Tips to Hook Reluctant Readers
by Cindy Hudson
The ability to read well contributes to a child’s overall success in school. But what if your child says, “I hate reading” or “Reading is boring?” Try these tips to change his mind.
Look beyond books. Kids can read all kinds of things to learn new words. This includes labels on items in the grocery store; ingredients in their favorite cereal; magazines written just for their age group or rules for how to play games.
Let them listen. When kids listen to an audio book or tune in to their favorite songs or go to story time at the library, they are tied in to a story, which actively engages them in learning and may pique their interest in reading on their own.
Use technology. Have you ever read a book you liked so much you wanted to know more about the author? If you find a book your child likes, see if the author has a website. Many children’s authors include fun facts about their books online.
Start your child on a series. After the first book in a series, your child will devour the sequels one by one. Series popular with reluctant early readers include Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon, The Diary of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, and Dork Diaries by Rachel Rene Russell. Middle readers may appreciate books by Rick Riordan, who wrote his Percy Jackson series to appeal to his dyslexic son.
Try nonfiction. Does she love dogs and horses? Does he want to know more about sharks and snakes? Some kids love learning facts, and they’ll turn page after page to find out more about animals or machines.
Try another genre. Just as you may enjoy certain types of books more than others, it’s likely that your child does, too. Children’s authors write in all kinds of genres that may appeal to your reluctant reader including: science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction and contemporary fiction.
Make them laugh. Funny poems for kids, which are usually short and end with a punch line, are especially good at keeping the pages turning. Often kids are laughing so hard they don’t even think about the fact that they are reading. Find a collection by an author like Jack Prelutsky or Kenn Nesbitt and sit with your child and read a few poems out loud.
Go short. Thick books can intimidate children who don’t think of themselves as good readers. Look for books with less than 200 pages or large type that makes it easy for them to feel they are making progress.
Look for graphics. You may be inclined to dismiss graphic novels, which use pictures and words to tell a story, as less than a “real book.” But with their vivid images, unconventional typefaces, and word bubbles, graphic novels are often the ideal books to draw in reluctant readers.
Partner with the library. Children’s librarians are great at finding just the right book to put into the hands of all kinds of readers. Another plus? You can go to the library and come back with a stack of books without paying a penny.