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How to motivate reluctant readers

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

There are different reasons why a child may not want to read:

1. They haven’t found books that suit their interests

2. They can read but prefer to be active and not sit still long enough to read

3. They struggle with reading and therefore find it a daunting task

Here are some tips that may help a reluctant reader:

1. Choose books that contain topics that interest your child. It doesn’t have to be a story – it can be a comic, a non-fiction book, a manual on bike maintenance, a book on the child’s favourite sport or celebrity – anything that relates to the interest of the child.

2. If your child finds their current books too difficult, go back to easier texts. This doesn’t mean you select ‘baby’ books, but books appropriate to the child’s age, but with simpler or less text. Use the illustrations to tell the story – or make it up as you go along – anything to reduce the stress of performing for the child and making it an enjoyable experience.

3. Read in front of your child – lead by example. Share things you find in a book or magazine with your child – a funny incident, story or poem – or a useful tip - show him/her how useful and enjoyable reading can be.

4. Have the child’s vision checked – to rule out any medical problems.

5. Read books aloud to your child and encourage the child to join in small sections of the book – such as one character in the story – or captions. Make the reading fun, rather than a chore.

6. For restless children, create activities that involve reading without sitting still such as cooking and following a recipe or a scavenger hunt following written clues, or how to repair a puncture on a bike.

7. Use on-line stories that are animated – to create a more visual and audible experience.

8. Try audio books.

9. Set aside a specific time each day for reading to create a routine. It doesn’t need to be long – just 10 minutes a day is sufficient. Make sure it’s a quiet, comfortable place.

10. Try not to show your anxiety about their reading progress. Make it as fun as you can and relax more – it usually resolves itself in time.

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