Monday, August 9, 2010

A Guest Post: Reaching Reluctant Readers

Reaching Reluctant Readers
by Deanna Gouzie
Children's Librarian
McArthurPublicLibrary, Biddeford, ME

 I encounter many parents who are concerned that their child is not interested in reading. Through many conversations with kids and parents I have discovered a few reasons why. Some kids prefer to experience life directly rather than through reading   about someone else’s experiences. Other kids find it hard to sit still long enough to read for any length of time. And think about the competition! For many kids, books seem like inadequate entertainment when compared with video games, the Internet, television and other extra curricular activities. Sometimes well meaning adults place persistent stress on the child to read constantly which can be counterproductive. We want our kids to be better readers so we make them read. They are struggling with reading so they do not want to read. Reading becomes a battleground and is not associated with pleasure but viewed as a chore. Whatever the reason, the fact remains; some kids prefer not to read. So what can we do about it?

Give Them Freedom of Choice- Whether it is a cereal box, a comic, a magazine or a novel…it is all reading. Let them read their favorite series books too. It might not be great literature, but their predictable themes and familiar characters will instill confidence and help your child prepare for more substantial reading down the road.
Play to Their Passion- Whether its trucks, horses or Sponge Bob your child has had a fascination with something and likely there is a book about it. Find it. If they are interested in it, they will read it or at least make the connection that there is something worthwhile and interesting inside of a book.
Try Audio Books- No, it is not cheating. Your child may not be reading the words, but an audio book is a great way to expose students to books that would otherwise be beyond their reading ability. It will also challenge their vocabulary and comprehension skills as well as model wonderful reading aloud. Try pairing a print book with an audio book so your child can follow along as they listen.

Make a Connection-I believe that many kids who do not read simply have not met the right book yet. When you understand the message of the story, use imagination while reading and think critically about the content, then you have made a connection with the book. Making these connections is what makes us love them and what makes us love to read. Once you read a book and have this type of experience, you are naturally going to crave more. When you crave more, you read more, when you read more you become more skilled at the practice. Unfortunately there is no one magic book which is going to hook every kid; however, we can help our kids find the right one. Respect your child’s likes and dislikes and be supportive of their choices. As your child samples new reading material they will become more discriminating in their own reading choice and development.

I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Deanna, for allowing me to post her article here at The Book Maven's Haven.  She has shared tips that are not only important for parents to remember but for teachers to remember as well.  There is no greater 'high' out there if you are literacy teacher, than when a 'reluctant' reader finds the right book and is turned on to reading!  For that to happen it is critical to remember the importance of allowing TIME to read, ACCESS to interesting books, and CHOICE in what students read!


  1. Great list! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I do really agree about finding the right book for the right child to ignite their love of learning ... not necessarily so easy! Get your child's teacher, school librarian, town librarian, child's friends (peer recommendations), and child's tutor to help make suggestions. Also, set up a kid book club to encourage reading such that reading = fun! My kids equate book club to 1) getting a new book, 2) eating a snack, and 3) doing a fun activity. They love all of that.

  3. Pragmatic Mom,
    Thanks so much for the addtional suggestions! Blessing the books is very powerful!