Resistant Reader? Five Tips to Encourage Young Children to Embrace Reading

Any parent, caregiver, or teacher can tell you that young learners develop reading skills—and a connection to reading—at their own pace. But what about those "resistant readers" who have yet to develop a love of books?

In a recent professional learning webinar I discussed creative ways to encourage Pre-K through Grade 2 children to embrace reading, Here are five of my favorites.

Grin and Bear It

Everyone in the classroom (or bedroom) can practically recite the story of Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, or another classic by heart, yet it remains at the top of the most requested list. I always say read it again...and again. Letting a child choose the story is an important part of developing an affinity for books. There's something about that book that's comforting or interesting, so use the opportunity to ask why it's so appealing! There is real value in repeated reading, too , as it's a great way to move from listening to really thinking about the story.

Be a Role Model

Young children like to feel part of the group and will model others' behavior. Set aside quiet time for family reading. Whether it's a newspaper, a magazine, a novel—even a comic book—it signals that reading is an important and enjoyable activity. And you can start to make a dent in that pile of magazines or unread books on your nightstand!

Sprinkle It In

I like to suggest thinking beyond the traditional page-turner to consider activities where reading is part of the larger experience. For slightly older children, a trip to the grocery store can become a treasure hunt—the clues are your list of food items to pick up. Cooking or baking is another great way to incorporate reading, by following along with the recipe or relaying the steps to the cook.

Put on a Show

Putting developing skills on display is a fun approach to encourage reading aloud for kids. Record children reading a story so they can take pride in their progress. Or consider a Skype call with grandparents or other family members. It's a great for reinforcing positive feelings and another step toward raising children who embrace reading.

Build Stamina

Attention spans vary—so should dedicated times for reading. It's okay to start small and build up as interest and abilities grow. Incremental sessions build reading stamina and allow children to feel like they have some control over the situation. Reading shouldn't feel like a chore. I like to also cite one of my favorite strategies—putting off bedtime for a few more minutes—as long as you're reading instead! Like most things, everything is more fun when we do it together. I hope these tips will help engage and entertain the most resistant readers!

Do you have thoughts on how to encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book? We'd love to hear from you!

Curious to learn more?

Francie Alexander is a Chief Academic Officer at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and author of over 50 children's books. Her webinar, Books Matter: Getting Children to Love Reading, is available for viewing online.

For additional tips from Francie on encouraging reluctant readers, read her post on curiousworld.com