Reluctant Readers: How to Motivate Reluctant Readers [13 Tips Included]
A lot of us wish our children would read more. But what happens when the very thought of picking up a book sends shivers down their back?
There are several things parents can do to help motivate their reluctant reader towards a lifelong love of reading. But first, it's important to figure out what may be the cause.
Why are some kids reluctant readers?
There are many reasons why your child might dislike reading. Maybe they haven't discovered a genre that interests them. Maybe they get restless and would rather play outside.
Often, children become reluctant readers because the books they're reading are too hard. If your child lacks confidence in reading, they're likely to avoid doing it altogether.
Types of reluctant readers
There are three main types of reluctant readers, those who can't read, those who won't read and selective readers.
- Those who can't read: These children struggle with basic reading skills and dislike reading because it's a daunting task.
- Those who won't read: These children can read fairly well however they'd much rather be running around outside or playing with friends.
- Selective readers: These children are highly selective about what they read and often not open to suggestions from adults. They need to be genuinely interested in the topic to pick up the book.
Once you've identified what kind of reluctant reader your child is, check out the following tips below to help get them excited about reading and devouring books in no time.
1. Choose topics your child is interested in
Issue: Your child finds reading boring
If your child is getting bored easily while reading, they're not likely to continue doing it. The first step in getting them involved is to switch up their reading material. Reluctant readers will be more tempted by subjects that interest them, so make sure to choose a genre that excites them.
Solution: Before you choose your child's next book, take a step back and consider their interests; what excites or intrigues them most? Choosing genres that interest your child helps them to stay motivated and eager to read.
2. Start with books that are suited to their reading level
Issue: Reading is difficult for your child
One reason your child may be reluctant to read is that they're finding their current reading material too challenging. Children can start to lose confidence when they're way out of their depth, which may lead to avoiding the subject all together.
Solution: If your child lacks confidence in their reading ability, it may be a sign that the books they are reading are too difficult. Start with books that are suited to their reading level. The Five Finger Rule is a quick and simple way to see if a book is too difficult for your child to read on their own.
3. Lead by example
Issue: Your child isn't surrounded by readers
When was the last time you picked up a book in your spare time? Children tend to copy the behaviour around them, so it's important to mimic the actions you want to see. If your child isn't used to seeing you read, this is something you can try to change.
Solution: Read more around your children. If your child doesn't see you or anybody else enjoying a good book now and then, chances are they will struggle to see the value in doing it for themselves. Let your child see you read and talk to them about the books you love.
4. Rule out any vision issues
Issue: Your child has blurry vision
It can be hard to tell exactly if your child has blurry vision, but this may be the cause of their lacklustre interest in reading.
Solution: If your child is constantly squinting and struggles to make out the letters on the page, make sure it isn't a result of any vision problems. A simple eye check can rule this out, or let you know whether your child needs glasses.
5. Try activities that pair reading with play
Issue: Your child has a hard time sitting still
Kids are active by nature, so sitting still for long periods of time may be a tough ask. Your child may be reluctant to read if they don't enjoy sitting still, but that doesn't mean you can't find activities that involve reading on‑the‑go.
Solution: If your child would rather play outside than read a book, try doing activities that pair reading with play. Some fun activities that require reading include making a new recipe, doing a scavenger hunt or creating your own greeting cards to send to friends and family. Check out this article for more ideas to try: Outdoor Literacy Games Your Kids Will Love.
6. Make reading fun
Issue: Reading has become a chore
Some reluctant readers aren't keen to pick up a book because it feels like a chore. The key is to make sure to be patient with your little reader and proceed with caution.
Solution: Try not to push your child to read, instead, try to encourage them to see reading as something to do for leisure. Read aloud with them and make it fun and interesting. Be patient if they're struggling with a word and avoid pushing them to finish a book any faster than what they're comfortable with. For more tips on how to make reading fun check out: Expert Tips on How to Make Reading Fun.
7. Opt for shorter books
Issue: Your child has a short attention span
While children are not known for having long attention spans, some are shorter than others. If your child is struggling to get through books at their reading level, you may want to change tactics.
Solution: If your child has a short attention span, opt for shorter books like joke books, comic books and nursery rhymes. If you're getting through a longer book, break their reading time into shorter intervals which gradually increase over time, or take breaks from reading to discuss what's happening in the book.
