How to engage reluctant readers: in the classroom and at home (Part 1 of 2)

At-Home Supplemental Ideas

As the holiday season looms closer and I am making my gift lists for families and friends, I think about books. Yet, let’s be honest…I am always thinking about books. I am an avid reader and I love to encourage literacy, so guess what my friends and families might be getting for the holidays? Yep, books or something that can inspire them or help to become better readers! However, not everyone on my list is a fan of books, so I’m considering my gift options for these folks as well. You might say that these friends are what is known as reluctant readers.

A reluctant reader is anyone who doesn’t show interest in reading. There is a wide range of reluctant readers, from kids who need to be coaxed into cracking open a book, to those who wouldn’t even think about touching a text. Almost akin to a picky eater, reluctant readers have negative views or experiences with reading, and teachers and families at times need to play detective to figure out the root of the child’s issue. Here are some useful tips for families and teachers to help any reluctant reader:



A child’s reading experience should be individualized. There is no one book that fits or appeals to every child. Seek out stories and books that appeal to a child’s personal interests. Youth need to “see” themselves in what they read and if they cannot relate to the characters and situations in a book, they will have difficulty getting and staying engaged in the story and even struggle with comprehension skills. So, just like two sisters are not the same (just ask mine), no two readers are the same either. Have books that reflect different lives, interests, personalities, and struggles, and children will find those books more engaging.


Personal Picks:

Book choice is a strong motivation for any reader young or old. Let them choose. In a library, in a bookstore, etc. But don’t be afraid to let them choose books that seem too easy or too hard, or books that don’t seem to be on an educational or best list. High interest books are rarely classics, but rather could be comics, series, action packed and fast paced. They could be non-fiction books with tons of visually stimulating pictures and tiny texts of amazing facts. Don’t be afraid to push the limits either, because some reluctant readers lose interest because they are not challenged (yes, high level readers can be reluctant readers). Be there to answer questions about the book, especially if they want to read something they might not be ready for thematically.

Look for Part 2 next week!

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