Encouraging Reluctant Readers

Learning to read can be such an exciting time in a child’s life. Literature can open a whole new world to a child as they explore new places, characters, and scenarios. Unfortunately, not all kids enjoy reading, whether it is because they have a lack of interest, are having difficulty reading, or have a negative association with reading. Regardless of the reason, here are some tips, activities, and advice to encourage your  reluctant readers to dive into reading.

  • Have plenty of books around for your child to choose from. Create a reading area in your child’s room or carve out a nook in a room where there is comfy seating and ample light. Go crazy and get a headlight that your child can wear to read at night just to make it more fun.
  • Encourage reading outside of books. For example, get your child a subscription to a magazine that arrives monthly. Not only do kids love getting mail but having a subscription means that it can be on any topic they are interested in like sports, science, dolls, nature, or outer-space.
  • Attend reading hours at local libraries, bookstores or coffee shops. Take it even further by attending plays, musicals, and puppet theater that can inspire your child to explore more literature.
  • Encourage ANY reading. Even if you can’t stand graphic novels, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, have whatever reading books your child seems to enjoy available. Any reading is good reading. Connect reading with your child’s passion. For example, if your child loves dinosaurs, find as many dinosaur books as you can, including picture books and books filled with facts and statistics. It may not be your passion but it is your child’s.
  • Read together. Many parents step out of the reading picture when their child transitions to chapter books. Stay in the picture by cuddling up and sharing a book. Take turns reading and use funny voices if the book is humorous. Doing any reading together helps your child associate something positive with books – you!
  • Think outside of the box to get your child reading more. Create a written scavenger hunt with easy-to-read clues. Write messages to your child nightly in invisible ink and ask him/her to write back by morning. Put on a play. Follow the instructions in a cookbook to make their favorite foods. Play board games that require some reading. Collect trading cards with the names of characters such as baseball players, Pokémon, or Star Wars. There are a million ways to sneak reading into some seriously fun activities.
  • Introduce characters whom your child can relate to and start them on a series. For example, if your child loves Greek or Roman characters, start them on the Percy Jackson series with characters who stay with the child through all the books. You may need to help get your child into harder series but you can kick it off by reading the first few chapters to your child.
  • Be positive. If your child is struggling remind them that hard work will pay off. Praise him/her when they sound words out well and help out when they are struggling. Work with your child’s teacher to keep things positive and moving in the right direction.