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If you have a child who is bright, enthusiastic but reluctant to read it can be enormously frustrating. You’ve shared books with them since birth; you read them a story every night at bedtime; you read books in front to them so that they see reading as something both enjoyable and useful. But you have realised that you need some new strategies for your reluctant reader.
There is masses of research which shows that the more a child reads for pleasure, the better they do at school. They will have a wider vocabulary and better writing skills.
As an enthusiastic reader I hate the thought of children missing out on the joy that reading has always given me.
So what can you do if your child is perfectly capable of reading but is just not keen on sitting down with a book? Here are some tips for getting reluctant readers to read.
Many kids find big books really intimidating; hey, even I quailed at the sight of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when I first saw it!
Build up their confidence with short books – there is a reason why the World Book Day books are small, slim volumes. The books are chosen to appeal to a wide range of abilities as well as being short enough to seem do-able for a child who simply lacks confidence in their ability to read a longer book.
Encourage a reluctant reader by giving them a short book with large print that they can finish quickly, so that they can get that real sense of achievement from finishing a book.
Comics, graphic novels, even cornflake boxes are all perfectly good reading matter; just because it is not literature does not mean that it is a good reading experience for your kids.
Has you kid seen a movie that they enjoyed which was based on a book? There are lots of great kids movies based on book; The Diary of A Wimpy Kid has spawned several movies and the books are good for kids who are overwhelmed with pages of text. The book includes pictures, scribbles and doodles, and the diary format makes for bite-sized reads, perfect for a kid with a short attention span.
Many films have a novelisation of the story published to go along with them, if they are not based upon an original book. Again, these books are rarely great art but they will follow the plot of the film pretty closely, which films based on books often do not.
Some people just don’t find fiction appeals to them that much, so it may be that the way to get your reluctant reader excited about reading is with factual books. Books such as the enormously popular Horrible Histories, Horrible Science and Murderous Maths are written by experts in their fields so not only are the facts correct, they are written in an entertaining way with a mix of illustrations, cartoons and terrible jokes.
Give an animal lover a book about their favourite creature or a sports fan a book about football. From there they may be keen to move onto fiction based on their interests.
Image Credit: Kimberly Farmer
Any kid will love to read a book that makes them roar with laughter. Some of the best to try are any by David Walliams, Roald Dahl, David Baddeil and the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riorden. Kids also like a bit of naughtiness, so how about the Captain Underpants books or Aliens Love Underpants – well, anything about pants really.
They may also like to read books of jokes.
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There has recently been some research that shows that exposing kids to e-books increases the likelihood of then choosing to read.
If they are always on their phone or tablet, make it easy for them to access books by adding a reading app; there are lots available, from the Amazon Kindle app and Reading Eggs online library to these reading apps which are either free or require a monthly subscription.
You could try a bit of reverse psychology. One year my school form tutor, who was also my English teacher, mentioned how she thought that Enid Blyton was absolutely dreadful and that we should not read such rubbish. You can bet that from then onwards, every time she walked into the form room half the class would have their nose in something by Blyton – from Twins at St. Clare’s and the Naughtiest Girl In The School to the Famous Five and Secret Seven.
So, you could try telling your child that you don’t approve of a particular author – you never know, it might work!
Hopefully you will have now found some effective ways to encourage reluctant readers into picking up a book for pleasure.
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!