7 Strategies For a Reluctant Reader

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If your child is a reluctant reader and says that books are boring, let’s delve a little deeper to find out if books are really boring and then find strategies to help.

Reluctant Reader Strategies

reluctant reader strategies and ideas for children

To find out, ask questions like:

“Do you remember any books that weren’t boring? “If you could read a not-boring book, what would it be about?” “Does boring mean tricky?”

If boring means boring, hooray! That’s quite a bit simpler than tricky. All you have to do is find the right book to hook your child into reading or right motivation to make reading fun. If boring means too tricky, then can use Book Love to figure out what part of the reading processes are challenging for your child. Book Love includes quick and easy home assessments.

If Books are Boring, Try These Ideas

1. Get silly. Most kids are silly. Get books that will crack your kids up – no matter what age, gender, or interest. (Funny books listed in the last chapter of Book Love.)

2. Get social.  Start a parent-child book club of your own. Gender and grade specific book clubs usually work best because of reading level and interest.

3. Get geeky. Kids love technology. Use that love to develop a love for reading, too. Read on a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or  the computer. All have selections of good electronic books (e-books) for kids. (E-books books listed in the last chapter of Book Love.)

4. Get graphic novels. Graphic novels (full-length comic-style stories) don’t deserve the lack of reading status they’ve been given. They very much count as reading. Why not encourage it your kids to try one?

5. Get book bucks. Give your child money to spend on books – either at the bookstore or at a yard sale.  With young children, instead of money, give them a book buck worth one book of any price. Printable Book Love Book Bucks.

6. Get movies.  Want to see the movie? Read the book first. Or vice-versa. See if you think the book beats the movie. Here’s a list of books with movies.

7. Get cozy.  Make an enticing place for your child to curl up with a good book. Use your spaces and imagination. With your child’s help, designate a tent, corner, or closet for his reading nook. Your goal is to get your child to LOVE stories. Keep trying. Find out what motivates your child to move beyond “books are boring”.

Does your reluctant reader think books are boring? COMMENT BELOW

6 Ideas for Reluctant Readers
4 Reasons Kids Don’t Like to Read
Guerrilla Tactics to Get Your Kids Reading


29 Responses

  1. I’ll give some of these a try but my boy claims every book is boring too. He’s 8 and will read if I ‘force’ him and can read well according to his teacher. Never more than the required 20 minutes a day though. He often says things like I wish this would happen and rattle off some scenario. Magic Tree house-boring, Goosebumps -“stupid” his word and boring, Stuart Little – boring, Boxcar kids-boring, the only ‘book’ he seemed to like was the story from Dancing Bears Reading Program which is a homeschool program used by my sister who homeschools; my guy goes to public school but read the story. A lot of people complained the story was inappropriate due to drinking including the 6 year old main character drinking at one point and strange situations but my kid liked it. It reminded me of pinocchio a bit so I tried him on that but the book was too hard. I just make him pick a book from library and read it: he typically pics something along lines of Flat Stanley or Magic Tree House just because it is easy to finish one chapter in 20 minutes. basically he comes in picks up book and says let me read now and as soon as 20 min up he puts book down, tells me what happened in the chapter then runs off to play. No ‘love of reading’ which makes me sad. IF he doesn’t finish the book before library day he never checks them out to see how they end just picks something else.

    1. Wow – it sounds like you’re trying everything you can! What is his reading level, do you know? It sounds he could be reading harder books if he’s blowing through the Magic Tree House that fast.

      What does he think about audio books that are a little bit harder? I’m wondering if a more complex story line would be interesting to him. If that were the case, he would try one.

      If he likes unusual stories, I’d try Neil Gaiman’s books, Erin Hunter has great books about cats and bears with very elaborate societies, Maryrose Wood’s Incorrigible Children books are so interesting (kids raised by wolves), A Whole Nother Story by Cuthbert Soup is a wild, wacky story, and maybe he’d like Louis Sachar’s Wayside School books which are pretty humorous and enteraining, too.

