Reluctant Readers

Pointers for Parents are regular SHORT inspirations to bring hope and encouragement to parents. I hope to build a bridge between parents and teachers as it pertains to the education of children and how we can work together for the betterment of our kids.

IMG_9705I hear over and over again parents (and teachers too) who are frustrated with reluctant readers. I define a reluctant reader as a child who will do ANYTHING to avoid reading. In school it looks like this…a trip to the bathroom, the nurse, the pencil sharpener, sitting where they cannot be seen, unpacking the backpack as slowly as a sloth, organizing the desk or disorganizing it, playing with all manner of distractible items, talking to other students, etc.  At home, it is an outright battle with tantrums and meltdowns at the mere suggestion of reading.  Similar to homework wars, reluctant reading battles are not a pretty sight and they leave both parents and students exhausted.  Here are a few pointers on how to handle the fight.

  • Recognize that not everyone loves to read. This one was hard for me to grasp because I am the opposite of a reluctant reader.  Yet, the truth is each of us is made differently.  That said, NOT reading does not bode well for future success, so once you have accepted that every child may not be an AVID reader, you have to find a way to help them to at least learn that reading is an important skill.
  • To that end, one key in getting a reluctant reader engaged is book choice. I have had more than one student who, once they found books they liked, turned their reading habits around. Find books about their favorite topics…horses, snakes, football, motorcycles, princesses. If they like the topic they are more likely to want to read.
  • Read with them. Sounds simple, but it’s not really, because it requires we give up our biggest commodity…time.  Sitting down for 30 minutes or more is harder than you would think, especially if you have more than one child.  However, if reading doesn’t motivate them, one on one time with you might do the trick.
  • Alternate pages. You read one, they read one.  This is good for a couple of reasons… 1. Togetherness. As stated above.  Modeling.  If they see and hear you read, they are more likely to want to do it too.
  • Be sneaky. If they insist there are “no books I like” in the library, use other means.  Like magazines, or comic books, or newspapers, or how to books or cookbooks.  These are sneaky ways because they do not recognize they are actually reading when you use these types of materials. Creating a DIY craft or making a batch of cookies doesn’t seem like work, it seems like fun.  You can help, just make sure they are the ones actually doing the reading.

Try these things and remember, they are watching you. Reading is one of those things that can be caught as much as it can be taught.  If you demonstrate a love of reading by reading yourself it is more likely that they will look forward to doing it too.

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