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Blog 10.04.2021

Causes And Solutions For Reading Reluctance In Young Children

How to Encourage Reluctant Readers

Why are some young students more reluctant to learn how to read or read for pleasure than others? This is a question that often plagues parents and educators alike. However, they need to discover the answer before they can help reluctant readers feel more enthusiastic about completing assignments or voluntarily curl up with a book.

Common Reasons Children Struggle or Hesitate to Read

Some children have internalized the message that reading is not important. They rarely see their parents or other adults in their lives read for fun and simply do not understand why they need to learn how to read. Teachers need to remember that there may be a good reason parents do not often read and strive to be helpful rather than judgmental. Parents might be so busy earning a living to financially support their children that they have little time left over for reading. 

In this case, the best thing teachers can do is encourage parents to use the little free time they have each day sitting down to read a book with their child, even if it can only happen at bedtime. Parents, like all adults, sometimes forget that children learn best by copying what they see.

Learning to Read is Hard Work

Most adults have been reading fluently for so many years that they forget what learning to read was really like. Reading involves learning the sounds each letter makes, sounding out words, remembering what they have read, and comprehending what it means. All this can be exhausting for little minds and bodies that might prefer to be outside playing or interacting with a video game instead.

When learning to read becomes a struggle, some children withdraw and decide not to try anymore. Parents and educators must know how to draw children out to make reading fun for them again. One idea that often works is for the adult to act out parts in the story to help bring it to life or add an element of suspense.

Reluctant Readers May Not Have Found a Topic That Interests Them Yet

Some students learn to read easily and have no problem decoding words or figuring out the meaning behind them. They may still find reading boring because they have not discovered a genre that captures their interest.

Parents and teachers may unknowingly play into the reluctance to read by only offering children books on topics that hold no interest for them. Although people often need to read books or information they find dull, capturing a new reader’s interest is key to them developing a passion for reading that goes beyond the minimum expected of them.

For every book that children must-read for school, adults in their lives should offer them the chance to read a different book just for fun. Asking children why they chose a certain book or topic can help them become more interested in reading because it provides special bonding time with an adult.

How Can Parents and Teachers Best Encourage Reluctant Readers?

Some young students struggle with the format of books and the skills it takes to sit still and read, but that does not mean they are actively resisting trying to learn. They may just need a different approach to develop the motivation to want to learn to read for themselves. Many educators of elementary-aged students have found success with audiobooks and graphic novels.

Most young students enjoy listening to a teacher or parent tell them a story, and audiobooks act in much the same way. The biggest benefit of this format is that it teaches students important comprehension skills they will need when reading books on their own.

Research has proven that people comprehend information in nearly identical ways when listening to someone else read versus reading on their own. Audiobooks may even promote stronger visualization and recall than independent reading, both of which are important skills for young readers.

Books with a lot of text with little to break up the words can be overwhelming for young readers. Graphic novels and picture books can help in this case. These books are more appealing to some children and help to support reading comprehension by connecting words to a picture.

Taking regular trips to the bookstore or library as a family can help to instill an early love of reading. However, children absorb just as much if their grandparent, aunt, sibling, or other trusted person in their life takes them to a reading-related environment if the parents cannot fit it into their schedule.

Parents and teachers who have done everything they can to help encourage a reluctant reader should not hesitate to utilize one-on-one help if the child continues to struggle. Teachers may offer a referral to a reading specialist, or parents can hire one on their own.

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