6 Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader

Help your Reluctant Reader

Some children take to reading really quickly and love it almost instantly. Others are less motivated and seem to take an instant dislike to reading.  So what can you do as a parent to help a reluctant reader?  How can you best support them and ensure that they learn to read as quickly as possible and more importantly that they start to enjoy reading. 


My eldest has always found reading interesting and was motivated to learn.  My younger son finds it harder.  He doesn’t like and is aware that he is struggling which has affected his confidence and willingness to try.  This leaves me with a child who need to practice his reading more to succeed, but who is a reluctant reader. 

We have had such trouble getting him to sit down and read and even when he does he quickly loses interest and starts to mess around which causes me to become frustrated.  The last thing I want is a battle ground about something that is so important to his education and learning so I have been researching and thinking of ways to help a reluctant reader.  If this sounds familiar then I hope that this post will help.  I am not an expert and do not have a background in children’s education, but I do have a reluctant reader and have been using these techniques to help him.

ways to help a reluctant reader6 Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader


    • Start with texts that are perhaps below their ability so that they see that they can do it
    • Praise and reassure often when you are reading

    • Take it in turns with reading a line or alternate words.  I have found that because this seemingly makes it easier he puts in more effort on the words or lines that he has to read

    • We were trying to read every day and so were forcing it into the schedule and often reading when he was just exhausted and so instead I have agreed a schedule with him.  We now read on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.  These days are non negotiable, but he knows when it is coming and so is prepared and ready 

    • Find a subject that piques the child’s interest.  I have bought some books that he will love which I read to him just so that he starts to see that reading = fun.  These books are too hard for him to read himself, but my theory is that if he is wanting me to read and wanting to know what it says on the page he will become more motivated to learn as he will see reading as having a positive benefit
    • Find books that a reluctant reader can read and will want to read.  This might be something about dinosaurs or space or whatever interests your child.  My son loves lego and superheroes so the DK early reader series are fantastic for him.   We do still have to read the school texts which are not fun, but then the reward is also reading about ninjas

  • USE ALTERNATIVE MEDIUMS – it doesn’t have to be books!

    • @emptynestmummy suggested writing cheeky messages on the chalk board.  I know this works for my reluctant reader;  if it is about poo he will want to read it!!
    • Try comics.  We are using these an alternative to more formal books as the images are more engaging
    • If a reluctant reader likes using technology like mine then maybe try a reading app.  I like Read with Phonics.  My son also likes to play xbox games and he is allowed to use the xbox on a Friday.  We encourage him to read the on screen instructions.  He is motivated to do that as he wants to progress through the game.  In my opinion reading is reading!

    • If a reluctant reader is lacking in confidence I think this can help.  You can pick a really easy text for them and let them essentially show off their skills.  

Motivate a reluctant reader

If you have a reluctant reader I hope these ideas will help you.,  I know it is so frustrating when they are seemingly not making progress and I sometimes get irritated, but it is important to remain calm and be positive.  Get yourself a big glass of wine as a reward afterwards!!  Reading is the basis of all learning really so as parents we just have to grit our teeth and keep reading about Biff, Chip and Kipper until our heads hurt 😉 

As caveat I would also recommend talking to their teachers and ruling out learning difficulties such as Dyslexia.  We have agreed the reading schedule and our approach to help our reluctant reader with the class teacher so we are all on the same page.  There is still much work to do to foster a love of reading with this little lovely, but I think these techniques are working.

29 thoughts on “6 Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader”

  1. It’s funny, but our younger one, a boy, never lioked reading … but is an excelent reader and speller!!! He follows sport on the net and snapchats away … but a book!!! He liked Diary of a wimpy kid, and that was about it!!! We tried the library and all that, but after so many unread books, abandonded the idea!! #DReamTeam

  2. I had three bookworms and one reluctant reader, so i was really caught off guard. the thing that worked for us was biographies. it turns out He had no interest in reading stories that were not true!

    1. That is interesting as I have also heard that boys often respond better to factual books so we are also trying those. Thanks for the tip. #DreamTeam

  3. These are great tips for all young readers, not just the reluctant ones! READING WITH 2 OF MY GRANDSONS NOW. HOPE THEY ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS I DO! 🙂

  4. From a teacher this is spot on Kirsty!
    My child was a reluctant reader until she was 7 when she Discovered jacqueline Wilson. Then, she was away. Her undertsanding of what she was reading was always behind her decoding skills so she just didnt eNjoy it.that is key btw -dont push children on to books that are past their developmental level. Many children could decode the bible but they wouldnt have a clue what it was on about! My daughter got a “b’ at English lit a level But she didnt really read books until she was 7 or 8. There is no rush. Howevwr, ifyour child is reluctant, then these tips are good. Sometimes they are reluctant because there is an issue so my adVice would be to get their eyes tested. A great app for all children (although it is for dyslexic ChildRen) is Nessy. It builds up reading and spelling together. #dreamteam

  5. Great post and great ideas kirsty! I wouldn’t be a massive fan of comics and impoverished comic language but there are some better register ones such as Asterix – though not sure if your son is too young for this #dreamteam

    1. There are comics specifically aimed at those learning to read and they seem to be ok. However, at this point I just want him to understand that reading can be fun so I’ll take all and any engagement


  7. There are some helpful tips here. making it fun, setting aside regular time one on one and making it fun are all really useful ways of tackling this issue x #dreamteam

  8. i think as you say finding fun texts or something that will interest them is key. i am a huge bookworm but struggle being told what to read,which is why i’d be rubbish with a book club or anything like that #dreamteam

    1. I am hoping my twins love it like my eldest son as I am not sure I will be able to give this level of support to two of them at the same time. My middle son had best never pull the middle child card with all the hours that have been devoted to this 😉 Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam

  9. Pingback: 10 ways for Helping kids learn to read as a parent - Navigating Baby

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