Help! My Child Doesn’t Like to Read | 123Read&Write

Improving your child's interest in reading and strategies to improve a child's reading ability, with book suggestions.

Many children who have adequate reading skills (i.e. word identification and comprehension) resist reading, because they are asked to do too little of it to reach their actual potential. The best indicator and motivator for a reluctant reader is that the act of reading is valued in the home. If a child sees his or her parents enjoying the process of reading, more often than not, the effect will trickle down.

So, what else can be done besides modeling reading in the home? At the end of the day, reading must become a satisfying activity for a child. If a child is hesitant to read an entire book, start with smaller alternatives:

  1. Short stories in print format. There are many available online such as
  2. Magazines (pick an article that may interest the child).
  3. Candy wrappers (have the child list the ingredients they actually understand).
  4. Maps (have the child look for exotic names or locations; then research a couple online).

Another step to encourage a reluctant reader is to make the reading more functional. Let's say a child has to read a chapter on geographic coordinates for homework. When they ask "Why do I need this information?" make it a real experience for them. Ask them a place they really would like to visit someday. Then pull out a map or go to Mapquest on the internet. Then, have the child research and decide the best route to get there. You can even have them research for best airline or gas prices to extend the reading level. 

How about if the child is asked to use text clues to figure out information within a story or article. This often requires the child to infer the meaning of what is written. Try using music titles in this case with clues to show the child how to infer from actual text.

Ultimately, for a reluctant reader to truly become engage in the reading process, one must help them find an appropriate book or piece of writing they can connect with. See if any of these would fit your type of child/reader.

1. Athlete

2. Struggling Reader (trouble with decoding words, etc.)

3. Performers (interested in being the center of attention)

4. Outdoors/Active

5. Hands On

In the end, encouraging a reluctant child to enjoy the act of reading, one must take into account the child's attitudes, beliefs, and interests. To do so, sometimes it's best to think outside of the box with regards to items which the child can read (i.e. baseball cards, menus, maps, candy wrappers, etc.) Remember, it's also imperative to make reading functional for the child. Find what they are interested in and guide them to reading material that matches their interests. This way, you can stimulate a child's interest by encouraging them to read for enjoyment and knowledge; thereby, enjoying the process as a whole. 


Rude, Robert T., and William J. Oehlkers. Helping Students with Reading Problems. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984. Print.