3 Ways to Motivate Reluctant Readers

What is a reluctant reader? Well, You’re probably thinking of kids that really don’t want to put forth the effort to read books!

And, you are probably on this page because you know a child that doesn’t really like to read and you hope to inspire them to read more.  So… let me start with a story.

The other day a friend of mine called and asked for a book suggestion for a grandson. Her grandson used to read a lot, but lately he hasn’t really been interested in reading novels or stories. He is interested in learning to play the guitar, though. So, I suggested a book about guitars.

What my friend said next really got me thinking. She didn’t want a book about guitars, she wanted a story book. She wanted him to read for the sake of reading.

So, why do we want our kids to read? We know the importance of reading for our children’s success. But, again, why do we want our kids to read?

Reading is a skill we need to succeed in life, but that doesn’t mean reading novels and loving to curl up with a story is a skill we need to succeed in life.

Let me explain with an analogy. I think that being able to cook a simple nutritous meal is an important life skill, but I don’t expect my kids to become chefs. I also think that driving a car safely is an important life skill, but I don’t expect my kids to become race car drivers.

So, what does this have to do with reading? Well, I want my children to be able to read well enough that they can read textbooks and understand them. I want them to be able to read road signs, applications, and websites. I want them to be able to comprehend what they read and use the information they read to learn and develop their abilities and interests.

In short, I want them to have the life skill of reading, but if they never fall in love with reading for fun (or never become that chef or race car driver in my analogy) I’m fine with that.

From Reluctant Reader to Skilled Reader

Think about what they are already reading. Do they like to read websites about things they are interested in? Do they like to blog? Do they read the newspaper? Do they read up on the latest sports team? Do they like to help you cook?

In all those situations they are reading. There are so many everyday activities where kids can read (and write for that matter). Browse through this list of reading activities pages and you may be surprised how much your reluctant reader is really reading!

Make sure you start with your child’s interests. Whether it’s pirates, princesses, computers or cats! Find books, websites, and magazines, that will help them learn more about their interests.

Reading really can be turned into drudgery when you are reading something you’re just not interested in reading. Don’t mistakenly turn your kids off to reading, by thinking that only novels “count” as reading.

Nowhere have I found any research that says that only reading stories or novels will increase your child’s reading ability. In fact the opposite is true. Experts encourage you to read everywhere!

If they don’t really have an interest that is pulling them into books and reading right now, then try starting with interactive books. They are more like a game or a puzzle. These interactive books for reluctant readers were created by a reluctant reader! Also, try instructional books like craft books and how-to books that require them to read and follow (or comprehend) instructions.

Start helping your reluctant reader, by (1) looking over the reading activities for ideas and then (2) check out the interactive books page, and lastly (3) find a book about something they are interested in over at Better Children’s Books.


Shelley Nash is the owner of Better Children’s Books and is a book lover and homeschool mom to five little ones.

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