rather that promoting reading. Here are some tips you may not have tried yet.

Read alouds
Reading aloud with your child is my number one tip for increasing interest in books. Reading aloud, for as long as your child allows it, has lots of benefits:

  • gives your child the opportunity to experience the books he wishes he could but can’t yet
  • shows that you value reading
  • conditions her to associate reading with pleasure

Offer a wide range of reading materials

  • fiction
  • informational (perfect for tapping into your child’s passions)
  • graphic novels
  • picture books (not just for little kids!)
  • magazines
  • comic books
  • creates background knowledge
  • builds vocabulary

Read the Books Your Child Reads
There are lots of wonderful kids’ books out there. Reading a book your child is reading opens doors and gives you something to talk about. Ask him for recommendations. Also, consider reading books your child is reading for class.

Encourage (bribe?) your child to read to younger kids
Reading to younger kids (and pets) offers lots of practice with easier books and starts to build confidence.

Audio Books
I’m a big fan of audio books. As with read alouds, they allow kids to experience books they may not have the skills yet to read on their own. They are perfect for family trips.

Book series
Kids often enjoy reading more about a character they like. Even if the reading level becomes more difficult, the motivation often remains. Motivation is good!

Special interest books
Give your child books about his passions. His background knowledge will make a somewhat challenging text not so challenging, because he already has a clue as to what it’s about. Don’t worry if your child gets stuck on a topic. Reading is reading.

Poetry and Joke books
There are some pretty entertaining poetry and joke books out there. Consider checking some out from the library and taking turns sharing poems that appeal to you and jokes that crack you up.

Go to the library
Let your child choose whatever books she wants – even if you think they are too easy or too hard. And then, when you get home, allow her to choose whether or not she reads them! Libraries are all about choices.

In the library, consider finding a shelf that looks good to you, sitting down, and pulling books off the shelf to look at. This keeps you out of your child’s face and models that books interest you.

If none of these ideas help, consider this:
Forget the reading. Yes, forget it, at least for now. Find out your child’s passions. Passions automatically entice us to want to know more. Passion first …then reading.

About Gail Terp
Gail is a retired elementary teacher. She writes kids’ books and is passionate about connecting kids to books they love. Her blog is Best Blog for Kids Who Hate to Read. She posts 3 days a week:
Monday – Kids’ book recommendations
Wednesday – Parent information
Friday – Fun stuff: jokes, websites, games

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