5 Ways to Encourage Reluctant Readers
If your child is reluctant to read, you may worry that they’ll fall behind in their studies, and maybe, they already have. There are many reasons you want your child to stay on grade level for reading, as reading impacts all the other school subjects. Besides, if you enjoy reading, it’s hard to think that your child is missing out on the imagination-opening doors that reading fiction offers or the fact-finding missions that non-fiction delivers.
But beyond your child’s ability to understand and enjoy literature, poor reading skills can impact every aspect of life—from their future job to their ability to communicate online. Every career field, from accounting to engineering to architecture, requires strong reading skills. Not to mention, we use literacy for daily life activities. Every time we use the internet, message our friends, finance a car, or sign a rental agreement, we employ reading skills.
So, how do we get our children, who aren’t yet worrying about those future reading encounters, to take an interest in reading?
We’ve put together five ways to encourage reluctant readers. Give these ideas a try, and your child might begin to give reading for fun a shot!
- Help children select books about characters they already love. If your child is reluctant to read, don’t pick up a book on a new topic just yet. Instead, look for books with characters that they already love. Characters from television, movies, and even video games often have their own books. What’s great is that popular character-based books are available for kids in a wide age range, from board books to chapter books.
Then, as children get older, you can look for novel-inspired movies. When your child knows the story ahead of time, the book can feel more approachable, especially if it’s a beloved story. Disney, for example, offers a Junior Novelization series for popular movies like Encanto and Frozen. Once you start looking for them, you’ll be surprised at how many books feature familiar faces.
- Seek out books about their special interests. From the clothes they wear to the books they read at school, many kids feel that their day-to-day choices are limited. One more assigned reading may seem like the straw that breaks the camel’s back, especially if reading is already a challenge (ever have your child’s 15-minute reading task turn into a two hour ordeal?). When it comes to leisurely reading, follow your child’s lead by helping your child select books about their favorite subjects.
Whether about nature, basketball, or cars, books exist on nearly every topic. So, take a trip to your local library or bookstore with your child. Try giving them a budget or telling them how many books to pick, and see what they find! When they get to choose their own books, they may be more excited than you’d ever imagined and feel empowered to make more reading choices.
- Play games that incorporate reading. When you’re worried about your child’s reading habits, it’s natural to encourage book after book. But this can get tiring, even for an avid reader. One way to promote reading without forcing books on your child is to provide games and other fun activities that happen to encourage reading.
Just like we sometimes sneak hidden veggies into our child’s dinner, sneaking reading into other activities can take the pressure off and make reading more palatable. Board games like these promote reading comprehension. And for the gamers out there, even video games (in reasonable time blocks, of course) can motivate your child to read because they’ll want the storyline to move along. Visit this site for an extensive list of reading-rich video games.
- Read with your child. In our busy day-to-day lives, it’s tempting to tell our child to “go read a book” while we get dinner on the table. Unfortunately, sending them off on their own may backfire if a child is struggling to read. Without an adult to help them with the parts they don’t understand, they may get frustrated and give up. Make it a habit to read with your child as often as possible. This will help you monitor their progress and offer feedback in real time. You’ll get a better idea of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, which will help you dialogue with their teacher.
After a long school day, your child will enjoy time to connect with you over a book. Take turns reading and discussing interesting storylines, and you’ll model good reading habits. Before you know it, you and your child will have great memories of winding down together with a good book at the end of the day.
- Offer rewards for reading. While we want children to tap into their intrinsic motivation, the internal pleasure that spurs continuation of a behavior like reading, sometimes extrinsic rewards can get the ball rolling. Once the habit of reading is established, they’re more likely to start enjoying it, and the rewards can fade. One of our past blogs has some good pointers on establishing reward systems.
You can offer rewards that encourage your child to read in the short term and develop a long-term love of reading. There are many excellent ideas for rewards that do both, such as a fun trip to the library, special time reading together, and light-hearted family reading competitions.
We hope you found some helpful ideas to encourage a reluctant reader to look at reading as a pleasurable, mind-stimulating activity rather than a dull “have-to” chore. If you feel your child could benefit from engaging in supplemental instruction, Best in Class Education Centers offer English and reading support. Our goal is to help children establish a lifelong love of learning. Contact us today to learn more about our education programs.