5 Ways To Encourage A Reluctant Reader

Got a reluctant reader at home? That can be cured...you just have to use these 5 tips from Dr. Kay MacPhee...!


Every child learns to read at their own pace. Some children are reluctant to read because of lack of interest, frustration with learning to read, or even a negative experience. With time, consistent practice, and support, they can learn to love reading. These six tips will help to encourage your reluctant reader:

Turn Reading Into A Game:

After reading a story at your child’s reading level, use some of the words from that story to help your child build a basic word vocabulary. Write down these sight words on index cards. They can be used to play a game like Memory or you can even shuffle the cards and play a game of ‘Go Fish’. These activities can be used with the alphabet, too! Ooka Island uses game-based learning and interactive game to encourage reluctant readers.

Read At Bedtime:

A reluctant reader likely sees reading as work since they haven’t yet mastered the learning-to-read skills. Try not to bring homework books into the bedtime reading routine rather, use it as a time to relax and take pleasure from the joy of a good story. This may be the perfect opportunity to introduce your child to different genres since you will be the reader.

Be Open To All Texts:

Comics, magazines, instructional booklets all count as reading. In fact, these types of texts develop a different, and often a more complex, set of skills than traditional texts! Reluctant readers may be more likely to give reading a chance if they are able to choose topics and reading materials they are interested in.

Give Them Permission To Give Up:

If your child doesn’t like the text, and it’s not a matter of the book being too difficult, teach them how long to persevere until switching to a different book. We recommend reading the first few pages before abandoning a book.

Teach Them How To Choose A Just Right Book:

Showing your child how to prequalify a book for independent reading helps to reduce their chances of abandoning it. Demonstrate looking at the cover of the book and flipping through the pages to see if the topic looks interesting. Once a book passes that test, early readers can then start reading the first few pages. If they come across more than 3 words in the first page (or two depending on the length of the text) then the book is likely too hard for them to read on their own. Put it aside to read together or tell them to bring it home from school to read at bedtime!


Dr Kay MacPhee is a literacy expert, reading researcher and lifelong educator.  As co-founder and director of learning and research at Ooka Island, her knowledge, passion and commitment has helped over 25,000 children and adults  learn how to read.

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