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Resources for Reluctant Readers

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Book cover of Guinness World Records 2012

Book of World Records

Guinness World Records

What Is A Reluctant Reader?

What exactly is a reluctant reader? There are several different types according to the experts. They include: children who are intelligent and interested in reading, but don't read well; children who seem to have no interest and, as a result of not reading regularly, are falling, or at risk of falling, behind; and children who are dealing with specific learning problems that impede their ability, and willingness, to read. Then, there is the most frustrating type of all: the child who reads well but has little interest in doing so. If your child is a reluctant reader, whether a second grader, a sixth grader or a high school student, what can you do to encourage him, or her, to read? Fortunately, there are a number of resources that are available to assist you.

Reading Aloud

Since the only way most children can get to be good readers is to read regularly, it is important to encourage your child to read from the beginning. Joyce Melton Pagés, Ed.D, provides some helpful learning tips, including setting up a home library, reading aloud to your child and using poetry.

The importance of reading aloud cannot be overemphasized. By reading aloud to your children, you are emphasizing the joy of reading, introducing them to new vocabulary words and ideas, expanding their knowledge, and learning more about their interests. Often, hearing a story can pique a child's interest in learning more by reading independently. At some point, you might pick books at, not above, your child's reading level, and take turns reading portions aloud to one another. For more information about reading aloud and good books to read aloud, I recommend The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

Parents As Reading Role Models

The most important role a parent or other caring adult can play is as a good role model. It's hard for a children to believe in the importance of reading if there are few books in the home, they never see their parents reading, and they never go to the library. Reading for enjoyment is not enjoyable for children if they are forced to read. It's important to help your children find books at the appropriate reading level on subjects that interest them. Once you find books, you can pique your children's interest by reading the first chapter to them. You might also want to take turns reading. If the book is sufficiently interesting, you may find your children reading ahead on their own.

Selecting Appropriate Books for the Reluctant Reader

The two most important things to know before you look for specific books are your child's reading level and your child's interests. In order to select books appropriate for your child, it also helps to know what to look for in choosing books for your reluctant reader. These include the book's vocabulary, sentence length and complexity, design, including the size of the print and illustrations. For some kids, any book more than 200 pages is too long. For other kids, if the information is broken down into small chunks and illustrated, they don't care how long the book is. If you need assistance in selecting books, there are online book lists and other resources for reluctant readers.

Hi-Lo Books: If Your Child/Teen Reads Below Grade Level

There are also publishers who specialize in hi-low books (What are hi-lo books?). For example, Capstone Press specializes in high interest/low reading level nonfiction books, which are often used in classrooms. The books are written for grades 2-3 and grades 3-4 reading levels, with content of interest to students in the fifth grade and higher. You can buy an entire series or individual books. The books are illustrated with photographs and cover topics that are particularly appealing to kids. Titles include The World's Wildest Roller Coasters, Horseback Riding, In-Line Skating,Sharks, Motorcycle Police, and Ghosts and Poltergeists.

Orca Book Publishers publishes fiction for the reluctant reader, with an emphasis on fiction that will appeal to boys. Orca Currents is middle school fiction with an interest level of ages 10-14 years and a reading level of grades 2.5-4.0. Orca Currents, teen fiction for the reluctant reader with an interest level of 12 and older and a reading level of grades 2.4-4.0, includes Accelerated Reader selections.

For additional related resources, see Hi-Lo Books for Reluctant Readers.

Especially for Kids Who Like Nonfiction Much More Than Fiction

If you have children who love nonfiction, you will be delighted with all of the DK (Dorling Kindersley) and National Geographic books now available for young readers. Profusely illustrated with photographs and nicely designed, these books are particularly appealing to the child who doesn't want to read about animals that talk but instead is interested in how things work and in real life adventure. Unlike many nonfiction children's books that must be used as read-alouds because they are too difficult for young readers, these books are specifically written for young independent readers.

Informational Books for Middle Grade Readers

Middle grade reluctant readers who love facts, with lots of illustrations and short explanations, will enjoy the annual National Geographic Kids Almanac and the annual Guinness World Records, a book full of illustrated accounts of weird and wonderful world records. For a source of excellent informational books for good readers, some of which may be just the books to interest your reluctant reader, take a look at the current and past winners of the Robert F. Sibert Medal for informational books.

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