How to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

Jul 11, 2019

While you’d like your son or daughter to disappear into the land of Narnia or be swept up in a Harry Potter spell while reading, reality may reveal the opposite. In fact, your child might even say, “I hate reading,” and when finally sitting down with a book, emits forlorn cries of “Am I done yet?” or “How many more pages?” every few minutes.


But where does this reluctance come from? Has your child not found the types of books to get excited about? Is there frustration because of having to sound out every word? Is your child a fluent reader who struggles to comprehend what’s been read? Understanding the root of your reader’s reluctance is the first step in trying to find the best way to help.


Explore Your Child’s Interests —  via Books!

Thanks to inter-library loans and websites like Amazon and Scholastic, there are more books than ever available. Tap into your son or daughter’s interests when searching for new options. Animals, Minecraft, Star Wars, My Little Pony – you can make reading more fun by providing your child with a high-interest topic. Connect a field trip to the aquarium with a book about sharks, or find a book about sea life before heading to Sea World.


Create a Positive Reading Atmosphere

Establish a time for quiet reading in your household as something to look forward to and enjoy! If your reluctant reader sees you reading regularly, he or she is less likely to view reading as a punishment or as something negative. Stepping away from TV time or iPad games as a family eliminates distractions and can allow your child to consider reading as an enjoyable activity.


Try Audiobooks and Read-Alouds

Allow your child to be exposed to text in different ways: have a read aloud, or listen to an audiobook. Hearing a fun, exciting story may motivate your child to seek out a book independently. After you read or listen to a story, you can gauge your student’s comprehension by asking some imagery questions. Inquiring “How did you see that happening?” or “What do you picture happening next?” can launch an entertaining discussion of the story and allow you to see what your child is getting out of it.


Eliminate the Possibility of a Reading Weakness

No matter how many fun and exciting books your child is exposed to, reading may continue to be a source of strife if he or she has a decoding weakness. Having to sound out the same word every time it appears, slow reading, and difficulty differentiating the letters and sounds within words are all signs of a reading weakness. These challenges may be tied to your child’s symbol imagery, which is the ability to create mental imagery for sounds and letters. Having symbol imagery that’s intact is essential for being able to decode new words, maintain sight words, and become an independent, fluent reader.


Learn more about reading difficulty and solutions here.


Tackle Reading Comprehension Head-On

Being a fluent reader doesn’t guarantee strong reading comprehension. If your child cannot “make a movie” in his or her mind while reading a story, comprehension may be lost. Concept imagery is the ability to create an imagined gestalt — or whole — from language. Listening to audiobooks or being read to won’t necessarily make comprehension any easier for a student who has a concept imagery weakness. Learn about the imagery-language connection for reading here.


In this video, a mother describes the transformation her daughter made in reading after instruction at Lindamood-Bell. 


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