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Get Them Hooked! Tips for Motivating Reluctant Readers

We all know reading is an important skill but, once your child has lost interest in reading, it can be hard to get it back. Whether your child is struggling with reading or simply isn’t motivated to read, don’t give up hope. There are a number of strategies that can help your child become more engaged in reading, build literacy skills and gain knowledge.

Get them hooked

Letting your child choose their own books to read is a simple way to increase reading motivation. If your child is unsure of what to read, try discussing their interests and brainstorm what they might like to read about, or explore displays at the local library. When your child has enjoyed a certain book, try looking together online to see if the author has written other books, or ask the children’s librarian for suggestions. Remember not to restrict selections to fiction books; non-fiction books
and magazines about a particular interest are great options too.

You’ll also want to make sure your child is choosing reading material at their level to avoid frustration and reduced confidence. A good way to test this is to flip to a random page and have your child read aloud, putting up a finger for each word they are unfamiliar with - more than five fingers generally means it is above their reading level. However, don’t worry about putting the book back - this just means this is a good book to read together, which can help improve your child’s reading level. If your child still doesn’t seem excited about their book, try to get the conversation started by discussing what might happen, or what the cover picture reminds them of. Your enthusiasm can go a long way in fostering your child’s excitement!

Make it a group activity

When reading is a social activity, it can be more enjoyable for your child. Making reading with mom or dad a part of the daily routine helps pair the task of reading with spending time with a parent, which can help make reading a more desired activity. Reading to your child has numerous other benefits including increased vocabulary, exposure to new knowledge and even a reduction in stress. If your child has younger siblings or cousins, encouraging your child to read to them is another great method. This works especially well for children who are reading at lower than their grade level, as it allows them to read lower-level books without embarrassment.

Part of the fun of reading is exploring the book with others. Joining a book club is a great way to do this. Many libraries offer book clubs, often with prizes to further motivate your child to read. These methods have benefits beyond motivation - research shows that reading aloud and discussing books helps increase understanding.

Disguise reading

Incorporating reading into your daily life is a great way to help build your child’s reading skills while exposing them to different types of reading. For children who don’t enjoy reading books, this can also help them to realize the purpose of reading. Playing games that incorporate reading are a good choice. If your child enjoys craft or science projects, having them read the instructions is another good way to practice reading. Even reading a menu at a restaurant is good practice, and helps expose your child to new words.

Incorporating technology

Using technology is a great way to get reading to appeal to the ‘digital generation.’ Using an e-Reader to read instead of a paper book may appeal to your child more. Additionally, e-Readers have features that can be helpful for children who struggle with reading, such as definitions and audio features. Apps and websites that feature stories are other good options. These stories are often interactive and present the material in a variety of different ways, which helps with comprehension and engagement. But beware, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age two.

Janelle is a freelance writer and psychology student based in Delta, BC.

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