Help for Reluctant Readers

Reluctant Readers

Studies show that around one in three children don’t enjoy reading. Both girls and boys can be reluctant to read, although until recently most support focused on boys. There are many reasons a child may be reluctant to read:

  • A home with no books or reading. If kids don’t see adults read, they don’t have positive reinforcement of the value of reading. Kids whose parents don’t read to them may find it harder to learn to read. This reinforces the idea that reading isn’t fun.
  • A lack of reading role-models. Boys in particular may never have seen an adult of their own gender reading.
  • Disenchantment with ‘beginner’ books. Children with no book culture at home may not associate reading with story and pleasure. If they are limited them to ‘at-level’ texts (e.g. reading schemes) in school, they may give up.
  • Unidentified reading issues. Reluctant readers often struggle to read, because they haven’t built up enough experience to do it with ease. Sometimes, though, there’s an issue like dyslexia and a child avoids reading so as to hide it.
  • Competition from other media. Immature and inexperienced readers have to ‘work’ at books while games consoles etc offer instant gratification.
  • Book selection may be wrong. We often value ‘big books’ more than short ones and obsess over ‘progression’ and ‘quality’, meaning that children don’t get to pick what they want to read. Children’s books are also still quite white, middle-class and middle England, and so some kids may feel shut out.

It doesn’t always help to tackle a reluctant reader ‘head on’ – in fact, this may compound the problem. Instead, let them see you reading, talk about what you have read and make accessible, appropriate books easily available. Don’t judge their reading choices, and don’t forget that match reports, comics, graphic novels, magazines and so on are ‘reading’ too.

Every reluctant reader is an individual with individual tastes, but here are a few recommendations from our list of dyslexia-friendly, super-readable books:

  • for console fans, try Chris Bradford’s Gamer
  • for horror flick fans, try Chris Wooding’s Pale or Malorie Blackman’s Jon for Short
  • for sci-fi fans, try Malorie Blackman’s Robot Girl
  • for martial-arts fans, try Chris Bradford’s Ninja books
  • for comic fans, try Jeremy Strong’s Mad Iris books
  • for sports fans, try Tom Palmer’s Secret FC, Combat Zone, Surface to Air and Deadlocked.

We’re very happy to offer individual advice by phone or email.

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