8. Encourage book sharing
Issue: Your child prefers group time over one-on-one reading
Some children thrive in group situations and may find one-one-one reading too isolating. For example, they may insist on spending time with friends or siblings rather than reading a book. This is not necessarily a bad thing, you just need to use it to your advantage.
Solution: If your child prefers being around other people, try to encourage book sharing. Host a book swap at your house and invite all of your child's friends to bring a book to share. Reading can be a shared experience by taking turns reading aloud and discussing the plot and characters.
9. Use technology to your advantage
Issue: Your child isn't interested in traditional storybooks
Perhaps your child doesn't like reading traditional paper books. That's ok, there are plenty of digital options now for reluctant readers to choose from.
Solution: Use technology to your advantage. With a wide range of children's e‑books on the market, there's no shortage of online books that offer read‑aloud features and graphics that may be the key to getting your child interested in reading. If you're looking for a wide range of children's e‑books check out the ABC Reading Eggs online library with over 2500 e‑books spanning fiction, non‑fiction, fantasy, mystery and more.
10. Take turns reading to each other
Issue: Your child won't read on their own
Your child may be reluctant to read because they don't like reading alone. They may need to read in the company of other children or read together with an adult.
Solution: If your child isn't likely to sit and read on their own, why not try taking turns reading to each other? This will make for a more interactive activity for the both of you. Get your child even more involved by asking them about what is happening in the story or what they think about a certain character. Then ask them to come up with a couple of questions for you to answer.
11. Introduce them to a new book series
Issue: Your child finds it hard to get interested in any particular genre.
For some children it can be hard to find the right kind of book that really catches their eye and gets them excited about reading.
Solution: Try a different tactic by introducing them to a popular series. Perhaps the cliff hanger at the end of one story might compel them to read the next and then before you know it they've read the whole series! For series suggestions, check out Myth Menders, Ninja Princess Detectives, Starchasers and many more inside the ABC Reading Eggs library with over 45 different book series to choose from and 2500 e‑books to browse.
12. Try audio books
Issue: Your child is easily distracted.
It can be hard to keep a child reading when they are easily distracted by what's going on outside or they see a toy they want to play with and instantly go to grab it.
Solution: Pair reading with an audio book. Turn on an audio book and have them read along with their own book. This requires much more concentration and may help to keep easily distracted readers more interested and on task.
13. Make time for reading
Issue: You haven't set aside enough time for reading.
It sounds simple enough but often times we are distracted with busy schedules full of kid's activities, homework and housework.
Solution: Set aside a specific time for reading each day. It could be special bedtime reading, reading time after homework or right after school pick‑up. Once you get into a routine your children will come to expect that they have a time set aside for reading, making it easier to get into the groove. Read alongside them or to them and make sure it's a nice quite environment they can concentrate in.
Continue to motivate your reluctant reader
We all do things we believe we can do and what we believe is worth doing. Kids are no different when it comes to reading. Motivating your child to fulfil their reading potential and encouraging them to see the value in reading are great places to start.
How Reading Eggs has motivated reluctant readers
“I just wanted to let you know how absolutely fantastic your program is. My son is 4 and was expressing anxiety and reluctance to attend school because he said the reading was “too hard”. We began him on ABC Reading Eggs and the difference has been amazing. He is now so much more confident and happy about learning. His teacher has noticed a real difference in his reading. [He] is happy to sit down every day to do his lessons. He never expresses any reluctance or unwillingness and he has learned so much. I am constantly amazed at the inventiveness of the program and the way it keeps the child constantly engaged.”
– Dr D. Joseph
“My child LOVES ABC Reading Eggs! This program has been exactly what I've been looking for. We tried two other popular reading programs and while they were fun, just didn't translate to my child becoming a reader. He's a reluctant reader, capable but frustrates easily. With Reading Eggs I have never witnessed an ounce of frustration, just watched my son having fun. And even better – I've watched him start to read in such a natural progression that is a beautiful thing to watch. Thank you, ABC Reading Eggs!”
– C. Bryant
“ABC Reading Eggs is great for my son. He is a reluctant reader and has resisted every other product we have tried. He uses this one regularly without too many complaints. It's really working for him.”