Reluctant Reader Rescue
We know. We get it. Not everyone LOVES to read.
Don’t worry, we’re not offended if you don’t even want to read this blog post. You probably have a million emails to check, soccer practices to get to, and dinners to put on the table. Yet here you are, reading this anyways because you see a potential benefit.
Kids, too, can be motivated by all sorts of things and distracted by a myriad of others. We hope this post can help you to encourage reading at home whether your child is already an avid reader or “reads” with their book upside-down and their gaze out the window.
First and foremost comes choice when encouraging reading. Not only will a book that excites a child encourage them to open it up and give it a try, but if a child isn’t interested in what they’re reading, they definitely won’t be engaged and thinking deeply about what’s being read. To promote choice, spend time with your child walking through the aisles of the library, perusing your own bookshelf, or scrolling through our webpages to find a book that rouses curiosity and piques interest.
Next, it’s important to pick a book that’s not too easy and not too challenging – the Goldilocks of books, if you will. Too easy = too boring, and too difficult = book stays shut. A good rule of thumb is the five-finger rule. Have your child try a book and keep count on their fingers of words they get “stuck” on. If it’s more than 5 per page, the book probably isn’t a good fit.
You might want to also try exploring new genres and different types of reading materials, like books, magazines, graphic novels, and online articles. For different genres, try something like historical fiction (yes, it exists for kids!), a children’s encyclopedia, or a postmodern picture book. Just like pizza, fiction and non-fiction can be ordered up in many different ways.
The context in which reading happens can also be a big factor in a child’s enjoyment of it. Try to make it a sacred, special time in a special place. For a little bit of effort and maybe a couple of dollars, you can create a magical reading nook. Nothing is better than curling up in a nice nook with a great book. It can be as simple as grabbing some old sheets and pitching a tent in a bedroom, using a flashlight to read under the covers after dark, or selecting some special floor pillows and blankets to make a cozy corner. Our advice: make the nook “open” for reading only and “closed” for all other activities, like electronics.
Reward systems never go out of style. An achievable reward system can go a long way to motivate a reluctant reader. The keyword here is achievable; kids need to believe that they are capable of reaching their goal. If the goal is to read 10 books for a reward, that goal might be too far away for a child to even bother trying. If the goal is to read 10 pages per night, that might be much more motivating. A little trial and error will help you find the sweet spot.
Because we love reading so much and hope to inspire a love of reading wherever we go, we’ve created a FREE downloadable reading BINGO! You can use this "Bonjour BINGO" as a reward system (ex: get one line, two lines, the whole card, etc.), as a way to encourage sampling different genres and media, or for a household reading contest! Print one off for every member of the family (you included)!