How to Improve Kids Reading Ability When They are Disinterested and Disengaged

September 24, 2020

How to Improve Kids Reading Ability When They are Disinterested and Disengaged

Some children avoid reading because of reading struggles, but others may not like to read. This could be related to feeling that reading is just another homework assignment given to them by teachers. Or maybe they just haven’t found a book genre that speaks to them. If a child doesn’t read consistently, they may fall behind in proficiency because they simply aren’t reading enough.

Here’s how to improve kids’ reading ability (and their motivation!) if they are disinterested in books and disengaged while reading.

How to Improve Kids Reading Ability When They are Disinterested and Disengaged

Let Them Choose Their Books

Teachers in higher grade levels may assign books that the entire class must read. In this case, a child will not have a choice regarding what is read at school. However, reading time at home is a different story…literally!

Parents should let children explore topics that interest them. Let kids pick out their own books. While libraries may be closed during the pandemic, many will let members request books for pick-up. Or parents can download books for use on e-reader platforms.

How can parents figure out what books a child likes? Brainstorm with them! Grab a piece of paper and set a stopwatch for two minutes. During that time, encourage kids to list all the subjects, places, people and ideas that interest them. After the two minutes, review the list together. Then look for books on their level that fall in these interest areas.

Create a Rewards System

Kids may need a little motivation to read, and a rewards system can help. Create a reading program at home that includes both reading goals and reading rewards. Get creative and crafty; design a reading chart that allows kids to place stickers or stamps every time they hit a reading goal. These goals can be set in reading minutes, number of pages read or the number of books read each month. 

Don’t make goals too easy or too hard. Create rewards that are simple and fun—they don’t have to be expensive! Rewards can include extra time for online play, a later weekend bedtime, additional privileges or even small tokens like pencils and erasers. Create a goal and rewards system that works for your child.

How to Improve Kids Reading Ability When They are Disinterested and Disengaged

Read the Book and Watch the Movie as a Family

If a child is reading a book that has been adapted to the big screen, host a family book-movie night! Here’s the catch, though. The entire family needs to read the book together. Depending on the ages of family members this may mean that everyone reads independently, or parents can read to younger children.

Ask questions about the book after every chapter; talk about the events and characters. Then host a movie night and watch the adaptation. You may even consider munching on story-themed snacks.

Make Sure Kids Read On Their Level

Reading frustration can stem from kids trying to read a book that’s too hard. Maybe they want to read the same book as their friend—who might be on a higher reading level. Encourage children to always read on their own level, and at their own speed. 

Reading isn’t a race, and books should be chosen to fit the abilities of the reader. If a child doesn’t read on their level, they may miss parts of the plot and simply disengage. The more kids read, the better readers they can become…and that means choosing harder books when they are ready! Understood provides guidance on how to find appropriate books on your child’s level.

Turn off the Stopwatch

Yes, your child’s teacher may have instructed 20 minutes of reading a night. Setting the clock, though, may cause kids to see reading as an activity that has to be finished just to run out the clock. A timer also may encourage kids to give up the book when they are engrossed in the plot. If a child reads for an hour on both Saturday and Sunday, they’ve still clocked more minutes than their peers who read for 20 minutes during the week. Kids should read regularly, and they should set weekly reading goals that meet classroom expectations. Forget about the traditional reading log!

How to Improve Kids Reading Ability When They are Disinterested and Disengaged

Ask for Help

While goals, rewards, interesting books and some creativity may inspire kids to read more, they still may struggle with comprehension or fluency. If a child is struggling, reach out to the teacher and ask for help or guidance.

Your child’s teacher may be able to give advice on how to best help them at home, or the teacher may initiate further reading evaluations. Parents should trust their gut instinct; they know their child best. Sometimes a teacher can provide reassurance that everything is ok, but they also can be the best resource if more help is needed.

Use a Reading App at Home

As many parents are at home with children supervising virtual learning, they may utilize reading apps or reading programs online to help children with reading fundamentals. There are many programs available that are designed to make children better readers or to help struggling readers; investigate the options and utilize trial periods to better understand the program’s features and capabilities.

Readability offers lessons that can help children who struggle with fluency and comprehension. A built-in AI tutor provides assistance if a child has difficulty with pronunciation or if they stumble during lessons. The tutor also asks comprehension questions after each story to gauge understanding. Parents can sign up for a free-seven day trial period to better understand if Readability is a fit for their child; the trial provides access to all features.

Ready to try Readability? Begin a free trial today!