An Unexpected Tip for your Reluctant Reader

Looking for tips to deal with a reluctant reader?

You are not alone!

Teaching a reluctant reader can be a frustrating, infuriating, depressing battle.

Grab your coffee, and take a seat mamma. We got some stuff to talk about.

What is a reluctant reader?

A reluctant reader is simply any child who does not have an interest or a desire to read.

In my opinion, that does not include kids that are below the 1st-2nd grade level. Kids who are not interested in reading at that point – are normal, active, kids.

If they are refusing reading instruction during that age – leave them alone! You can do much more damage than good by forcing early literacy on a child who is not ready.

If that comes as a shock, please check out this article from The Washington Post that discusses research on the topic of early literacy.

A reluctant reader is also not necessarily a struggling reader. A struggling reader may have a desire to read, but is struggling with connecting all the dots.

The worst time of day

Now that is out of the way, let’s talk about your most dreaded time of day.

This time of day is why you clicked on this article.

It is why you need coffee in the morning and chocolate at night.

It is the reason you may even be questioning this whole pipe dream of homeschooling.

It is the required 10-15 minutes that your child is supposed to read to you…every day.

Oh, the groaning, the moaning, the slouched posture, the sighing, the eye rolling, the “Are we done yet??” questions.

Depending on how long you have been trying to solve this problem – that may be how you are acting – on the inside of course.

Is there any hope??

Frustrated woman who is upset about child's reading.

Yes, there is hope!

This is not a reflection of you as a teacher, homeschooling, or your child’s intelligence.

I know that, because my oldest child was a reluctant reader.

She understood how to blend words and had finished all of her phonics work without much trouble…but she just did not want to read.

I would set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes and we would painstakingly slug our way through “easy” reader books from the library. It was so painful!

I knew she could do better, but I just could not get her to give me her best work.

The Unexpected Game Changer

I was sitting with her one day, listening to her monotone voice slowly reading to me as we both waited for the timer to ding and end our misery…when it dawned on me!

Maybe she hates reading so much because all of these easy reader books are horrible! The characters are so simple! The plots are so boring! No wonder she doesn’t want to read them!

Maybe I should start her on chapter books with an actual plot that she cares about! Something that will hold her attention and excite her to read more!

No way!

I know what you’re thinking. How in the world can you get your kid to read a chapter book, when you can’t even get through an easy reader!

I am here to tell you that it is possible and it might dramatically change things for your child.

My reluctant reader just finished her 2nd grade curriculum and she is reading on a 4th grade level.

There is hope! Let me show you how I did it!

1. Maybe use Bob Books

Before I tested my chapter book idea, I decided to buy a set of Bob Books.

If you are at all unsure about your child’s understanding of phonics, I would highly recommend looking into this series.

It was written by a kindergarten teacher and comes very highly recommended.

Many “easy” readers for whatever reason have some pretty complicated words that can frustrate your budding reader. Possibly making them want to quit before they even start.

The Bob Books do a great job of only using simple words to let kids practice their phonics skills. Kids love that they can read the whole book without help!

Anyhow, I wanted to make sure that my daughter was ready to progress, so I bought the most advanced set of Bob Books (After completing this set, Bob Books states children are ready for chapter books) to be sure.

We worked our way through them and made sure she was solid on her understanding of the basics.

Your child may not be ready for set 5 and that’s okay! Look at the earlier sets and find one what fits him/her best.

Tip: Most libraries have Bob Books, so check there first before buying.

2. Read an exciting chapter book to your kid

Homeschool Mom reading a chapter book to her reluctant readers

If you don’t already do this, make sure you have interesting and exciting chapter books to read to your kids every day – it should be part of your daily routine.

Why?

You want your kids to see the value of reading and hopefully gain interest in reading!

They should look forward to you reading and want to know what happens next in the story!

If this is new, start by reading to your child during lunch or snack time. They are already sitting down and occupied with food, so that is your best shot to capture their attention!

Not sure about a book? I always recommend readaloudrevival.com. Sarah McKenzie has an amazing website with all kinds of suggestions about reading to your kids.

No time for that? Here are my recommendations to get you going:

The Magic Treehouse Series, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Imagination Station series, Grandmother’s Attic Series

As you can see, I love the idea of a series! I want kids to fall in love with the characters and keep following them!

Tip: Books can be expensive and take up a lot of space in your house – use your library!

3. Pick an easy reader chapter book for you kid to read

Easy reader chapter books have pictures to break up the pages and add interest. They are also written at a younger reading level and have less words per page (The pages do not look like a novel you would read with small print and little space between lines).

