My child is a reluctant reader who only chooses shorter books. What can I do?
Big, thick books can be really intimidating for some readers. Pages seem to stretch endlessly ahead with no end in sight.
Two simple tips can help reluctant readers develop the stamina to read longer books; post-it notes and and/or use of an e-reader.
The post-it fix:
The post-it fix is easy and works beautifully. Take two post-it notes. Write the word START on one note and STOP on the other note. Place the START note on the first page that will be read with the word poking above the page like a bookmark. Let your child decide how many pages they will read. Have your child count X number of pages from START and then place the STOP post-it note on that page. The child reads the selected number of pages, stopping when they get to the STOP post-it. Now a decision can be made. If your child is ready to stop reading, simply stop and use the post-it note as a bookmark for where the reading was stopped. Next time your child begins a reading session, have them switch the STOP note with the START note. Then your child can count ten more pages or whatever number of pages your child chooses. Choice is key to the success of this technique.
Why this works so well:
- Children like to feel like they have choice. This strategy provides choice and this is especially true for reluctant readers..
- Having a limited number of pages makes the task achievable. Success breeds willingness and promotes reading growth.
- Children take responsibility and set their own achievable goals without parents or teachers’ intervention. (Note: If your child has to read a certain number of pages for an assignment, this strategy can be done in smaller sessions so the goal is achieved over a longer period of time. Your child can read ten pages, do another task, then return to read ten more pages, continuing until the assignment is complete.)
- Even the most reluctant readers usually experience reading success with a short number of pages they select.
The e-book fix:
In this case, e-reader means any electronic device on which a book can be read. This could be a dedicated e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook, a tablet such as an ipad, a smart phone, laptop or desktop. The child can decide on a certain number of pages that will be read or will set a timer to read for a specific amount of time. When the pages are read or the timer goes off, the reading is complete unless your child chooses to continue.
Why this works so well:
- Your child gets to choose
- There are no thick pages to agonize over having to read.
- Without a book cover to be observed, others will not know what is being read and the child can read books at their own ability without fear of embarrassment or ridicule.
- Your child can customize the reading experience based on their personal preferences. These include font, size, brightness and orientation, amount of space between lines and how the reading progress is displayed (page number, location etc.) Your child can also look up unknown words, highlight passages or annotate easily, things good readers do naturally.
How you can support your blossoming reader
- Your child is looking to you for acceptance and gentle support. What you say and how you react to the books your child chooses can make a huge difference in their self-confidence, which is directly connected with reading success and satisfaction. Be thoughtful and supportive when your child:
- chooses a book that you think might be too easy, short, etc.
- reads another book in a series (this is actually a good thing!)
- rereads a favorite book (actually another thing to encourage)
- sets their own goals for pages read
- Children like to see you walk the walk. If you want your child to be a reader, they need to also see you reading.
You can support your growing reader in developing reading stamina by taking a more relaxed and strategic role in their reading development using the strategies detailed above. Questions? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And happy reading to you.