Engaging reluctant readers can prove a real challenge – although the benefits and satisfaction of instilling a love of reading are tremendous. With reluctant readers, it is important to remember that all acts of reading are to be celebrated, whether from a recipe book, subtitles, graphic novels etc.
Please find some of our 'top tips' below:
- Praise, praise, praise! Celebrate every small triumph and act of reading – this could be through verbal praise, a sticker on a reward chart or a trip somewhere they enjoy.
- Empathise. Remember that many students find reading hard work. This makes practice more important than ever so reading becomes easier over time. However, it is worth putting yourself in your child's shoes - none of us like to feel exhausted by an activity, or like we are not good at something.
- Support your child's choices and interests – do they like autobiographies for instance? Sport? Photography? Comic books or graphic novels? Comedy? All acts of reading are to be celebrated and finding a text which revolves around your child's interests might provide the springboard to a healthy relationship with reading.
- Give your child real-life examples of where reading comes in handy – such as reading instructions during a driving theory test, checking through contracts or owning your own business.
- Think about the reading setting. Does your child have a comfortable, quiet space to read? Could some additional cushions or a bean bag make the activity more appealing? Some students enjoy reading in a make-shift tent or lying on a rug.
- Ask your child to read to a younger sibling or relative. We all enjoy feeling like 'experts' and your child may enjoy assuming this role by reading with a younger child. It is also a wonderful bonding experience!
- Play games, introduce mini competitions and keep things light-hearted.
- Recap the events of the story regularly, particularly if your child is building up their reading skills. They may have focused most of their energy on decoding individual words and lost track of what is happening in the story itself.
- Use the TRUST acronym as a guide to talk about what your child is reading (see the useful resources section).
- Nowadays, it is far easier to form a connection with your favourite author – together, you may wish to send a tweet to an author whose work you enjoy.
- Use audiobooks. These are wonderful tools to help build your child's vocabulary as they enable children to hear words in context, and with the right intonation. They can also support children's well-being, and even be listened to whilst out on a walk.
- Vary the length of texts – short stories and flash fiction can be motivational and enjoyable.
- Share the reading. Students will benefit from listening to you read so they can hear pronunciation and unfamiliar words in context. Turn-taking also gives them an opportunity to follow the plot more smoothly if they are also decoding words as they go along.
- Use other mediums, such as kindles (or the kindle app).
- Pop the subtitles on occasionally to help your child build up their vocabulary.