Many parents have children who are struggling or reluctant readers. Just like an unusual blood test can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, a reluctance to read can also be a sign of a larger issue. Discovering the reason(s) why a child doesn’t want to read can help parents address the problem effectively.
Some of the likely reasons:
- Reading is hard. Whether you suspect dyslexia (a decoding problem), ADD/ADHD (a focus problem), or sensory processing issues (a wiring problem), the key is to get solid diagnostic assistance from trained professionals. Each situation requires different interventions and support. The earlier interventions begin, the better.
See some of my previous blogs for more information.
Understanding Your Dyslexic Friend/Child/Spouse/Student
Dyslexia Presentation: A Few Facts From The Big Picture Documentary
Alleviating the Complications of Shame for Dyslexic Children
Tools and Strategies for Dealing with Dyslexia: Reading Aloud
Creative Writing and Dyslexia: A Worthwhile Challenge
Everyone Fails at First
- Reading isn’t cool. Modern society glamorizes life: things have to be bigger, better, louder, more violent or exciting, 3-D, holographic. Is it any wonder that today’s youth find reading words off a page, and using one’s own imagination to enter the story, dull by comparison? If you suspect this is part of your child’s less-than-enthusiastic response, tell them about your favorite book or story. Many of us can name a book that actually changed our life. Let your children see your enthusiasm for books and reading.
- Cultural pressure. In some realities, fewer than average people read well or seek higher education. If books and reading are not a ‘thing’ where you are from, it can feel unsettling or even disloyal for a youth to become a reader. Cultural expectation is a powerful thing. If you, as a parent, are a struggling reader, consider sharing with your children some of the ways your life would have been easier if you had abundant opportunity to improve your reading and comprehension. Speak about reading as a desirable thing in the hearing of your children.
- Other activities are more fun. If your child is more interested in his iPod, Wii, or Xbox, consider his favorite games/music as a window into current interests. Talk with him about what he likes about certain games or other entertainments. Search for books on similar topics. The Young Adult Library Services Association has many excellent recommendations on books that have shown wide appeal to other reluctant readers.
Many teachers and librarians have found my own Sir Kaye books helpful in inspiring enthusiasm in reluctant readers. Check out one of my earlier blogs to find out why:
How Heroes of Self-Reference Can Help Struggling and Dyslexic Readers
Above all, parents can help by demonstrating a love of books and reading. Share interesting gems that you have read with your kids. Read with them and to them. Get them their own library card. Buy them a special book for their own shelf. Make some time this summer to grow as readers together. Your life and your relationship with your children will be much richer because of it.