How to Help Reluctant Readers Read

Reading is one of the most important things that children can do. Through reading, students gain a better vocabulary, spelling and writing skills develop, and reading comprehension improves. It does not matter what grade or reading level your child is at, setting time aside for reading is the best thing you can do to support them in becoming lifelong readers. 

Most children start learning how to read around the age of 6 or 7. Up until that point students are learning letters, phonics, and reading skills. In grades kindergarten through second grade, students are learning how to read. By the time they reach third grade, most children are reading independently and able to find books that interest them. 

There are many children who upon learning how to read, fall in love with it and will read everything and anything. However, every year in our classes, we encounter children who are reluctant readers. These children would rather do anything than read. They might be struggling with fluency or comprehension and therefore they believe that they cannot do it themselves. They might be distracted by other factors such as electronics, friends, or other activities. Or they simply might not have found their niche; what they love to read yet. 

Whatever the reason, there are a few things you can do as a parent to help reluctant readers become engaged readers. 

1) Start a Parent Child Book Club at home

Choose an engaging chapter book and read it aloud with your child. Take turns reading paragraphs or pages. By doing this, your child practices their own fluency and they are able to hear your pronunciation and enunciation of words. You can also ask questions as you read to help them with reading comprehension. These can be simple like, “What just happened in the story? What did the character mean?” Or more complex inferencing questions such as “What do you think will happen next? How did the character feel?” Spending time reading with your child will not only help your child become excited about reading, but it is a great way to spend quality time together.

2) Listen to Audio Books

Audio Books are a wonderful way to hook children into reading. Children love listening to stories, and by listening to books in the car or at home they can find an author, genre, or series they like. They can then find more books they are interested in reading that are similar to what they enjoyed listening to. Audible has many resources for kids. Their parent company Amazon, is also easy to navigate to find audio books. All You Can Books has many free audio books that work on different platforms. Scholastic Parent has many other audio book resources for audio books. 

3) Kindles

We have seen many children become discouraged by books simply by the size of the spine. They see a large book, and they immediately think that they cannot read that book because it is too big. They will not even consider reading it based on the size of it. That is what makes a Kindle an amazing tool. This basic Kindle is perfect for kids who are afraid of reading larger books, because they cannot see how big, or long, a book is. The Kindle also has other features that help readers such as text to voice, dictionary for unknown words, the ability to change the font size, parental controls, and a way to track how long children are reading. We love our own kindles, and think it is a great tool for children. 

4) Go to Libraries 

Libraries are amazing and free places to go with your child and explore. They can check out books to try out and if they don’t like them, you can return them and check more out. Libraries often have times for story times or activities designed to engage children, and we say take advantage of them. Talk to the librarians, who have a wealth of knowledge on books for children. They might have suggested books for age or grade groups that could help you out.

5) Find a Genre, Series, or Author

We believe that if a child is a reluctant reader, they simply haven’t found what they enjoy to read yet. Helping them find a genre, series of books, or author they love is paramount. Once they find what they enjoy to read, they will not want to put their books down.

6) Model Reading

If you have read our past posts, you know the importance of modeling. Children will learn more from what you do than what you preach. So, set time aside to read. Show them that reading is a fun and leisurely activity. When they read, take out your own book and read next to them. By showing them that reading is a big part of your life, they are more likely to read themselves.

Diverse Books

Last week we offered suggestions for summer reading for children of different ages. This week we wanted to continue our book talk by focusing on diverse and inclusive books for your child. As we wrote last week, summer break offers a nice time to explore and read books with children. 

Diverse books are important for children of all ages. “Multicultural literature serves as a powerful tool in enabling students to gain a better understanding of both their own culture and the cultures of others.” (The importance of multicultural literature

In our classrooms, we learn about and celebrate a variety of cultures, and we often find that our students are incredibly curious and so happy to learn about cultures from all over the world. 

Representation matters. This is especially true for children. When they see themselves in the books that they read, they understand that they matter too. When we see people like ourselves in the media, including in fiction, we get a glimpse of who we might become, and we feel validated. We can gain role models and inspiration through literature (Why Children’s Books that Teach Diversity are More Important than Ever). Reading more diverse books is a great way to open the world up for our children. 

“Multicultural literature can help students develop global awareness by introducing them to current cultural issues” (The importance of multicultural literature). Reading books with our children about things that are happening in the world with appropriate content  is good for them. Adults often think that children cannot handle or understand what is happening in our world, but from what we have seen with our students, they can and their thoughts on these matters are usually incredibly insightful.

In recent years, as more diverse books have been published, we have seen a shift in our classrooms toward more inclusivity and equity among our students. The more we read, talk about, and expose our children to inclusive and diverse books, the more this amazing and wonderful trend will continue to grow. 

Below are some recommendations of inclusive and diverse books for children:

What are some of your favorite books that relate to inclusivity and equity?