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Reading & Language

What to Do When Your Child Hates Reading

hates readingWould your child rather empty the dishwasher or fold laundry instead of reading a book? Do you have to beg your child to sit down and read—for school or for pleasure? When you see other kids with their noses in books, do you wonder why you never see your own children doing the same? It’s hard to know how to react when your child hates reading, and even harder to figure out how to motivate children to read. Try these simple, but meaningful steps to help move your reluctant reader toward a book-filled future:

  • Zero in on the child’s interests. Before you do anything, take a step back and examine what interests, excites or intrigues your child. Knowing what interests him can help you pinpoint what types of texts he may enjoy reading.
  • Start small. Just because your child likes to ride horses doesn’t mean he needs to start by reading The A-Z History of Horseback Riding; that may be intimidating—especially for a reluctant reader. Instead, consider watching a horse race with your child. Talk about the jockeys, the scores, the owners and the trainers. The next day, read the box scores in the newspaper or watch a movie about horses, like Seabiscuit. Then, closely examine the box scores or find a short nonfiction article about a related topic, like the Triple Crown or famous jockeys like Red Pollard or George Woolf. An interactive, reliable, and safe resource online, such as American Experience: Seabiscuit, can also be an engaging and interesting bridge toward books for reluctant readers.

    If the topic of interest doesn’t lend itself to watching a related program or movie, start small by finding a magazine or graphic novel at the library that relates to the subject. Reading doesn’t need to begin with a chapter book; many other texts and various genres can be worthwhile for these readers.

  • Practice shared reading. Shared reading or reading as a collective experience could entail taking turns reading pages, sections or chapters, or you and your child silently reading the same book. Shared reading can vary depending on your child’s age and needs.

    Shared reading is an often-overlooked and underappreciated technique for engaging reluctant readers. Most kids really want to spend time with their parents, but once children reach seven or eight years old, many parents don’t view reading together as an option; they think that’s reserved for preschool or early elementary school days.

    For the ideal shared reading experience, choose texts that are rich, engaging and sure to lead to discussion. Part of the “sharing” in shared reading involves talking about the book. Perhaps several of your child’s friends and their parents can start a book club where texts read through shared reading are discussed in a welcoming environment. If book groups are not an option, find a reliable, child-safe website where your child can post a review of that book or encourage him or her to start a book review journal.

  • Reluctant readers are often struggling readers, so creating safe, comfortable environments where fluent reading is modeled and where children are set up for success is key. Though there is definitely not an easy answer, with a little focus and direction, you can help give your child the reading boost he needs. It’s not magic, but every little step helps.

    More ways to encourage your reluctant reader:

  • 6 Ways to Encourage Your Son to Read
  • Books Boys Want to Read
  • Empowering Books for Girls
    • cutemonster

      Don’t rule out comic books.  They are a fun ,visually engaging way to encourage kids to read.

    • Abigail Miklos

      My 6 year old LOVES reading a book and then watching the movie.  There’s a surprising number of these connections at all levels.  He recently loved Jumanji.

    • Deborah

      Thanks for your insightful tips!! For those children you mention who are reluctant because they struggle, I love Child1st Publications’ materials–all hands-on with an emphasis on pictures to engage young ones and help make that learning stick!

    • Pingback: Children love a good mystery and this love can make reading fun. | Maureen Grenier

    • Janna

      If your child hates reading, the first thing to do is to take him to a developmental optometrist. They check so much more than just how well each eye can see an eye chart 20 feet away. There are many vision skills needed for reading, including the ability of the eyes to track together as a team, converge in the right place, and change focus from far to near easily. Around 25% of the population can not do these things. If your child is in that percentage, he may never learn to love reading unless his vision processing difficulties are treated.

    • Corinda

      My 13-year-old daughter loves stories. She is an avid audiobook lover, and she can listen for hours at a time. I read aloud to her as well. We have discovered that her struggle with reading is actually a problem with phonemic awareness. With some intensive work using LIPS and Seeing Stars Reading program from, we are seeing some progress. My hope is that she’ll be able to transfer her love for stories to a love for reading.

    • ThatFunReadinTeacher

      You are doing an amazing job here. Shared reading and the comfortable environment can not be stressed enough. Humor and fun make the time fly effortlessly (for the child) too.

    • Marinda

      One word – Anime. My daughter never wanted to read but she loved
      watching animated movies and TV series. I sneakily got her hooked on
      (Japanese) anime at age 6 using subtitled anime and reading the
      subscripts to her. After a while she was reading along, then reading by
      herself, then nagging me to buy the manga (comic books) because the
      anime episodes weren’t being released fast enough. She’s 11 now and
      reading everything she can get her hands on. A word of caution though –
      they may start reading “normal” books and loving them, but the anime and
      manga addiction never goes away!

    • Finance Assignment

      Oh… Its not a big problem You can take the help of on-line studies. its very interesting and easy to do. And I think children will like to do their homework and Assignment.

      University Finance Assignment

    • Natalie Sharp

      I’d just hand them a Terry Pratchett book and be done with it.

      • discworldgirl

        Im 37 and still love Terry Prathcett!

    • Mark Cheverton

      I solved this by writing a book using the thing that my son loves the most…Minecraft. I wrote “Invasion of the Overworld” and he gobbled it down in a few days (180 pages). I then published it, and hear from parents all over the country that this Minecraft novel is getting their kids to love reading again…maybe we should be using the thing that is pulling our kids away from the book and draw them back in…As Michael Corleone said “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” That’s what we need to do with reading, and that’s what I did with my book.


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