Getting Reluctant Readers Loving Books
While your child may be one of the reluctant readers, remember that we were created to love a story.
This means there’s hope for your sweet child, friend!
We know reading matters because it works our brain, keeping it active and sharp.
It also helps in literally every other form of learning, so it’s a crucial part of education.
In a lot of ways, schools today aren’t set up for lifelong readers.
But that’s okay because with a few ideas I’ll share here, you’ll be able to fix that in no time.
Lead by Example
What if, as the parent, you’re not a reader?
I’d like to say that’s okay, and in some ways it is, but then again…monkey see monkey do is a real thing.
What would you like to learn more about?
What kinds of movies do you tend to enjoy?
Get to the Library
Head to the library with your child and let them see your vulnerability with the librarian.
Show your child how you’ll go about adding in reading to your life. It will go a long way, I promise.
What if you’re reading all the time and your child could care less?
First, let me say you’re on the right track. Keep it up. Openly read in the same space where they are.
Talk to them about what you’re enjoying or learning in your current read.
Reading is meant to be social, so bringing them into your world will be huge for their budding desire to read.
Read to Them
No matter their age, read aloud.
My boys were read to from the womb, but their ornery little selves would’ve rather body slammed each other most of the time.
This former Reading teacher’s heart was broken.
How couldn’t they love it like me?
Mama Took Action!
I started reading books with adventure and ones that were funny right there in the middle of their play.
They acted like they weren’t listening, but over time guess what happened?
Little bottoms scooted in close. Snuggles happened.
They started to love stories.
If you’re wondering if I felt like a lunatic reading aloud to the air at first, yes. Yes, I did.
But it was totally worth it.
Creating your child’s bedroom home library is huge.
They can set up a little bookshelf in a special space, and they are now owners of books!
This is one reason why I love doing the book trail to the tree at Christmas.
Our boys get most of their books from the library, but they have special books in their rooms and they read them over and over and over again!
Leave Books Open Where they Eat
If your kids are like mine, they’re non-stop.
Eating is the only stopping point.
So, with the suggestion from a friend, I left picture books open to the most exciting pages on the table.
It wasn’t but minutes until they were pushing the book toward me asking me to tell them what was going on in the fun pictures.
Pick Fun Books
To my chagrin, my boys could’ve cared less about Laura Ingalls Wilder.
They didn’t want to hear the stories I was excited to read to them…yet.
I had to look hard for things that interested them, but with one caveat: it had to have a good plot.
Look, no one wants to listen to a story if it doesn’t have some twists and turns. It’s just the way we’re made.
Some books that got their interest right away are still our favorites to reread today.
This book cracks me up. My kids, too. Even my husband, who prefers to read about his Ohio State Buckeye solely can get into this one. Heads up: your reluctant readers may start calling you a fuzzy little butt. You’ve been warned.
The silliness of this one gave us inside jokes about “tummy troubles,” and I never knew if, during a dinner of tacos, one kid would bite into a spicy taco and set the house ablaze.
There’s also a sequel to this one, which builds excitement for reading, a key to lifelong love of stories!
I vividly remember laughing out loud along with my seven-year-old on the very first page of this book.
That was it. He was hooked.
If your new or reluctant readers love graphic novels, take heart.
It’s a story. It’s text. I may not be the next great American novel, but they’re doing it.
They’re feeling successful.
It matters! Encourage it!
Don’t Stop Here!
This is a series, which was the best of all. Once he had the first one, we were right back at the library grabbing the next one just like it.
This gave me the opportunity to show him other graphic novels like Lunch Lady.
It wasn’t too long (maybe a year?) until those graphic novels weren’t quite enough.
He realized he’d get more meat from a deeper novel.
A smaller read aloud with pictures every few pages will be a great step up from the graphic novels.
Please don’t discredit pictures in books.
Until our children can solidify their visualization skills, books with pictures are so helpful to keep interest .
How to Use the Pictures
Use these pictures to your benefit!
Let them look over the picture. Notice things about them alongside your child. Show them you like pictures, too and add in how they’re helping you understand the story.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a great one because it’s got lots of twists and turns and your child will also be able to feel emotion for a main character.
You can talk about how the same author shows his special author’s craft throughout his books and bonus fun: they’ve got movies!
When your former reluctant readers are ready to tackle his or her own book, Priscilla Shirer writes a book series that my son couldn’t put down.
Better yet, he was pushing them on me the second he’d finish, and held me accountable big time!
“Mama, I’m half way through the second one. Are you almost done with the first?”
He shared this book series with his best buddy (who also loved them), and he was off and running.
In the End
We worked so hard for it.
A full-blown, book-loving kid.
Who still plays the heck out of Minecraft and climbs trees and splashes in creeks.
Whose math, social studies, and science skills improved because of the gradual years of gently guiding him into the love of reading.