We all know a reluctant reader.
Many of us have one in our family.
Yes, even I had a reluctant reader as a son.
So what can you do to help him (or her) overcome their fear or frustration of reading?
First of all before we begin, it is important to remember to check
for signs of causes that may be hindering the learning process. Is your
child having problems seeing the text? Do they need glasses? Are they
perhaps jumbling up the letters? Are they dyslexic?
Whatever the issue, remember that help from teachers is always at
hand and above all, don’t panic! All children develop and learn at their
own pace. Childhood is not a race to adulthood. It is a journey to be
savoured and enjoyed, a time when memories are made while growing and
exploring and this includes venturing into the world of books and
discovering the particular types of genres that best suit each
Below are my tips on the best strategies to help motivate the
reluctant reader to not only start turning the pages but continue into
becoming a life-long lover of reading.
1. Start by being a good role-model. It helps if
both parents enjoying reading. Some might say in fact that my husband
was not a good role-model to our sons as in nearly 30 years of marriage I
could count on one hand the amount of fiction books he has read.
However, he is always reading. The laptop or ipad is always on and he
is forever googling technical information about something of interest.
He is reading and learning all the time. I might be the one seen reading
all the fiction novels, but he is observed reading a plethora of
2. Ignore parents that brag about their children’s
amazing reading abilities. Worrying yourself that your child is not
“keeping up with the Joneses” is pointless. Every child will reach their
own potential at their own pace. By the time they all finish high
school and move on to University, things will have evened out to the
point that when they began to read confidently will not seem so
important or significant. You may even find that the bragging parent was
in fact doing the actual reading aloud all along while the child was
enjoying listening and comprehending. (Both parent and child enjoying
the shared experience anyway.)
3.With that said, remember your reluctant reader will also comprehend books at a higher level than he/she can read. This may be a reason which may have turned them off reading in the first place. Therefore find books that interest him/her and spend time reading aloud to them. The benefits are great. See my post from two weeks ago, http://sandrabennettauthor.com/2014/02/05/10-awesome-reasons-for-reading-aloud-to-your-kids-whatever-their-age/.
Introduce as many forms of reading as possible, magazines, newspapers,
internet sites, blogs (under supervision of course) whatever may be of
interest. Most of all make it fun and entertaining so that you build
confidence as well as comprehension.
4. Make the reading relevent. One of the reasons
they become reluctant is because they are bored and then refuse to read
as they can’t see the point of reading the required text. That is why it
is essential to find topics of interest. Don’t expect a ten year old
struggling reader to want to read something written for a six year old,
even if that is his reading level. Give him something that will entice
him to want to pick it up.
5. E-readers are great for reluctant readers that
prefer to play on their computers or console games. E-readers are
familair tools, so why not take advantage of them. The reader can play
with the text, change the font size, shape or colour and even look up
unknown words they discover, all in one place. No need to go diving for a
6. If they have a favourite comic book or joke book, don’t stress. Allow them to read it over and over. Repetition
is a good thing. It not only builds confidence and comprehension but
allows the reader to express themselves while enjoying a positive
experience. These books will also help with the increase in
understanding of story sequencing and layout as well as the added
benefit of being visually appealing and full of laughs.
7. It helps if there is a quiet place in the house to read. Quiet time
in a quiet corner or special place away from the distractions of other
busy family life, no computer or TV noise, time to sit and quietly
immerse themselves into the story. If this is difficult to find, then
bedtime is perhaps the best alternative, bearing in mind that children
are often very tired by the end of the day and a reluctant reader will
probably prefer you to start the reading. If you find something he is
really interested in, he may just want to take over the reading, (and
even continue long after you leave the room).
8. Create plenty of opportunities for reading and learning by writing notes
to be left and found in hidden secret places. Children get quite a
delight when they discover a secret message from mum or dad in a lunch
box, under pillows, in pockets, wherever your imagination takes you.
Write messages on the fridge by using magnetic letters. The reader may
surprise you and write a reply.
9. Play as many word games as you can think of. I
Spy, scrabble, boggle to name just a few. If you are interested in more
ideas refer to a few of my earlier blogs http://gingerbreadaliens.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/fun-things-to-do-to-get-kids-reading.html
10. Select high interest books with plenty of action
and humour. Kids want to laugh and have fun while reading. As they get
older they expect good cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter. It also
helps if the book has familair everyday situations that they can relate
to. Circumstances that they can become involved in and are able to
suggest how to solve the problem.
A fantastic short chapter book that just so happens to fit the order
perfectly is my “Gingerbread Aliens.” Filled with action, adventure and
intrigue it will keep even the most reluctanct reader laughing and
turning the pages all the way to the end. The story begins with a very
simple everyday situation that every child can relate to. Three brothers
begin fighting in their kitchen while trying to cook for the school
fete. Naturally disaster strikes, there is a huge mix up and a turn of
events that send the school and the neighbourhood into turmoil. The
story even has great cliff-hangers at the end of every chapter.
Here is one enticing sample.
“David sighed, he had enough of their nonesense. He threw the loaf
down at his feet in disgust and gave it one almighty drop kick.
It SOARED through the air longer and faster than David had ever
kicked a football before. It flew right over the top of the back timber
fence. Hit the light post near the walkway. Bounced off the brick pavers
that edged the garden……..and……..SMASHED through the window of the
school Principal’s office.”
Whenever I read this at school readings, even the most reluctant of
readers have begged me to continue on to the next chapter. I have not
met a child yet who doesn’t want to know how the school Principal is
going to react.
Gingerbread Aliens is available from both my websites. I am happy to sign any copies purchased and mailed.
It is also available as an ebook.
The second book in the Bradberrie Boys Alien Adventure Series “Alien
Shenanigans” is coming very soon. Stay tuned for futher updates on this
and more in the series.