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Many children who don’t like to read haven’t had a positive experience regarding reading. 

READING STRUGGLES

They may have been given material that was too challenging, maybe they were embarrassed by struggling, or maybe the reading material wasn’t interesting enough to be engaging. 

Whatever the reason, there are strategies you can try with your reluctant reader.

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS

Engaging reading material may not be in book form. Offer your reader some alternative reading materials.  

We are surrounded by environmental print every day and your reader may not realize they are reading, so point it out! Environmental print includes, but isn’t limited to billboards, cereal boxes, game directions, menus, words in television commercials, words in video games and recipes. The more your reader reads, the more confident they will become.  

COMIC BOOKS

Comic books and comic strips in the newspaper are other examples of alternative reading material. Both types of comics have many pictures to support the text which means your reader can look to the pictures for clues as to what the words say. Your reader could even create their own comic and read it to others. 

VIDEO GAMES

In today’s world children spend more time in front of screens than ever before so why not take advantage of that time and use it as reading practice. There are some video games which require the player to read.  Do your research and find games that are enjoyable and appropriate for your reader. 

One game, it’s actually one of my favorites, is Animal Crossing. It’s rated PEGI 3 (appropriate for children 3 years of age and up) and requires the player to read while interacting with other characters.

LETTER WRITING

Written correspondence is another form of reading (and writing!). The excitement of getting a return note from a pen-pal or family member can make reading those notes fun. My 9-year-old niece and I write back and forth through messenger for kids, which allows parents to keep an eye on the conversations. USPS mail is engaging, too. During summer vacations, I have been pen-pals with many of my students. The feedback from students and parents was always positive.

THINK “OUTSIDE THE BOOK”

In conclusion, when trying to engage your reluctant reader, you may need to think “outside of the book.” Yes, you want your reader to transition to books, but getting them to start reading anything is a huge win for both of you.


Heather Badger-Brown has been a Math and Writing Coach at The Academy since September 2020. She is an expert in Multisensory Education online. She also serves as a Creator of Kid Opportunities and Outreach.

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