Reading is one of those critical skills kids simply can’t avoid for long. And when you have a reluctant reader, the pressure to find something, anything, age-appropriate that she’ll read can be intense. Here are some suggestions, and a few practical recommendations to get these kids reading.
Find the way in.
What does your child love? What’s his passion? That’s your way in. If you kid is crazy about hockey, find a biography of his favorite player or a novel about the sport, or even an encyclopedia of facts about the game. If she wants to be a veterinarian, look for books about caring for animals, books about training animals, books about kids who want to be vets, magazines about animals — you get the idea. Find the way in with material that interests your child, and you may find success.
Found a book you know your kid will love, if he’d just read it? Try letting him hear the first chapter or two as an audiobook. By then, he’ll be hooked on the story and he’ll want to go on — but he’ll have to read it to do that. (Most libraries have terrific audiobook collections, and your library will probably let you borrow volumes from other branches in your network. Ask your librarian for details.)
Institute family reading time.
Set aside a specific time for reading for the entire family. Right after dinner is a great time. Mom or Dad can read to the youngest kids, and everyone else can sit quietly with a book, magazine, or newspaper. Have kid and adult dictionaries nearby so that people can look up words on their own as necessary. Set a microwave timer for 20 minutes so that the kids know there’s an end time in sight. Then, just read.
The Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney are hugely popular with kids, even those who turn up their noses at other books. You may hate these books, but reading is reading. Other great choices to try:
Flush by Carl Hiaasen, a story about kids uncovering and working to fight against pollution.
Grossology by Sylvia Branzei, all about everything gross. Kids love this. And unless you like the gross stuff too, leave this one to the kiddos.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, about an ordinary kid from New York who struggles in school and suffers from ADHD — and then finds out he’s the son of one of the Greek gods. Bonus: it’s the first in a series, so if your child enjoys it, you’ve got a hook!
Take the time to speak with your local children’s librarian. They generally have excellent suggestions and can tailor a reading list to your child’s interests.