6 New Ideas for Reluctant Readers

Do you have a reluctant reader?  I did — and I tried everything to get her to like books and engage with stories.  Here are some of the odd things I tried that seemed to work.

Reluctant Reader Ideashttp://imaginationsoup.net/2010/04/artist-dates-with-kids/

1. EAT and READ:

Read to your reluctant reader while they are at the table eating. (Sitting still.  Undivided attention.)


Go to the library and let her check out as many books as she wants.  Even if it’s 60!  Even if it’s 100!  Who isn’t going to be excited about that? (Besides your back?)


Give books as rewards.  Go to a garage sale or a book store and let him pick out reward books you can dole out later.


Read to her when she’s sad or mad. This associates books with comfort.


If you play an audio book in the car or living room, someone listening just might get hooked. (Besides you.)


Let your relucant reader stay up late to read in bed with a flashlight or headlamp. Breaking rules is fun!

– – – – – – – –

I agonized and worried for years that my daughter wouldn’t love books. A wise friend told me to relax, not push too hard and it would come.  I’m not sure I totally relaxed but somehow, it did eventually “click” and now my daughter loves to read.

How about you? What have you done that’s worked? What are you trying now?

Find many more ideas in my book, Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader.

Photo credit: Abdullah AL-Naser / Foter.com / CC BY

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  • BabetteR

    Every idea on your list is a winner! I would add: Let the kiddo pick what they want to read–and don’t talk them out of it! You, as the adult, might think it is too easy or too hard or not “schooly” enough. But self-choice is a strong motivator. And if they bring home six books and only read one, that’s ok too. They read one!

    Also, often many reluctant readers will read a graphic novel (comic book) when nothing else interests them. And that’s ok too. It’s the number of words read that is the most important for building fluency.

    In general, we as adults can often get “in the way” of kids finding their own way to become readers. Summer is a great time to let them really take the lead.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      choice is key, so true. Thanks!

  • http://thebookchook.blogspot.com Book Chook

    I also very much believe in modelling. When kids see us reading, it becomes associated in their minds as something family members do, just like watching TV or cleaning teeth.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      amen – thanks for making this point!

  • http://www.teachachildtoread.net Mary Gallagher

    Agree with all of the above! To create a reader, adults must create a reading environment that immerses the child with print and the love of books. Even the most reluctant reader can be won over if given the right to choose books and the opportunity to engage in books. It may take some perserance but don’t ever give up! My son is now an avid reader and my oldest is picking up books and sticking with them. Now, I just have to keep working on my husband!

  • http://www.BrandyandVal.com Ilene Fine

    All the suggestions are great and I, too, very much believe in being a role model for children to follow. Once a child hones in on topics or categories he/she likes, bring home some books on your own and leave them lying around the house for him/her to discover. Books with toy tie-ins are also helpful since children can engage with the toys and make up their own stories after the books are done.

  • http://www.ink-spells.blogspot.com Susan Kaye Quinn

    This ia a great post and discussion with some great ideas! I’m going to blog about this tomorrow, and post to your blog! :)

    • http://www.ink-spells.blogspot.com Susan Kaye Quinn

      Er, I mean LINK to your blog. *sheesh*

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      thank you, Susan.

  • http://www.momsinspirelearning.com Dawn Riccardi Morris

    Great ideas, Melissa! I like the over-kill and the comfort ideas the best.

    If my children have many different books to choose from, there’s always one that will spark interest. If not, back to the library or book store for more selections! It’s time well spent.

    As for comfort, it’s all about enjoying all kinds of books together, starting at a very young age (preferably during the first year). When parents share a love of reading with children, it truly is the greatest gift, and one that lasts forever.

  • http://beginningreadinghelp.blogspot.com Michelle Breum

    I love these ideas. Thanks for adding the link to share your best post on my blog. This is great information for readers of my blog.

    Eat and Read would work for our own books but not library books. I sort of used this idea with reading to them. Lately I’ve been trying to read some good chapter books to my kids ages 6, 6, and 8. This is a hard age to get to slow down and sit on the couch for one or two chapters. They’ll read their own books, but I was struggling with getting enough time to read and finish a book. I started reading sometimes during afternoon and evening snack. One week when our library book was almost due I read during breakfast everyday. My kids loved it.

  • http://www.brimfulcuriosities.com Janelle

    I’ve even read to my kids when they are playing in the bathtub! Acting out stories with puppets is a fun way to encourage reading aloud. I read the Elephant and Piggie books with my daughter this way sometimes. She reads one part and I take the other.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      love it!

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  • http://www.sowinglittleseeds.blogspot.com Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds

    These are all great ideas. I know that when we seem to be getting on each others’ nerves, reading a story together is a great tension reliever. It is a much solution than spending time apart which is what most people would suggest.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      :) you’re a smart reading mama, Becky!!

  • http://keithaschaos.blogspot.com Keitha

    Great post. These are very good ideas. My son is just beginning his own adventures into reading. Reading to him as an infant, toddler, and preschooler has given him a rich vocabulary. I would also add to take your young ones to the library story times and activities.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      yes, the library – great!!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1349171776 Joan Brennan

    Excellent post and appreciate the do-able simplicity of these reading ideas for ALL readers—but especially for reluctant or struggling readers! Many thanks for the great article here!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

      thanks for reading!

  • Andrea Gingras

    Do you have a pet? Ask your child to find a book they think the pet would enjoy then suggest your child read to he/she or it! Or post notes from the pet to your child asking for a hug and a story.

  • Laurie Schultz

    These are great but I wouldn’t say they are “new”.

  • Teacher

    I allow my students to bring in a stuff animal and read to it.

  • Teacher

    When my boys were infants, I would read the stories to a tape. They became familiar with my voice especially when I had to go back to work.

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