Suggestions for Your Reluctant Reader

Suggestions for Your Reluctant Reader

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by: Samuel Lefalher White


Reading isn’t always fun when you’re a kid. Most reading materials that American children receive before they reach high school age fall into the category of required school reading.

Textbooks, summer book reports, introductory research articles, etc. On the one hand, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this; we’re lucky to have any books for our children to learn from. But it also tends to impact kids in a heavily associative, and unfortunately often negative way: reading equals homework. And homework— largely because it is homework and it’s completion is expected or demanded of us— is not fun.

So how do we break this trend? Or perhaps more importantly, how do we keep our children from developing such a negative association with reading in the first place? The question isn’t “How do we make reading fun?” but “How do we keep it from becoming tedious?”

One answer: Bring kids to books, not the other way around. Creating choices for kids is an important part of child raising. It allows them to develop independence and self-actualization. This principle applies just as effectively to reading, a diverse and ubiquitous activity. Letting kids find and read what they want will make them better readers and that’s really what every parent wants. If you handpick or micromanage your child’s reading material (or get offended if they don’t immediately take to the books you bring home for them) then you are inadvertently cultivating their negative reading associations. But this can be easily avoided if you encourage your children to read whatever makes them happy (age appropriate, of course).

Another answer: Lead by example. Whether we like it or not, parents and children impact upon each other in unquestionable ways. We all know (and some of us fear) that we’ll grow up to be like our parents (with a myriad of potential variants and extents). Our children, similarly, will grow up to resemble us. So, why not take advantage of this elemental, evolutionary truth and set a good example. If it’s important for you that your child learns to enjoy reading then you should demonstrate that you enjoy it too.

This may sound like a tall order. How do I make time for something leisurely like reading my own book when there are more important things to worry about? School, work, meals, social obligations, visits to the dentist— of course these things usually take precedent. But everyone needs a little time to themselves. If you spend this time reading it will make a huge impression on your child.

Finally, if your child just isn’t showing interest in reading, don’t give up! If a kid isn’t responding to her school reading material, or to the books that you’ve brought home for her, don’t be afraid to branch out! Diversify your reading portfolio, so to speak. If a toddler doesn’t respond well to picture books, try reading to him instead. If she doesn’t take to the young adult mystery, give her a graphic novel. If he doesn’t seem to like reading the Hardy Boys, try Harry Potter. If they aren’t interested in music biographies, then maybe they’ll like these art books. The point is to never give up. There’s a book out there for every kid, and once you find the right one, the flood gates will be opened.


About the Author:

Sam is a content creator, short story writer and poem person living in New York City. He loves bicycles, postcards, languages, and other people’s pets. He dislikes standing in line for brunch.


Works Cited:

Crawford, Philip. “A Novel Approach: Using Graphic Novels to Attract Reluctant Readers.” Library Media Connection, February 2004. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
Joyce, Amy. “Inspiring the Reluctant Reader.” The Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.

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