Tell Me How to Help My Child with Reading When They Don’t Want to Read

May 13, 2022

How to Help My Child with Reading

Some children cannot get enough books. These children love to read, and even at a young age, they might have found a favorite genre or a favorite author. For other children, reading is just boring. They might be good readers, capable readers, but they simply don’t want to crack open the book.

There are so many ways to help struggling readers, but parents might be stumped on how to help children who don’t want to read. If parents are about to throw their hands up and yell “Tell me how to help my child with reading when they don’t want to read,” utilizing a few creative tips could make all the difference.

To help a child with reading who doesn’t like reading, parents can:

  • Introduce comic books or graphic novels
  • Let the listen to books as they read
  • Create a rewards system for reading
  • Ditch the clock
  • Let children choose their own books

While these tips by themselves won’t necessarily help children with reading, here’s how parents can use these strategies to design a positive reading atmosphere for the child that is more conducive to their learning needs.

Why Does the Child Dislike Reading?

Children who struggle to read might shy away from reading because they feel embarrassed about their struggle. Reading might make them feel anxious or nervous. Parents should help them understand that at home no one is judging them. Parents also need to stay positive when guiding a child with these struggles.

Other children might not struggle to read but they have learned to dislike reading because perhaps the act of reading has become equated to a sense of obligation. Reading a book is a form of entertainment, but many children have been taught that they need to check off their 15 minutes a day. Reading every day is homework, not an adventure.

Trying to reverse this attitude could be tough, but it’s not impossible. Parents will have to create their own reading environment at home, and they will have to focus on the fun as they help their child with reading.

Introduce Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Introduce Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Parents, it’s ok to let children ditch the classic books. Let them read comic books or graphic novels at home. Teachers might even encourage children to mix up their reading materials.

Reading is reading. If a child is really interested in a comic book series, parents can foster that love. If the comic book adventure encourages them to read, then they might read more and read often. This is the end goal.

Graphic novels are becoming incredibly popular for children, young adults and adults, too. Explore different graphic novels and find a series or a book that piques a child’s interest. Graphic novels can be humorous or serious; as with all books, though, parents should make sure they choose titles that are at the child’s reading level.

Need some suggestions? Good Housekeeping compiled a list of graphic novel titles for children of different ages.

Let Children Listen and Read

Helping a child with reading can involve complementary learning methods. Some children understand a book better by hearing it. Audiobooks can provide that auditory component that some children need to fully engage and understand the material.

Children can read the book and listen to it simultaneously. Parents also could encourage the child to read a chapter and then listen to the chapter to further facilitate understanding. After reading and listening, parents can talk to children about the book. Ask questions to gauge understanding of the material.

If children struggle to identify what has happened, parents may read the chapter with the child or have them re-read the chapter silently. Then the child can listen to the chapter again. Chunking a chapter or book into sections also could be beneficial. After reading a chunk of text, parents can play that portion via the audiobook.

Create a Reward System

Some children benefit from a rewards system. Children who avoid reading or simply don’t like it might be motivated if there are rewards tied to nightly reading.

A rewards system can focus on reading goals to facilitate a more positive perception about books and reading. For example, parents could sit with their child to discuss achievable reading goals for finishing a chapter book. Perhaps the child needs to read one chapter each night and receives a check mark on a chart.

Children might earn a reward when they read so many days in a row or finish a specific number of pages. Reading goals also could be tied to the number of books a child reads (some library summer reading programs are designed this way).

Prizes also could be tied to extra fun activities or they might even be tied to reading (like a new bookmark). Some parents have a prize bucket filled with pencils, stickers, etc.

How to Help My Child with Reading

Ditch the Clock

While many children are required to read a specific number of minutes per day (maybe 15 to 30), setting a clock or a timer can be a distraction. Some e-readers will track reading minutes, and this can make it easier for parents to track reading time.

If parents are reading to children, they can take a peek at the clock to understand reading minutes. One way for parents to covertly track reading minutes is to schedule a family reading time. The family can gather in the living room to read silently for a designated period of time.

Not only does this show children that parents read, too, but it also sets up a reading habit.

Embrace Freedom of Choice

Everyone has different taste in music, movies and books, too. Some children might start to really dislike reading because parents are picking their books.

Instead of forcing a child to read a specific book, take children to the library and let them choose. Parents should make sure the books are at the appropriate reading level, but children should get to select the books that they want to read.

Letting a child choose their own books can help them discover their favorite authors, interests and genres. Forcing titles on children might further push the notion that reading is assigned homework or just another chore.

Remember, children should be able to choose graphic novels, too. All reading is beneficial!

How to Help My Child with Reading

Use a Reading App to Help Children Enjoy Reading

A reading app like Readability also could help children find more enjoyment in reading while also helping them to become more confident and better readers. Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that learns each child’s voice; children read stories aloud via Readability, and, if they struggle, the tutor can identify their difficulties and provide help

Readability encourages engagement during reading time, too. Every story includes a list of vocabulary words, but children can tap any word in a story to hear its definition or to hear it used in a sentence. Each word that a child discovers is added to their vocabulary word bank.

The Storytime feature of Readability lets children listen to their favorite Readability stories. Children can listen to a story anywhere. They also can follow along as the book is narrated.

When children read stories and books in Readability, their reading time is automatically tracked. Parents can access a private portal called the Progress Dashboard that lets them view their child’s reading data; parents can see their child’s reading level, their reading fluency (measured in words read per minute) and see how long they used Readability every day.

Readability is designed for children in preschool through fifth grade, and the program can help children who struggle with fluency, comprehension and decoding, too. Interested in learning more about Readability? Sign up for a free seven-day trial to explore all the features.