As a former teacher and English Lead, I’m often asked about ways to encourage reluctant readers. Whilst I don’t claim to be an expert, I thought I would include some tips and research that I have come across over the years.
Be a Role Model
One of the first things that I would say is that it is good if children see you read! So, why not make it an activity that you do together. Whether you are reading your own book, or even better reading with them! Children always love individual attention.
Make sure that you always praise their effort. Also, avoid comparing them to your other children/ their friends, who love reading. That isn’t going to change their opinion! If anything, it’ll make them even more reluctant to read.
Your own language is also important. Talk to them about books you have read and loved. Not in a forced way but just slip it casually into conversation! I would avoid using the term reluctant readers around them too. I am only using it here, so that everyone knows what I am talking about!
Reluctant Readers: Encourage Reading for Pleasure
I can’t stress enough the importance of reading for pleasure. If children are reading something that they are enjoying, don’t stop them! I have always wanted to encourage my pupils to challenge themselves. But with reluctant readers, you need to let them read what they want! They need to have that ownership, to choose their own book and decide what they want to read. I really believe that children just need to find the right book. But if they are being forced to read a certain book, they are unlikely to fall in love with it.
Alternatives to reading a physical book
Now, this is going to sound a bit controversial… But I think that sometimes trying audiobooks can be a good way forward. Sometimes with Kindle you can also spend a little more and then you can follow the story with the words on the page. I am a huge fan of Audible, (opinions entirely my own) and they are some amazing adaptations. But they are also some that aren’t so good, so make sure to listen to a sample first. The last thing you want is to put them off because someone has a slightly annoying voice.
Activities with Reluctant Readers
There are some times (depending on the child) when you might be able to include something that they love. For example, if they are a great artist, it could be drawing a picture about something that happened in the story. It could be getting other children involved and making a little play or something else.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all when it comes to Reading for Pleasure. However, there are some great websites with resources and research about Reading for Pleasure that might be useful.
Which of these should I try with my Reluctant Readers?
Ultimately, you know your child best. But I would say that the most important things are to be a role model, take care with how you talk about books and reading and encourage any enthusiasm for reading at all.