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Motivating Reluctant Readers

Do you have a reluctant reader at home?

Many of us wish our children would read more. But what happens when the very thought of picking up a book sends shivers down their back?

There are several things parents and teachers can do to help motivate their reluctant reader toward a lifelong love of reading; but first, it’s important to figure out what may be the cause.

Why are some kids reluctant readers?

There are many reasons why your child might dislike reading. Maybe they haven’t discovered a genre that interests them. Maybe they get restless and would rather spend time with friends.

Often, children become reluctant readers because the books they’re reading are too difficult. If your child lacks confidence in reading, they’re likely to avoid doing it altogether.

Types of reluctant readers

There are three main types of reluctant readers, those who can't read, those who won't read, and selective readers.

  • Those who can’t read: These children struggle with basic reading skills and dislike reading because it's a daunting task.
  • Those who won’t read: These children can read fairly well however they'd much rather be running around outside or playing with friends.
  • Selective readers: These children are highly selective about what they read and often not open to suggestions from adults. They need to be genuinely interested in the topic to pick up the book.

When you’ve identified what kind of reluctant reader your child is, check out the following tips below to help get them excited about reading and devouring books in no time.

1. Choose topics your child is interested in

Issue: Your child finds reading boring

If your child is getting bored easily while reading, they're not likely to continue doing it. The first step in getting them involved is to switch up their reading material. Reluctant readers will be more tempted by subjects that interest them, so make sure to choose a genre that excites them.

Solution: Before you choose your child's next book, take a step back and consider their interests; what excites or intrigues them most? Choosing genres that interest your child helps them to stay motivated and eager to read.

2. Start with books that are suited to their reading level

Issue: Reading is difficult for your child

One reason your child may be reluctant to read is that they’re finding their current reading material too challenging. Children can start to lose confidence when they’re way out of their depth, which may lead to avoiding the subject all together.

Solution: If your child lacks confidence in their reading ability, it may be a sign that the books they are reading are too difficult. Start with books that are suited to their reading level. The Five Finger Rule is a quick and simple way to see if a book is too difficult for your child to read on their own.

3. Rule out any vision issues

Issue: Your child has blurry vision

It can be hard to tell exactly if your child has blurry vision, but this may be the cause of their lacklustre interest in reading.

Solution: If your child is constantly squinting and struggles to make out the letters on the page, make sure it isn't a result of any vision problems. A simple eye check can rule this out, or let you know whether your child needs glasses.

4. Make reading fun

Issue: Reading has become a chore

Some reluctant readers aren’t keen to pick up a book because it feels like a chore. The key is to make sure to be patient with your little reader and proceed with caution.

Solution: Try not to push your child to read, instead, try to encourage them to see reading as something to do for leisure. Read aloud with them and make it fun and interesting. Be patient if they're struggling with a word and avoid pushing them to finish a book any faster than what they're comfortable with. For more tips on how to make reading fun check out:

5. Opt for shorter books

Issue: Your child has a short attention span

While children are not known for having long attention spans, some are shorter than others. If your child is struggling to get through books at their reading level, you may want to change tactics.

Solution: If your child has a short attention span, opt for shorter books like joke books, comic books, and nursery rhymes. If you're getting through a longer book, break their reading time into shorter intervals which gradually increase over time, or take breaks from reading to discuss what's happening in the book.

5. Encourage book sharing

Issue: Your child prefers group time over one-on-one reading

Some children thrive in group situations and may find reading alone too isolating. For example, they may insist on spending time with friends or siblings rather than reading a book. This is not necessarily a bad thing; you can use it to your advantage.

Solution: If your child prefers being around other people, try to encourage book sharing. Host a book swap at your house and invite all of your child’s friends to bring a book to share. Reading can be a shared experience by taking turns reading aloud and discussing the plot and characters or the content, if nonfiction.

7. Introduce them to a new book series

Issue: Your child finds it hard to get interested in any particular genre.

For some children it can be hard to find the right kind of book that really catches their eye and gets them excited about reading; or for older children, topics they must learn

Solution: Try a different tactic by introducing them to a series, specific to fit their needs. Perhaps the pictures and easy to read pages, they’ll find information that fits what they’re assigned to learn in class; then you notice it they’ve begun reading their assigned text books!


Of course it won't happen overnight, but you have to start somewhere. Try one of the series we offer in our store, either paperback or eBook. You may be surprised...