There are a lot of great easy reader chapter books to pick from:

This is the book we started with! Princess Posey is super cute, clean fun!

The Circle C series is a really sweet series about a little girl who is tired of riding a pony and wants a real horse. My daughter got such a kick out of her! As a bonus, the series is written by a homeschool mom!

Encyclopedia Brown is another fun series that follows a young boy who is the son of the local police chief. He is a genius who can solve all his dad’s cases by just listening to them at the dinner table!

Want some more ideas? Check these out:


Tip: It is a lot easier to search Amazon than your local library website for books. I often find books on Amazon and then just click over to my library website and order them there. We read a lot, so that has saved us a lot of money!

Um, so how am I supposed to get my reluctant reader to read a chapter book, crazy lady?!

Yep, I’m getting to that.

After you’re done with the Bob books (only if you feel you need them) and you’ve established good groundwork with you reading aloud daily (your kid is always excited to plop down and hear what happens next in the story!) – introduce the easy reader chapter book.

There is a good chance your kid will melt down and have a panic attack at the terrifying object you are holding and asking him to read.

Have a plan!

First, read the first chapter yourself. That will calm your child, introduce the characters and storyline, and pique your child’s interest.

Then tell your child that you will take turns reading for 5-15 minutes.

  • You read one page, he reads the next page
  • You read one paragraph, he reads the next paragraph
  • You read one sentence, he reads the next sentence

Whatever you think your child will go for!

Be sure to praise your child on that day, no matter what happens, for reading from a chapter book!

That should be a huge boost to her confidence!

What do I do after that? – More Tips!

Continue to take turns reading every day, but challenge your child as they progress and let them take more of the lead (i.e. you read one paragraph, they read two paragraphs).

Here are more things I did to help my child progress her reading level:

  • Whenever we read, I kept a piece of white paper under each line. That way she was only looking at one line of text at a time. The whole page could be overwhelming and discouraging to look at.
  • I always had a pencil in my hand. When she came to an unfamiliar word, I would write it on that white piece of paper. Then we would break it down using phonics rules and sound it out together. Writing the word big on a piece of paper always seemed to help!
  • If she was feeling particularly whiny or frustrated, I would tell her that she only had to sound out 5 words. After 5 words, I would just tell her the words she didn’t know. She liked knowing that there was a limit.
  • We go to the library weekly (I know, I know, I talk about the library a lot! But that’s because its awesome!) I literally bring an Ikea bag, so that we can check out 40-50 books every week for my 3 kids. Having fresh, new books to read is huge to keep their interest up!
  • I provide lots of independent play time (AKA, I’m busy and you need to go play). All three of my kids usually find their way over to those library books and start reading!
Emerging reader with lots of library books on the couch
I caught my 3 year old enjoying some library book during independent play time – so many benefits even though she is not reading yet!
  • I keep a tight reign on their screen time. A huge reason for that is a book just cannot compete with Candy Crush or How to Train Your Dragon. In the absence of a screen – a book with a good story starts to look really good! If screen time is a real challenge in your home – you have to check out Mobicip. It helps you control and filter screen time without being the bad guy!
  • Even though my daughter can read very well on her own now, I still read to her every day. This is so important because it is time that we are together as a family. I love that my girls all look forward to sitting on my lap and reading the next chapter. We talk about the story which is also great conversation and reading comprehension.

Recap

Are you struggling with a reluctant reader? I have been there! Let me share the tip that helped my kid jump ahead by 2 reading levels! I think you'll be surprised!

There is hope for your reluctant reader!

Keep encouraging your child and working with them as they progress with reading. Your hard work and patience will pay off!

Before you know it, you will look up and see them reading on their own to their siblings and wonder what in the world is going on!

Reluctant reader starts reading to her siblings!
True story: I found my former reluctant reader with a stack of books reading to her sisters!

Just remember –

  • Check out the Bob Books if you think your child still needs help with the basics of phonics.
  • Read aloud every day to your kids! It is so key to raising a life long reader.
  • Don’t be afraid to dive in with an easy reader chapter book. Your kid may be a little apprehensive, but your encouragement and patience will help give her the confidence she needs to succeed!

If you still need some more help with motivation, be sure to check out my post – How to Motivate your Homeschooler to Get That Work DONE. It is huge for us!

If you have more tips that have worked for your reluctant reader, please share in the comments! I know other moms would love to read it!

Want to make sure you remember all of this tomorrow? Pin it to your favorite pinterest board and share with your friends and followers!

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