Plaza Famila

Helping the Reluctant Reader

Written by Jesse


Weak reading skills can affect a student’s performance in all subject areas at school. Reading skills and reading habits should be fostered both at school and at home. Here are some ways you can do your part.

Content choice:

Reading proficiency often relates to a child’s opinion of reading as a whole. If a child does not like to read, there is a greater chance they will struggle as a reader. Vice versa, a motivated reader will become a better reader simply because one gets better with practice. For this reason, it is important to consciously surround your young reader with materials that spark his or her interest. Keep this in mind when you read aloud to them early on, as well as when you see them start reading independently. The interests of a reader can be met by both fiction and non-fiction books as long as they are carefully selected.

Also, keep in mind that reading material which interests your child may not always be in book form. The comics, product packaging, magazine articles, advertisements, or even video game instruction manuals can all encourage the act of reading. Books, of course, are best so when the time comes to select some literature, make sure the motivation to read is still there. Let your child tell you what they would like to read. Graphic novels such as the Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Dork Diaries books are great for reluctant readers who may be intimidated by the sight of a large amount of text.

Team up:

As your child takes steps to become a better reader, you should be at their side the whole way. Although your role will become less involved over time (from reading to them, to reading with them, to letting them read on their own), there are still important roles to play at each stage. When you read aloud to them at an early age, keep them involved. Ask them questions, talk about favorite parts, allow them to make predictions, and have them give their thoughts at the end. Doing this will help your young one understand how content is drawn from books. Also, this can be a way to gauge how interested he or she is in the particular book choice. As your child starts reading, choose a book at his or her level to read to them. This way, you can have them take over from time to time. Team reading can be a great way to develop reading skills and bond with your child. When independent reading comes into play, you are not out of the game! You can stay involved by asking about the book being read or even reading the same book and having a mini book club with your child.

Be a role model:

As with pretty much everything, your actions have an effect on the actions of your kids. Set the standard by being an active reader yourself. Reading can seem like a chore if a child is told to read but never sees it in action. Budding readers need to see where reading can take them. They should see the act of reading providing enjoyment and happiness. This can lead them to personal excitement over reading. When they are excited about reading, they will read, and the more they do the better they will get. Consider having family reading time, where you and the kids can be together while each enjoying a book of choice. Take your little readers on library trips where you check out your book and they check out theirs. Children can pick up a lot, so even if you are not much of a reader, try hard not to present reading as “a task for kids” but as something that all ages can and do enjoy.




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About the author


Jesse has taught in various elementary and high school settings. He writes for Plaza Famila and also designs educational online resources. Jesse is a musician and is passionate about providing instruction in a way that sparks student interest.

  • Max Elliot Anderson

    I grew up hating to read, even though my father published over 70 books. Some were for children and I never read them growing up. So these action-adventures & mysteries might be of interest to your readers.

  • Alex

    Getting reluctant readers engaged with books is also about addressing the gap that opens up between their age/interest level and reading ability. Several publishers produce books for this sector, and I’ve written for them. I’m passionate about books and reading, and I’d love to think that my writing helps to open that door for reluctant readers. My latest release is called Shipwrecked! Murder and Mutiny in Remotest Patagonia, published as an e-book by Moriarty Press. Sometimes, it’s easier to get a tech-savvy tween to pick up an ipad or smart phone than a book, which is why I think it’s important that appropriate material is available  digitally, as well as in print.

    • Jesse

      Yes, the more ways a text is offered the better! Print, e-books, audio books etc. can all lead to an appreciation of literature!