How to Encourage a Reluctant Reader

For those who love reading, it seems almost incomprehensible that there are people who do not enjoy reading. At Tutor Doctor of WNY, we recognize the vital importance reading plays in education as well as recreation. The following tips are some ideas to help encourage your reluctant reader to build good reading habits. Before making any judgments as to why your child isn’t a reader, however, make sure that there isn’t an underlying issue (such as dyslexia) that is keeping your child from enjoying reading.

Your child won't be able to hide from reading with these tips! (Image Credit:

Genre, Genre, Genre

Does your child love watching The History Channel? Does he love watching Disney movies? Latching on to a specific style of storytelling that your child truly engages with is the first step to finding a book that will pique your child’s interest. Many people assume that children will automatically gravitate to fiction books, but that isn’t always the case. If your child doesn’t respond well to young adult fiction or fiction in general, try non-fiction! Ranging from autobiographies to painstakingly researched historical epics, non-fiction can appeal to children who love science, history, nature, math, or any other subject!

Get the Picture

Picture books aren’t just for kids! As kids progress from books written and illustrated for young readers to heftier chapter books, one of the biggest differences other than length is a sudden lack of visual imagery. It’s all well and good to say that children should be able to visualize the action of a story in their head, but they also say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Try finding books written for older readers that also feature lots of visual stimulation to keep your child more engaged. This may be easiest with books about science, nature, or history. The great thing about this issue is that it’s easy to figure out if a book has a lot of pictures by taking a quick flip through the pages.

Furry Friends

A pooch may be just what the doctor ordered for reluctant readers! (Image Credit:

For younger readers, silent reading may prove to be a bit of a challenge, but struggling out loud with reading in front of an audience is daunting for anyone. To keep your child practicing his reading skills without shutting down, why not bring Fido along? While there are specially trained literacy volunteer dogs (contact your local library to find out if they have any connections), you may know of a dog that fits the bill. The only real requirements for a literacy volunteer dog are to be able to sit or lay in one position for at least half an hour without falling asleep and to be kid-friendly. Literacy dogs can help increase your child’s confidence with reading out loud, as they don’t judge. It also gets your child excited about reading, as they get to read to a furry audience. To further the experience, why not try finding books about dogs? Try Harry the Dirty Dog or the amusing Walter the Farting Dog series.

Find the Right Level

Figuring out what level your child reads at is important, but not as important as finding books your child wants to read. Children can work their way through books that are above their reading level with help from someone older or a dictionary. The only thing that really matters is how interested your child is in the subject matter, and how willing he or she is to do the necessary work to understand. On the other hand, children who get easily frustrated with reading may benefit from starting at a lower level and slowly uilding their way up.

Go Ahead, Judge a Book By Its Cover!

Sometimes, choosing a book by its cover can be a detriment. For the reluctant reader, however, a knee-jerk reaction to a book cover could be the key to accessing real interest. This also gives your child autonomy over his or her reading choices, which is important in building up a life-long learner.

Plug it In

Kids report that they would read more with an e-reader. Why not try it with your child? (Image Credit:

For some kids, the appeal of an e-Reader may be enough to jar them out of a reading slump. Try it as a back-to-school gift, holiday present, or birthday surprise. To make it extra-special, why not load it up with a few books or give your child a gift card to an online book store?

While rewards may encourage your child to read, the effectiveness of rewards in the long-term is hotly debated. What are some ideas you’ve found to encourage a reluctant reader to read?


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