My child hates reading – What can I do?

Some parents report that their child hates reading. It can really upset parents because they know the importance of reading.  Parents want to foster a love of reading so their child can enjoy all that reading has to offer, such as building vocabulary and knowledge about how books work!
If your child hates reading stories or says, “this is boring” every time you open a book, here are five secret ways guaranteed to help build up a love of reading for even the most reluctant readers.

Secret 1: You don’t need to read all the words 

Yes, you read that right! When reading books with your child, it can be just as beneficial to talk about what’s happening in the pictures or make up stories on your own. You talk through each picture together and ask questions like “What does this mean?” or “What do you think will happen next?”. These question types give them an opportunity for active involvement. This builds their interest in becoming active listeners who want, more than anything else, meaningful connections between themselves and other people around them (and thusly improves empathy). This is so important, especially for children who hate reading!

Once your child shows some engagement with the pictures, you can refer to words in the text that match the pictures they are interested in. This can help them see that books help printed words come alive and have meaning. You can also play word games where they have to be the fastest to find the main character’s name on each page.

Secret 2: Get active!

Maybe your child hates reading because they don’t want to sit still. We often think of reading as a quiet time activity, but if your child finds it tricky to sit still, this doesn’t need to be the case!

Encourage your child to act out what’s happening in the story (either with their own body, or with toys) and play along with them – every game is more fun when the adults join in!

In the book “Dear Zoo”, you can practise roaring like a lion, jumping like a frog, slithering like a snake, or swinging like a monkey. This is a great way to build your child’s engagement with books and may also help you get some sneaky extra steps up on the side!

Secret 3: Go digital

While there’s nothing quite like a good paperback or hardcover book, technology has come a long way in storytelling. There are several digital options if your child hates reading print books. YouTube has read-along or animated videos for a range of picture books, which can not only make book reading more engaging for kids, but can also expand your library of picture books (for free!).

There are also other free online resources (like Storyline Online) or paid options (like Vooks) for book reading, so there’s an option available for you, no matter your budget.

Secret 4: Shared Reading

Shared book reading is a great way to build up your child’s language and literacy skills, especially if they hate reading!  Shared reading can be done individually at home with your child or at a whole class level.  A speech pathologist can also use this reading strategy with a small group of clients with the same reading goals. The adult leads the shared reading session and uses a variety of reading strategies to help the child develop the Big Six of Reading skills. Shared reading can effectively improve reading skills, as it allows the group to learn from each other and gain different perspectives on the material.

Remember that there’s no such thing as a “wrong” way to read together, as long as you’re both having fun!

Secret 5: Choose books at their level

If your child hates reading, it’s important to find books at a reading level that they can handle. Decodable books can be a great way to build your child’s reading skills. Once they see that they can read, they can build their confidence. This can help them to become more interested in reading. Plus, it helps reinforce their phonics skills. If you’re unsure what reading level your child is at, you can always ask their teacher or a speech pathologist for help. They will be able to assess your child’s reading level and recommend the best books for them.

These five secrets to get your kids engaged in reading may sound like a lot of work, but it will be worth seeing them love books as much as you do. And if you need help, we’re always here. If your child has trouble reading, book in for an assessment or our Sounds Write For Literacy groups so kids can learn phonics to build their reading skills systematically. For more information, contact us.

Written by Julie Sexton, Senior Speech Pathologist and CEO of TalkHQ

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