Motivating Reluctant Readers

Many children struggle to enjoy reading, even when they grow up surrounded by books. For some this is due to a learning impairment, such as dyslexia, but for many children it is tied to confidence, boredom or simply a lack of interest. Here are some tips to help if you notice your child is struggling.

Read Every Day

Just ten minutes of reading time a day is all that is needed. Try to make reading part of your family’s schedule. Some children may be too tired to read just before bed, in which case reading right after supper might work better for some families. 

Take Breaks

Learning experts tell us a child’s attention span for learning is approximately equivalent to their age in minutes. Therefore, a 4th grader can only focus 10 mins at a time on a task. Use this as a baseline when encouraging your child to read.

Break It Down

A book doesn’t have to be read in one or two sittings. A page or a chapter at a time is all that some kids can manage, and that is ok! When they become more practiced and more confident, you can extend the duration of reading time.

Read Together

Alternate pages or chapters. Reading aloud doesn’t have to stop once kids move to chapter books. Talk about what’s going on in the story. Chances are your child will be more engaged if you are demonstrating your interest in the book. Find out more about the benefits of reading aloud with older kids.

Have Them Read to a Stuffie or Pet

Reading to pets or stuffed animals can help children gain confidence, as they can read without feeling judged on their pace, fluency or comprehension.

Let Them Choose a Variety of Formats

Audiobooks and graphic novels count as reading. Studies have shown that children can understand audiobooks that are two reading levels higher than what they can comprehend in print, making them a natural choice for improving comprehension and vocabulary building. Read more about the benefits of audiobooks.

Graphic novels are also just as valid a format as print books. Graphic novels may be a great choice for kids who are more visual learners or who struggle with attention span or confidence. Read more about the benefits of graphic novels.

Some kids would also prefer to read non-fiction or magazines, and that is perfectly okay, too! At the end of the day, what matters is that they are reading something they’re interested in and that they understand what they’re reading. 


Need some book suggestions to get started? Check out our booklist for reluctant readers.

Books for Reluctant Readers

List created by SCL_Elementary

These are books that will engage high-interest, low-reading level (hi-lo) readers, also known as reluctant or struggling readers. These are chapter books with engaging plots and characters, but written using simple language. They are great for ESL students or kids who struggle with reading, and many are printed using dyslexia-friendly fonts. Most of these are also available as an audiobook. Audiobooks are a great way to boost reading comprehension and vocabulary skills, and are available as digital downloads as well. Ask a library worker today to learn more!






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~Carlene (Youth Services Department)

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