How to Motivate Reluctant Readers

How to Motivate Reluctant Readers

how to motivate reluctant readersI keep hearing from moms whose kids don’t like to read or don’t read as much as their mothers hope. Why the concern?

The Problem With Kids Who Don’t Read

The main cause for concern with kids who would rather do anything else but read is that they won’t become proficient readers without enough time with their noses in books. Kids who can’t read well tend to do very poorly in life, no matter how you measure. That’s why literacy is a high priority for schools and it’s a high priority for homeschooling moms, too.

While there are audio and even visual Bibles, the most accessible way to take in God’s Word is to read it. As a Christian homeschooler, I hope that my children will have the reading skills they need to read the Bible and the will to read it, too, especially when they leave home. A lesser concern where reading is concerned is our desire to have adult children who read for pleasure. Reading is a great hobby that we want to pass on!

What if Your Child Would Rather Do Anything But Read?

Assess His Abilities

Most of the time, children who are reluctant to read find it challenging. Does your child have a visual impairment, attention deficits, or a learning disability that makes reading more work? Does she need to learn to read in a different way? My reluctant reader could not learn to read phonetically, though his three older siblings did. Once I let him learn to read using sight words (or a whole language approach), his reading took off. You may need an evaluation of your child, but read the rest of my suggestions first.

Ease Your Expectations

Because so much is riding on reading, we homeschoolers can overreact to any child who isn’t reading at grade level or just doesn’t like to read. I have heard numerous testimonies of children who were late readers but caught up with or exceeded their same age peers. I can tell you numerous similar stories of people who didn’t like to read as children, but are avid readers as adults. My husband, pictured above, is a great example. He seriously read Gone With the Wind just because he wanted to! When we are fearful, we can easily become impatient and even angry about reading. Our children pick up on our attitudes easily and soon you’re in a battle of wills or you’re dealing with a child who gives up because she feels she’s not a good reader.

Keep Reading to Your Child

I didn’t understand for a long time the incredible value of reading to children in terms of building a child’s reading skills. When you read books out loud that are above your child’s reading level, he is building a vocabulary that will enable his reading to take off when he’s developmentally ready. For example, if you read a word like appreciate out loud, even if your child doesn’t see the word, when she comes to it in a book one day, she’ll sound out uh-pr–appreciate. She will recognize the word easily from a few phonics and the context. Don’t have the time to read out loud as much as you’d like? Consider a Disney Interactive Books or Audible subscription so your child can be read to any time.

Make Reading Easy

Capstone Publishers has succeeded in large part because of its focus on creating high-interest, easy-to-read books–especially for boys. No longer are readers who are “behind grade level” saddled with baby books. There are easy-to-read books on nearly every subject. Graphic novels (like comic books in novel form) are particularly appealing to boys. Calvin and Hobbes (not a Capstone title) has gotten many a boy, including mine, to love reading. You can find this book and Capstone titles at a library near you.  I recommend giving your child a book at or below his reading level and telling him, “I’m not sure if this is too difficult for you or not. Let me know, okay, and I’ll find one that’s easier.” What this does is help your child save face if it is in fact too hard, but more likely your child will be thrilled to tell you that it’s soooo easy to read! When your child’s confidence is up, motivating her is easy, too.

Make Reading Rewarding

There are lots of great ways to make reading fun. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Keep a steady supply of new books coming into your home. I’m married to a book salesman and new boxes of books are a source of Christmas-like excitement. You can create that kind of environment by regularly getting books from the library, Goodwill, or Paperbackswap. Ask any school librarian and she will tell you that she has to keep a steady supply of new books on the shelves to appeal to reluctant readers.
  • Offer a reward. My husband has often offered a shake for a certain number of books read. Lots of reading goes on at those times. While you wouldn’t want your child to expect a treat every time he reads, an occasional reward will help him see reading as the real reward.
  • Connect books to movies or games. Whether you offer to let your child see the movie version or play the related video game of a book before or after reading the book, this multimedia approach has been proven to promote reading.
  • Let your child express his creativity around a book. My kids love to dramatize books for the family. Your child may enjoy doing show and tell about her favorite book, drawing pictures to go with it, or competing in a quiz bowl with a sibling who has read the same book.

Have you been able to motivate a reluctant reader? What worked?

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How to Keep Up With Your Blog Reading

How to Keep Up With Your Blog Reading

If you love to read blogs like I do, you have probably subscribed to a lot of them. I have my family’s and friends’ blogs in my Google reader as well as blogs in areas of interest to me. Subscribing is easy; reading them all is hard! But I’ve found a solution that works for me. Maybe it will work for you, too, regardless of which reader you use.

  1. Purge all blog posts from your reader. Yep, you read that right. The only reason I wouldn’t suggest you do this is if you haven’t subscribed to many blogs and you’re keeping up with what you have. But if that’s the case, why are you reading this post? Start fresh. I know some of those posts may be life-changing, but be strong and click “mark all as read.”
  2. Set up folders based on day of the week, subject, or both. You can keep up with your blog reading by dividing and conquering. Using your reader, create folders labeled for days of the week that you know you have time to read. If Mondays are never a good day to read, don’t create a Monday folder. Alternately, you can simply create subject folders that you will then assign to days of the week. I suggest using subjects that correspond to the first letter of the week day to help you remember (Money – Monday; Teaching – Tuesday; Food – Friday). That way you don’t have to include the day in the folder label. I use both day folders and subject folders because sometimes I have a hankering to read more on a given subject, even if it’s not the day for it. I’m like that.
  3. Assign each blog to a day and/or subject folder(s). I assign most of my family and closest friends’ blogs to every day folder. Why? Because then I won’t feel guilty when they ask, “Did you see my post on…?” Ree Drummond will never ask me that so I don’t assign Pioneer Woman to every day. Her food blog posts get assigned to Recipes and to Wednesday which is when I do my meal planning. Not sure a blog is for you? I assign those to a Try It folder.
  4. Schedule a time to read your daily blog folder. If you don’t think about when you can and will read, you just won’t. Of course, if you’ve decided that this is all too much bother, and you don’t want to read blog posts, I’ve just done you a favor. Unsubscribe from blogs and do something more productive, like pin pictures to Pinterest. If you do want to read, then make a habit of it. The best time for me is at lunch on my iPad. I love Flipboard.

If you haven’t added Wonder Women to your reader, I’d be honored if you did! Do you have any other suggestions for keeping up with blogs?


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Got a Reluctant Reader?

Got a Reluctant Reader?


There are any number of reasons why your child may not be wild about reading: 

1) Books he's given are too challenging for him

2) The material doesn't interest him

3) She might have a learning disability like dyslexia

4) Not enough reading role models

5) She's an auditory learner

6) Other options for entertainment are too easily accessible (e.g., video games)

7) He is anxious about it, possibly because Mom or Dad is, too

Whatever the reason for his reluctance, it's a good idea to take a relaxed approach to trying several different approaches to encouraging reading. I have two websites for you and your child to check out. The first is a great one for kids at the very beginning of their reading journey: Starfall. Your child can brush up on phonics and take the focus off her performance by rating the stories she reads. It's completely free!

The second website is from Disney. It offers 600 titles from picture to chapter books. Books can be read to your child or unknown words can be touched and read to them. A dictionary can quickly be accessed, too. Kids love the realistic turning pages. The most innovative part of the program is the intermittent (and unexpected) quizzes that test comprehension and award points. Get a free week trial here without giving your credit card! If you love it, up to three children can read as many books as they'd like for $8.95/month. Very reasonable in my opinion! And nope, I don't get anything for sending you there. 


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