      1. He seems intimidated by bigger books but he can read ‘well above grade level’ according to his teacher. He’s in second grade but ‘older’ since his b-day is 1 day after school cut off…so he started second and turned 8 the very next day. I try to find lists I think are interesting but he never likes them. His teacher suggested Redwall series but he seemed intimidated by the size of the books. I’ve never heard of any of your list other than Wayside School so going to give them a try. His fave animals are BEARS and has collection of bear stuff (sheets, toys and such) so I’ll have to check out the bear ones. Thanks!

        1. I had a daughter like that – really was into running/playing! I always said she read with one eye on the clock and when her 20 minutes were up she would close the book – even if there was one page left!!! She is now 23 years old, graduated with honors from college and loves to read for fun! Hang in there!

  2. You have great ideas!! thanks for sharing!

  3. A friend of mine recently mentioned that he thanks his parents for his love of books. They would let his siblings and him stay up late only if they were reading.

  4. Toronto TEacher says:

    As a teacher and passionate reader, I’ve noticed that the repeated claim of “it’s boring” often means a) that the child is trying to read a book that’s way beyond their level and/or b) the reader is not engaging with the book. Often these kids can read aloud at a quite satisfactory or advanced level, but when asked details about what they have just read don’t really have a good idea. If asked questions that require them to make inferences, or project their own feelings and knowledge onto the text, they can’t do it. So, in essence, they are just reading a string of words which don’t make a picture in their heads or join together to make a story. It can be difficult if the child is older as they may have gotten into the habit of reading in this way.

    1. yes, and they are good at fooling us – we must really ask a lot of questions and have discussion time to know for sure about comprehension.

    2. Elissa Field says:

      Very true! When kids really want to read a book beyond their level, I encourage them to buddy-read with parents, and that’s been a great source of success with kids — boys and girls — up through 7th grade.

    3. Interesting. He seems to know what goes on in the chapters, my son, but never asked him to project what happens next and he is very negative on what will happen next. I feel like I stuck to read alouds too long…of books with same types of situations. Like in Boxcar kids he explained to me how they hid in woods in on chapter so the baker’s husband wouldn’t find them but then said ‘it is so boring. I wish the uncle would have got them and tied them up and they had to escape’. I said, ‘well, maybe he does, keep reading’. He said something like ‘yeah that never happens in books’ and when finished the book said ‘told you nothing exciting ever happens in books’.

  5. Ingeborg Rodarte says:

    how about using gadgets instead?, students love using gadgets which means they’d be more interested in reading if they use a thing that they interest into, also for the contents, you may visit bookboon.com

  6. IuqcaJAnn says:

    Books of short stories work well too. The Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books are good, so are Sideways Stories from Wayside High. They get started quickly and wrap up quickly, without as much of the introductory boring. I remember feeling guilty as a child when I skipped the first chapter of Babysitters’ Club books to avoid hearing about Claudia’s love for Ring Dings, Kristy’s jeans and sweaters, and about Stacey’s diabetes. So boring. And I have diabetes, love ring dings, and constantly wear jeans and sweaters…

  7. I’ve decided to give a book buck to each of our younger children as a Christmas gift. They will be excited and it will carry over after Christmas:) I went to Costco and bought my youngest Rudolph the red nose reindeer so that my hubby and I can record our voices to the song so that they will read it over and over again. $12.00 is worth them learning to love to sit with any book:)

  8. My middle daughter, age 10, thinks all books are boring, yet she’s an excellent reader. She’s just very picky and impatient and needs the book to draw her in immediately. Not all books are capable of that so my trick is to read the first two or three chapters out loud to her until she’s hooked. Even though she’s in 5th grade, she still needs that. The books she likes are here: http://pickykidpix.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/4th-grade-chapter-books/

    and here: http://pickykidpix.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/books-i-read-recently-that-i-really-liked/

    and here: http://pickykidpix.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/five-great-books-i-read-this-summer-my-assigned-summer-homework/

  9. My daughter has trouble sitting down to read, but once reading enjoys herself. We instituted a Mother-Daughter reading time at the end of each day! (Sometimes it’s a Daddy-Daughter reading time if I’m out and about). It’s really helped her get into reading and is a time for us to be close to each other…win-win!

    1. Alison Wood says:

      Gonna try this idea!

  10. Your post has motivated me to buy books as Christmas presents this year. Using your ideas, each book will be selected specially to appeal to the interests of each kid on my list.

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