What do you do if you have a reluctant reader?Sometimes kids just get sick of reading, don’t like it, aren’t good at it, or just prefer other things. This can make it hard as a parent. Here are some ideas to “jump start” your reluctant reader:
- Try to incorporate reading into an activity they already like. For example, set up a tent in the back yard, get some smores, and have a “camp-out” read-a-thon. Or go on a hike and take a book to read at a nice lake.
- Go to the library often. Try some of the great programs that they offer like “Girls only” book clubs. Sometimes social reading is a great way to jump start readers.
- Start your own neighborhood kids’ book club. Invite a few friends over for snacks. Let your child be in charge of the refreshments. They can talk about a book or share a book that they really liked. Or they could just come over for a read-a-thon at your house.
- Involve other forms of media. Try a new audio book or read a book that can be followed by a movie night, of the same book (i.e., Harry Potter, Ramona and Beezus, Bridge to Terabithia, Where the Wild Things Are, The Night at the Museum, Mr. Popper’s Penguins).
- Put together a library scavenger hunt. Have the kids find books with certain pictures, themes, colors, etc.
- Celebrate reading! Talk to kids about their books. Have them draw a picture of their favorite parts of a story. Find books with cliffhangers and encourage them to keep reading.
- Set an example. Show your kids how much you enjoy a good book!
How do I pick a book for my child’s reading level and interest?
- Use the five-finger rule. Have your child open up a book to any page and start reading. For each word they can’t figure out have them hold up a finger. If they get to five, the book is too hard.
- You can also have your child read part of the story and have them retell it in their own words. This will test their comprehension level.
- Encourage readers to read chapter books and picture books. Picture books are written at a high reading level than most kids/parents assume. The pictures help kids decode the message. This is an invaluable tool for readers.
- Try a Series. These books are fun and keep kids motivated to read (once they are hooked).
- Read to your child and watch for nonverbal indicators. This can help you know what they like.
- Visit the library often and pick up a range of books. Kids will show you what they like as they explore the different titles and subjects.
- Keep picture books in your car and rotate them often. All of my kids including my sixth grader love reading them. When we have long trips the kids always have something fun to read. I usually ask them to “tell me which of these books are the good ones.” This gives the kids a “job.”