Some children are classed by their parents as reluctant readers. We are not talking here about children who have a learning difficulty but those children who can read but just don’t seem to want to throw themselves into it.
It is really important to get over this issue because children who don’t will be held back. Reading is essential for vocabulary development and without it children are unlikely to make the progress they need to.
How to help reluctant readers
We’d suggest that there are lots of reasons why children are reluctant readers, there’s no common reason or cure but think about the following:
- Some children don’t like fiction but would like non-fiction. This is a common issue. If children need to read non-fiction to get them into reading, then there’s absolutely no problem with that.
- Some children aren’t enthused about the topic of the books they are reading. Talk to them about it, make some suggestions, let them choose a book or two, go to a library where choosing doesn’t have a financial price tag attached. It really doesn’t matter what children read to some degree. A child who reads something every day for half an hour will do much better than a child who doesn’t read much at all.
- Some children have unfortunately become so smitten by electronic media and the internet that it damages their concentration skills. They like to click on different topics, they like constant action. The solitude of reading is something they find increasingly difficult to grasp and they lack the concentration skills required. This is unfortunately all too common. We fear that it will be very difficult to get children reading in this instance unless screen exposure is limited.
- Children need to work at reading to get fluent enough to enjoy doing it by themselves. This is always a hump every child needs to get over and all go through it. For some though the hump seems bigger than for others and they don’t get going with their reading as quickly as others do. Our advice is just stick with it. Read every day, choose topics your child has an active interest in, do lots of paired reading. Their reading fluency will improve and gradually they will start to read by themselves.
Remember that while some children seem to ‘click’ with reading from an early age, others do struggle a little more. Don’t worry if you are in this category, it is quite normal and with a little focus is a hurdle you can get over quickly.
While you are working at getting over the hurdle and helping your child develop into a fluent reader you can also try audio books (which will expose them to some new vocabulary), television programmes they might not normally watch (the news as an example), you can play games like Boggle or Scrabble (depending on their age) and you can make sure you have lots of meals together where they will get exposed to words they might not otherwise come across. Screen time is obviously a big issue especially as children get older, or where they have older siblings. All we can say is that in our experience, for some children, screen time really does inhibit their performance, and unfortunately for some families this gets away from them and they find it incredibly difficult to put right once it has gone too far.