10 Mar

Do you have a reluctant reader in your household?  Honestly, many parents wish their children would read more, but what happens when the idea of reading a good book becomes a chore?  Fortunately, there are many things we can do to increase the love of reading. Yet, it is important to understand what it means to be a reluctant reader before it is possible to support and encourage your child. 

One reason children can become disinterested in reading is simply because they choose books that are too difficult.  However, it's also possible they are missing some foundational reading skills that hinder their ability to read fluently. Another reason could be that your child is very active and would rather be running barefoot through the grass instead of sitting down and reading a good book. Or maybe your young reader just hasn't found a genre or author they are interested in yet.  It's also a possibility there is a learning difficulty such as Dyslexia or a processing deficit, which is hindering their ability to read--even if they want to.

Quite frankly, It could be any combination of things, but let's look more in-depth at the types of reluctant readers:  There are those who can't, those who won't and those who are selective readers. 

CAN'T:  These learners struggle with reading because they often lack fundamental skills, so they find reading difficult and frustrating.  

WON'T:  These children can read, but they would rather be building, creating, doing art projects or running around outside. So, the thought of sitting down with a book seems unbearable to them. Even though they might find they enjoy reading, if they just took some time to be still iwith a good book.

SELECTIVE: These children are also able to read, but they need to be interested in the topic or genre before they will decide to pick up a book.  They are often not satisfied with suggestions from others about what they "should" read and prefer to choose books on their own. 

The good news is that once you have identified what type of reader your child is, it is possible to help them become more interested in reading. 

 If your child is not reading because they can't, understanding what foundational skills they need, will help you teach them and build reading strengths. Some examples of early reading skills are rhyming, phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, and fluency practice.

For those with struggling readers at home, it is imperative to understand your child's current reading abilities. If you are not sure how to figure this out, you can have a reading evaluation done in order to determine strengths, deficits and their correct book level for success with reading.

If your child won't read because they would rather be doing something active, find ways to involve movement and play into reading.  One good way is to utilize Reader's Theater where the stories can be acted out. Or, find books on what they would rather be doing, such as Lego stories or books about art. Also, use shorter stories or only read a few pages at a time. Then, take a 5-10 min wiggle break before returning back to the book. Make special bookmarks and place them in the book every few pages (depending on book length). When you reach a bookmark, take a break. Once your child gets hooked on a book, the wiggle breaks will become fewer and far between. 

If your child is selective, make sure you take time to figure out what interests they have. If you can find topics and stories related to their passions, they will be more excited to pick up a book. For example: If your child is interested in tennis, find books about tennis or stories where the characters play tennis. Also, make sure to provide a range of books in a variety of genres, levels, and visual appeal, so they feel like they are choosing on their own instead of being told what to read. 

Fun ways to help your child become more interested in reading. 

  • Act stories out:  Dress up like the characters, make simple props, or recreate the story using art supplies
  • Plan fun activities to do after reading that are based on the theme of the book such as art projects, character studies, book shares, cooking prajects, plays, dressing up, drawing, etc. 
  • Read the book aloud together. Take turns reading pages and discussing what is happening in the story
  • Help your child make a personal connection to the book by finding things they can relate to in the story, or choosing stories relevant to their life
  • Opt for shorter books so they seem easy, which will boost reading fluency and confidence.  **Just make sure not to make them too easy or your child could get bored and lose interest
  • Find a book club or social reading group, so your child can read in a community instead of all alone; Book discussions between peers can inspire even more reading
  • Use technology to support reading:  Have the books read aloud to your chld so they can "read" along.  Utilize websites that promote reading skills, such as Starfall or PBS Kids Read  
  • Reading Buddies:  If you aren't able to find a group of readers, have your child pick out a reading buddy (usually a stuffed animal, doll, or even the family pet). Have them read stories to their buddy
  • Make a Reading Fort: Place a sheet over a little table or over two chairs and have your child climb inside to read. You can even provide a flashlight and other fun props to inspire fun with reading.
  • Get a library card: and let them choose books to check out right off the shelf so they can find books they truly want to read
  • Choose books on their proper reading level. You can use the 5 Finger Rule as a quick way to figure out if a book is too hard or too easy

Don't forget to rule out any vision or hearing problems by making sure you keep up to date with vision and hearing screenings.  Use a professional medical provider for a thorough exam instead of depending on a school-based test. 

It is also important to know if there are any learning disabilities in your family. Oftentimes, these can be hereditary, so it is important to pay attention to. Then, you can learn specific ways to help your child adapt and overcome their struggles or get them the necessary resources for success. 

Most importantly, if after trying the above suggestions, you find that your child is still resistant to reading, you can always hire a Reading Specialist to inspire your child into a love of reading and give your child the additional literacy support they need. 

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