We all 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 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.
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:
Is it too boring? 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.
Is it too difficult? If your child lacks confidence in their reading ability, 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. Read 5 Signs Your Child May be Struggling with Reading.
Is it too foreign? When was the last time you picked up a book in your spare time? 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.
Is to too blurry? If your child 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.
Is it too ‘sitty’? 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. Read 5 Hands-on Ways to Make Reading Fun.
Is it too much of a chore? 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.
Is it too long? 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.
Is it too isolating? Does your child insist on spending time with friends or siblings rather than reading a book? If they prefer 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.
Remember, people do what they believe they can do, and also what they believe is worth doing. Motivating your child to realise their reading potential and encouraging them to see the value in reading are great places to start.