What to do with a reluctant reader

Some students tend to put up a struggle when they are asked to spend time reading. Has this ever happened with one of your students? They resist reading when asked, they don’t volunteer to read, they shun the 20-minutes per night recommended reading, and they might tend to gravitate to screens instead (TV, movies, games, tables, etc.).

This struggle keeps your students from enjoying reading, and what’s worse, keeps them from practicing reading and getting better. There’s no avoiding reading in this world, and life is a lot easier when students can draw from a toolbox of reading skills.

If any of this sounds like someone in your family, here are a few ideas to consider.

You must win

If you have a strong-willed child, it’s going to be frustrating, but there are certain battles that you MUST win. No questions asked. And reading is one of them. It’s got to be on your student’s to do list every school night, and he must not think it’s ever optional or something he can argue his way out of. It’s too important to skip and your student is running out of runway. There’s only one more year before your student takes flight into middle school. Now’s the time to boost reading levels before things start moving really fast in 6th grade.

Make it a habit

So the first step would be to add a 20-minute block of reading. I think before bed is a great time to do this. Fifth graders are not too old to read to sometimes, or to have them read aloud to parents. But a lot of the time students should read by themselves. If you’re not sure your student is  reading, then at the end of the time, look over the pages they read and ask a few questions.

If it’s clear they are not reading, just fake reading, then I guess they need to read aloud to a parent for 20 minutes every night until you can trust them. It might be a pain and it will take up some time you could be doing something else. But this will help build a habit and show you mean business. Another way to do this would be to have your student read into a voice recorder or a cell phone app that is recording their voice so that you know they’re reading.

What to read?

Anything that your student chooses and fits their reading level. If she doesn’t have ideas, you could suggest things.

Create a love of reading

Reading should be fun. People naturally love stories. We love movies. We should love books. Maybe your student just needs to be shown this. One way to start is to choose an interesting book and read it together every day for 10-15 minutes. You could read it aloud and she would follow along. You could show your enthusiasm and read it in an interesting way. Stop to ask questions or show your curiosity (what do you think will happen next? will they catch the bad guy? I can’t believe they stole the jewel! etc.). When she sees you having fun, she’ll have fun and that will make her like reading more.

Trading books for screens

But if you need something with rewards and consequences, here’s an idea that uses tokens to trade reading for TV/game time:

He, too, is a parent and he, too, has tried to limit his kids’ access to their devices and to increase their reading.

To do this, he and his wife devised a token system. They created various ways of earning tokens, and allow those tokens to be redeemed for money or for screen time. The kids have various ways to earn those tokens and two ways to spend them.

The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week. These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week, adding up to $5 or five hours of screen time a week. If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token, which could also be traded in for screen time or for money. The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90 percent, reading went up by the same amount, and the overall effort we had to put into policing the system went way, way down.

The idea is from this article.

Your student might really fight this at first. Especially if their screen time is being reduced a lot. But it would be tangible and directly tie actions to consequences. After a while, your student would get used to trading reading time for media time.
This method would also address outright refusal to read. Once your student uses up all their tokens, their computer/game/TV time is gone for the rest of the week. Their options are to read, or play, but no media. Hopefully at that point they would choose to start reading. Combined with a family story being read with you, I think this would “force” your student to see the light-that reading can and is fun.

If the a student was really stubborn and still found ways to avoid reading, as a parent, I think you would have to step in and read to your student for the 20-minutes they were supposed to read. But of course, that would reduce your time by 20-minutes each night. Love and Logic would say that you would have less time and energy for your own chores, so your student would have to pick up the slack. You read for them, they wash the dishes, vacuum, take out the trash, and other things that you just didn’t have the time and energy to get to because you were using your time reading to them when they could be reading themselves. I bet your student would get the picture pretty quickly.

Hopefully these ideas work; here they are in a nutshell:

  • Insist on 20 minutes reading before bed each night
  • Read an interesting book together (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a good choice)
  • Implement a token system, if needed, to trade reading books for media time.

Originally posted 2014-09-09 17:36:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

  • Both comments and trackbacks are currenlty open for this entry.
  • Trackback URI:
    Warning: Use of undefined constant display - assumed 'display' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/mrhowdco/public_html/wp-content/themes/orangesky/single.php on line 49
    https://www.mrhowd.com/2021/01/27/what-to-do-with-a-reluctant-reader/trackback/
  • Comments RSS 2.0

Leave a Reply