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Help! My child doesn't want to read!

Motivating reluctant readers

Part One

One of the best pieces of advice I was given before getting married was ‘choose your battles’ – the point being that certain issues are not worth arguing or ‘falling out’ over. Some, on the other hand, are ones where you should strongly consider standing your ground.

When it comes to children lacking motivation or being indifferent towards reading, as caring parents, this is a battle we must surely be prepared to fight.

Here are four hard hitting consequences of poor reading ability:

1. A constant struggle with learning across key areas of the curriculum. Maths, Science, English, History, etc all require a good level of reading competency.

2. Likely exam failure or under achievement if the reading issue is not addressed.

3. Poverty and unemployment can be the consequence of such poor educational outcomes.

4. Low self esteem and long-term emotional scarring.

This is indeed a stark picture and worst case scenario but is based on plenty of good research.

Fortunately, the good news is that for the vast majority it’s not too late. They can do well with their learning at school, they can be successful in their exams, and they can get fulfilling work. There are many ways to help the struggling reader and this blog over the next couple of months will put forward ideas, tips, and advice for caring parents on how to help transform your child’s reading at home.

I’d like to start with the whole issue of motivation. Like an oil tanker static in the water sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get them moving!

Here are 4 ideas that should help to get them moving:


Create a cosy little place especially for reading. If your child is creative, engage them in the design and where it might go in your home. It could be a small tent set up in their bedroom, a Reading Nook that can be bought online or anything in between. You know your child, your home and your finances – so find your best solution! Make it a cool place to go and read, set up some guidelines about how it’s to be used and you could be on the way to having a more motivated child. The key will be that your child has ‘ownership’ of their reading zone (or whatever it’s called!).


Read to them. Read to them. Read to them.

Honestly, I can’t say this enough times. Reading to your children can inspire them, introduce them to wonderful stories and writers and give them a love of books. Read with passion, expression and try to bring the characters to life. Make this reading time a special time and a regular time your children can look forward to. You’ll quickly get to know the kind of stories they like and they may even keep choosing the same story over and over (this is especially true of younger ones.


Tweet an author.

This is probably more suited to KS2 children. Thanks to social media, we now have the luxury of being able to access many more authors. Encourage your child to ask a question about a book or story they are familiar with. A positive response may just be what your child needs to spark their interest.


Family reading time

Try to set up a routine that suits your family. When your reluctant reader sees you or a brother or sister reading, they’ll be more inclined to pick up a book too. Choose a time each day or even once or twice a week. Curl up on the couch, hang out in the garden or lounge on some bean bags while you gather the family for reading time. Establishing a routine around reading will make it second nature for kids to pick up a book and feel like they’re part of something important.

Our family reading time is snuggling up in bed before the children go to sleep. I usually read a chapter or two from one of the many short chapter books I bought while teaching Y3. Currently my two children love 100 mile an hour dog stories by Jeremy Strong.

That’s it for now. Why don’t you try putting one or two of these strategies into action.?

Next time in Part Two, we’ll look at things we can SAY to the reluctant reader, think about the kind of books that just might help with motivation and we’ll ‘dip in’ to the kind of rewards that just might get your reluctant reader ‘over the line’.

Did you know?

Sharpway Tutoring has not one, not two but THREEonline courses especially for parents who want to help transform their children’s reading at home. Great value for money.

If you want to try a mini course for FREE, then click here:

In addition, you can subscribe to my You Tube channel here:

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