The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: For reluctant readers

Thursday, August 25, 2011

For reluctant readers

In a recent interview, Rick Riordan and James Patterson discuss reluctant readers. (Click the link to view the video) They are particulalry interested in re-energizing young boys to read.  However, if you aren't a rich and famous author who writes for this age in addition to writing for the adult market, here are some tips for engaging your own reluctant readers at home and in school:
  • Required reading turns off reluctant readers.  Find their interests and then relate those interests to books on the topic.  Mix fiction with nonfiction to find out which is more appealing to the reluctant reader.  More and more children are finding that they prefer to read nonfiction!
  • Help the reluctant reader to choose books with fewer than 120 pages and a reading level that does not challenge his or her ability.  Gradually build up to a higher reading level rather than offering a frustrating challenge at the outset.
  • Read the book first.  This has two advantages: (1) You can have a book discussion after your child reads the book, too, and (2) You can see if the content and style is appropriate.  Find books with fewer than four characters.  Too many characters and too many subplots confuse the reluctant reader.
  • Offer incentives.  I like stickers as incentives becuase they are inexpensive and calorie-free :).
  • Record finished books.  Many times, children will begin a book, put it down, and then never return to it again.  When I was a kid, my favorite reading activity was to create a little 3x3 inch construction paper "book" (picture a 3 x 6 piece of paper folded in half).  I wrote the title and author on the cover and then a very brief summary on the inside.  Since I was in school, I added my name on the back.  Then I added it to my "pocket" that the teacher had set up in the front of the room to show all the books everyone had read.  I looked forward to finishing a book so I could add a different colored "book" to my pocket.  What fun!
Reading opens worlds to children who tend to have tunnel vision.  Even reluctant readers can see beyond their own back yard with appropriate books for their interests and abilities.

Happy Parenting and Happy Teaching!

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