Monday, January 28, 2013

Tough Love For Reluctant Readers

Everyone knows that reading to children and with children is good for them. It helps builds relationships simply because you are spending time together. It helps children build logical thinking skills, a better understanding of vocabulary, and helps learning in general. After all, how are children supposed to excel at subjects like math or science, which are much more difficult, if they haven't mastered basic reading skills? Reading helps build children's confidence and self esteem; and as they learn to read on their own, it unlocks their potential. Reading expands children's knowledge of the world around them. In short, Reading with your children is the key to their future success!

But what do you do if you have a child that is a reluctant reader? What if you have a child that says they don't like to read or is discouraged because they have not easily mastered the art of reading? Tough love my friends, tough love. You require them to read anyways. We all have to do things in this life that we don't necessarily want to do and none of us are destroyed by the process. I personally don't like to empty the trash or do the dishes, but I do both of these chores on a regular basis because I have a sense of responsibility to my family and because I really don't like to eat off of paper plates.

Now I am not saying that you bully them into reading; but since practice does indeed  make perfect, you do need to insist that they read. One good way to encourage a reluctant reader to read without making it seem like a punishment is to have a reward system. A type of reward system that seems to work well is a reading chart where the child receives a sticker for every book they successfully complete. Once a certain number of stickers have been obtained, let's say ten for example, the child is then given a small reward like a trip to the park, a backyard picnic, a pack of their favorite gum, or an ice cream cone.

I know from personal experience that it is never to late to help a child with poor reading skills. I know this because when my sister's children were in seventh and ninth grade both were having trouble with reading. They could barely read and what they could read was usually not comprehended. My sister, who was a single mom, pulled them out of public school, and I began to help her home school them. I kept the girls during the day while she worked and took on the more difficult subjects like vocabulary, spelling, writing, science, math, Spanish, poetry, and history; and when she was home, she wrapped up with home economics, physical education, home maintenance, and literature. Now I am not suggesting that you pull reluctant readers out of school, my sister did so for a multitude of reasons, but you can follow the most important step behind my teaching method and that is to make your child read everything.

I required my nieces to read literally everything. I made them read their science and history out loud. I required them to read all directions for homework out loud. I required them to write out each vocabulary word's meaning, use them properly in a sentence, and you guessed it, read them out loud. My sister followed suite by selecting wonderful classics for the children's to read for literature class. During the first year that we did this there was much grumbling and complaining but also much delight as they watched their sticker chart fill and were rewarded accordingly. By the time that first year was up, they had mastered reading and writing skills so well that I entered them both in a local writing contest for children in grades six to twelve.

Needless to say, you can well imagine our surprise to find that they younger girl had won first place and the older had won runner up. To this very day the older of my nieces continues to say what a hard taskmaster I was but how grateful she is that I demanded more from her. She is now a mom herself and has taught her son how to read well which was no easy matter since he had several learning delays. So don't be discouraged with your reluctant reader; be firm and require lots and lots of reading despite any grumbling because it will pay off in the long run.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!


  1. Once again, Miss Aileen, you have given sound advice for all parents and their reluctant young reader. Tough love helps a child grow and flourish.

  2. Thanks Kathy. I always appreciate your comments and the fact that you read my posts!