The best way to improve reading skills is by doing just that…reading. However, what can we do for children who are resistant to reading? How can we help them improve their skills when they simply do not want to read because it’s difficult or they’re not engaged? Sometimes our reluctant readers can be the hardest to reach.
4 Tips to Motivate Reluctant Readers
1. Go digital.
Whether it’s on paper or on a screen, reading text is still reading. Allow your students to read on tablets or phones. For many reluctant readers, this makes reading seem like less of a chore. Devices have so many tools to engage with text through highlighting, looking up words, tagging text, and even interactive videos and additional resources. Check out Project Gutenberg and Amazon for free e-books appropriate for various grade and reading levels. Most public libraries have e-book checkout systems available, as well.
2. Try a graphic novel.
Graphic novels aren’t just picture books. Adding a visual element to rich narrative writing can make reading more engaging. Often, struggling readers are missing the strategy that helps them visualize what they are reading. Previously, books with pictures to help stories come to life did not have appropriate content for middle elementary-aged students. Often, they were geared towards K-2 interests. Now, with the popularity of graphic novels, these gorgeous images complement enticing writing, which is a win for teachers who want their students to experience challenging reading and for students who want to see what’s going on in picture form!
3. See the film after reading the book.
Encourage your students to read books that are also in film form. After reading the book, students can earn a “reward” of seeing the movie. A bonus for this tip is that students can also compare and contrast the book and the movie. Which did they like better? Why? That deeper analysis is another strategy to get reluctant readers to talk about what they’re reading and watching!
4. Read before bedtime.
When reading becomes a homework assignment, it can be seen as another task to cross off the never-ending list of chores, assignments, and to-dos. When reading becomes part of the bedtime routine, however, it can become as normal as brushing teeth or putting on pajamas. Encourage parents to read high-interest materials before bed with their children. It doesn’t matter what it is. Read a magazine, several pages of a chapter book, or a travel brochure. The point is to make it part of their day and get them reading.
Encouraging reading is an important part of a classroom teacher’s job, but sometimes our students can struggle to enjoy what comes naturally to others. Reading doesn’t have to be a chore. Share these four tips to motivate reluctant readers with parents and students to make reading fun and something your students will learn to love! If you need tips on helping struggling readers, check out my Reading Intervention Ideas.