Have a Kid Who Doesn’t Want to Read?

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Your life by Cece Meng

So, your kid doesn’t want to read on his own. That’s actually a common problem, so common that those kids have their own name. They are “reluctant readers.” We have a lot of reluctant readers come into our library. They have to read for school. They have to read books that are a certain level. But, they just don’t want to do it. Here’s my advice if you are faced with a reluctant reader of your own at home.

#1. Bring your child to the library. We have so many books that surely something will match your child’s interest. Also, you can check out up to 50 books at a time. That means that your child can check out multiple books, which will increase the odds that he will find one to finish at home. I see many kids fighting with their parents about books at the library. Send that kid to a children’s librarian. We are not his parent. He’s not going to fight with us. We are skilled at talking with kids about books and figuring out what kind of book they really want to read. We know all the books that are out there, and we will make sure your child leaves with something in his hand.

#2. Allow your child to read non-fiction. Many reluctant readers will not sit through a Hardy Boys book, but they’ll memorize every fact about sharks in a non-fiction book. At my branch in Canyon Country, we have a lot of kiddos who are tested through Accelerated Reader at their school. More often than not, kids go to the fiction section to find their AR books. There are tons of books that can be tested on in the non-fiction section as well. There are even graphic novels that can be tested on. Why not help your child find a book he’s really, really interested in to help increase his chances of acing his reading quiz?

#3. Let your kid read for fun. Not every book has to be a school book. Not every book has to be at their level. If they want to read a picture book, don’t tell them it’s a baby book. It’s not going to hurt them to take 5 minutes of the day to read a book below their level. If the book level is too high for them, don’t discourage them. Offer to help them with difficult words. Don’t lead your kids to believe that they should only read when it assigned to them. Reading should be an everyday part of life.

#4. SERIES, SERIES, SERIES. I take all my kiddos who don’t want to find a book for school to the series section of the library. In the series, you will find a lot of popular books. I know we like to tell our children not to always follow the crowd, but, if your kid is against reading, it will probably be helpful to show him what’s popular with other children. Books that are dated and difficult to read would not be highly recommended for a child who does not want to read. The series section offers a wide variety of types of books. There are humor, adventure, mystery, fantasy, historical, horror, and slice of life books. I love reluctant readers to find a series book they like because it makes it much more likely that they will read more of the series once they are done with that book. That makes your job much easier when it comes time to find another book for school. If you can get your kid to finish “The Bad Beginning,” which is the first book in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, that child could possibly go on to read all 13 books in the series. That’s a lot of fighting that you do not have to have with your child about book choices.

Here are some series that I recommend for reluctant readers:

2nd – 3rd Grade:

–          Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, Geronimo Stilton, George Brown, Class Clown,  Timewarp Trio

4th – 5th Grade:

–          Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Big Nate, Goosebumps, Percy Jackson, I Survived, Series of Unfortunate Events, Shark Wars

Series section at Canyon Country

Series section at Canyon Country

#5. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. This is my last bit of advice. Don’t lead your child to believe that he is the only one in the house that has to read books. You should be reading too, and you should let your child see you read. Maybe set aside 30 minutes every day as reading time with your child. Don’t read to him if he has to read on his own for school but read your own book next to him. You can call it your own little book club. Let him know that you enjoy reading too and a love of reading is something you want to share with him. If you’re consistent, I am sure you will find it easier dealing with all your child’s required reading.


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Miss Angie

I am a children's librarian at SCPL's Canyon Country Library. My favorite things are funny books, ice cream, and the Matterhorn at Disneyland.

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