Motivating a Reluctant Reader

Motivating a student who does not care for reading or who does not enjoy reading can be a tremendous source of tension in a homeschooling family.  As parents and teachers, we find ourselves frustrated because we want to help our child, but we may not know where to start.  The tips below were featured on Calvert’s blog in September 2010 and continue to be an excellent starting point for encouraging your reluctant reader.   As always, if you need to extra help, you can always call Calvert’s outstanding education counselors at 855-232-7702. 

As a child who did not learn to read easily, I sympathize with children who find reading a struggle. While some children pick up reading without difficulty, many children have to really work at it. Often these children complain that the story is too long or too hard. Since one of the goals in teaching children to read is to instill a love of reading, this is an attitude that we want to try to change. reluctant

One technique I have found that works well is for you to share the reading of a story with your child. Have your child read every other page, while you read the rest. To make sure that your child is following along with you when it is your turn to read, make some obvious, and perhaps even silly, mistakes for your child to catch. Your child will love catching your mistakes and will also feel relief that they do not have the responsibility of reading the entire story. You can add to this experience by creating unique voices for the characters in the story that both you and your child can use.

Books on CD’s are another wonderful tool that can be used to help create a love of reading, while bolstering reading skills. Allow your child to follow along in their own book as they listen to the CD. They will benefit not only from seeing the words on the page read, but also from hearing the fluency and expression that the reader uses. After a child has listened to a story a few times, you can also use the CD to help improve reading fluency by having your child read along with the story.

Sharing children’s poetry with your child is also a wonderful way to encourage the love of reading while increasing reading skills. Many children love listening to, and reading poetry. The figurative language that poetry frequently employs helps develop a child’s imagination as well as their vocabulary. Choosing poems that are fun and humorous also adds to the enjoyment of the experience. Your child may also wish to illustrate, or even memorize a portion of a poem.

Using strategies like the ones suggested above may help your child not only improve his/her reading skills, but also enjoy the journey to reading proficiently.

Recommended Books:

5-7 years

The Baby Sister
by Tomie dePaola

This story, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola, is based on his experiences when he became a big brother. Tommy wants a little sister with a red ribbon in her hair. He even helps prepare for the new baby by painting pictures for the baby’s room. When the big day arrives Tommy’s grandmother comes to stay with him. Finally, his mother and the new baby come home and Tommy is delighted to see that his little sister has a red ribbon in her hair.

8-10 years

a PIZZA the size of the SUN
by Jack Prelutsky (Author),James Stevenson (Illustrator)

Jack Prelutsky has been widely acknowledged as the poet laureate for children. This book includes one hundred fast, funny, and clever poems for children. The amusing illustrations also add to the collection.

11-13 years

Ella Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine

The main character of this book, Ella of Frell, is given the gift of obedience by a fairy, at birth. As she grows, Ella begins to realize that this gift is not all that it is cracked up to be, when people begin to order her to do things that she knows are wrong. Finally, Ella begins a quest to find the fairy godmother who gave her the gift so that she can ask her to take it back. Along the way she meets up with princes, ogres, giants and a couple of wicked stepsisters.