Do you have a reluctant reader in your family? Here are five ways to encourage them.
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1. Play Board Games that Include Reading
My kids love playing games, even my reluctant readers. They’re very motivated to play with the rest of the family, which encourages them to keep trying.
By adding a reading based board game into our routines several times a week, my reluctant readers have slowly gotten better. And, they don’t realize that they’re actually getting reading practice in, since they’re just busy trying to win the game. Win win!
Here are some of our favorite board games that include a decent amount of reading. These are perfect for kids in the 8-12 range who need some extra reading motivation.
- Disney Villainous
- Scattegories (we also read through the selected list once together before starting the timer)
- Apples to Apples (we play the junior and Disney versions)
- Scrambled States of America
When you first start playing reading based games with your reluctant readers, give them a lifeline. Let them ask another person for help with the harder words. We either let them ask a reader who isn’t playing, or assign a person who can help without then using that information to make the player asking for help lose. (It’s usually me, mom!)
Being able to ask for help keeps struggling readers from getting discouraged during game play. It keeps things lighthearted and not as serious. As you continue playing, they’ll need less and less help. It’s a great way to scaffold them, so the game is fun for everyone.
2. Have a Daily Quiet Reading Time
Reluctant readers really benefit from seeing others read. And quiet reading time is a great way to make that happen consistently. Several days a week, we all sit down with a book for 15 minutes. At the end of the time, we share about what we read.
By seeing both parents and all their siblings reading, the reluctant readers see that it’s not so bad.
And they’re motivated to actually read so they have something to share when it’s sharing time.
3. Read Aloud Daily
For us, we read a chapter of the Bible as a family each day. Most days, we break it out and have each reader tackle a couple of verses. This has been one of the biggest things to help improve some of my kids’ reading.
They need the consistent read aloud practice. And since we’re reading the Bible as part of Bible Time and not “school,” they’re more eager to read. My kids who hate reading aloud during “school” eagerly volunteer to read the Bible. It’s amazing.
And God’s word is important to read, so it’s awesome to hear them tackle the larger words.
4. Let Them Self-Select Books
Reluctant readers often want to read books that we would consider “too hard.” But, it’s a mistake to keep them from reading harder books.
They may not understand everything. That’s okay. By having the opportunity to push themselves, they often find the motivation to learn new words.
Of course, you don’t want everything they read to be too hard. There’s a time and place for working on too-easy texts for comprehension exercises, and just-right text for reading instruction. But for reading time? Let them read what they want.
We even have a bin of old Disney Uncle Scrooge and Mickey Mouse comic books that some of my kids enjoy. It may not be “great literature” but it is reading. And that’s the goal.
5. Get Them Hooked with Audio Books
We have a 2-book per month Audible subscription. Each month, we get two new titles. We often listen to these in the van when we’re taking trips for our ministry.
Many times, I see my kids then picking up the actual book version and reading it. They are already familiar with the story, and want to read it.
This also works if we listen to the first book in a series and then I give them the next one in a paperback.
Here are some of our favorites that we’ve gotten audio versions for at least some of the series:
- The Boxcar Children
- Keepers of the School
- Henry Huggins
- Mouse and the Motorcycle
Listening to a book definitely counts as reading, so don’t discount it’s importance. It really can be a great way to hook reluctant readers on reading.
Other Tips for Reluctant Readers
If you’re dealing with a reluctant reader, make sure to keep things upbeat when you practice. Don’t use language that makes them think they’ll never get it, or that they are incapable of reading. Speak kindly and with patience.
If you are losing your patience, that’s enough reading practice for the moment. Walk away and try again later. I know it can be challenging to help a student sound out the same word over and over again, but if you can’t do it without becoming frustrated, you aren’t helping either of you.
Make learning fun. Play games. Write words on cards and hide them around the room. Set out word cards and have your child shoot the one you call out with a Nerf gun.
Encourage them to keep practicing.
Go back to playing with the alphabet even. Knowing letters and sounds is so critical to reading success that it’s worth going back to if you have a reluctant reader. It’ll help them build confidence and find success.
Try new things – we got these color coded reading spacers and they worked really well for one of my kids.
Don’t give up on them. Your kids need you to believe that they are capable of learning. So don’t make them think that they aren’t.
And remember, there’s no shame in asking for help to teach your child to read. If you’re homeschooling and struggling, reach out to your local school district if you feel like your child could benefit from some extra help.
If you’re looking for a fun way to teach reading skills, check out my Teaching Reading Through Play Curriculum!