When Your Child Hates Reading

Love of reading helps a child in so many ways: it facilitates school learning, career functioning, lifelong professional and personal learning, and of course endless personal pleasure. When a child dislikes reading, on the other hand, his or her school performance and work performance can suffer. As serious as this is, parents often feel helpless to fix the situation – they don’t know how to get their youngster to enjoy reading. Fortunately, there ARE things that parents can do when they know how.

If your child hates to read, consider the following tips:

Try to Discover Why Your Child Dislikes Reading
Figuring out the reasons why your child hates reading helps point to solutions. For instance, if your child doesn’t like to read because he or she is finds it boring, it can sometimes be because the child’s poor reading skills slow down comprehension so much that the lag time between sounding out words and getting the storyline is too large – the story becomes boring. If so, you share the reading task so as to speed things up: you read a sentence and then the child reads a sentence or you read a paragraph and then the child reads a few sentences or you read a page and then the child reads a paragraph or two.  Share enough to make the story go quickly and make the child’s reading task shorter and less arduous. In this way, the child can learn that reading brings excitement and pleasure and this knowledge becomes a powerful motivator for pushing through the difficulty of acquiring the necessary skill-set.

Of course, it could be that the exercise is boring because it IS boring! Perhaps the literature that is written for the child’s reading level is simply uninteresting. This would be unfortunate because the child might get the wrong idea that books are boring. If this happens, be sure to get simple books out of the library that cover interesting topics and help your child read through these. In addition, make sure to get some really interesting books at higher reading levels and READ them to your child. This will not retard your child’s reading skill; rather, it will inspire the child to want to learn to read. It will also help the child to become a reader eventually, as the child begins to integrate the patterns of reading into his or her own mind as a result of listening to you read.

It is also possible that your child thinks of reading as “homework” rather than as something that someone freely chooses to do. Show him that reading is fun by letting him see you reading in your spare moments. Bring home interesting books and magazines for the whole family to enjoy; when a child sees that everyone in the family is reading enthusiastically, he or she will be more motivated to learn to do the same.

 Make Reading a Visual Experience
Children love looking at pictures. Pictures make the learning process more fun, interesting and comprehensible. Therefore, try to bring home well illustrated books for your kids, even if they are older (even adults enjoy books with good illustrations and photos!). A child is more likely to pour over a well-illustrated book, spending more time and effort trying to decipher it and thereby actually improving his or her reading skills. The opposite is true of books that are heavy with unillustrated text, especially if the layout is poor. Too many words cramped together on a page can discourage young readers from getting started, let alone persevering.

Take Your Child to the Library and/or Bookstore
If possible, bring your youngster to the library to select books to bring home. This allows the child to peruse the selection of topics and styles of books, coming eventually to choose those that most appeal to him or her. Some children may be drawn to “how-to” books instead of novels or stories – that’s fine. Give your child to the opportunity to discover the world of books and never discourage reading. Some kids may prefer to read online – this, too, is fine. In fact, as long as the child WANTS to read print, encourage him or her to do so. Invest in a couple of books to treasure or store in one’s data base. Help the child to bond with books, to make friends with the written word. Avoid all forms of lecturing or preaching about the importance of or necessity of reading. Instead, be a receptive listener to anything your child has to stay about a selection of text.

Create Space for Reading
Create physical and mental space for reading. Having a comfy chair or two with blankets, reading pillows and good lighting nearby can help. Making a “quiet zone” for a certain time period each day or each week is a helpful structure too. For example, you can forbid all electronic devices (games, computers, cell phones, televisions, VCR’s, tablets and so forth for a couple of hours on the weekend and/or a period of time during each day (i.e. twenty minutes before bedtime. This quiet time can be used for playing, doing puzzles or art,  or reading. If you bring home a a tempting pile of books each week from the library, your kids are more likely to use the quiet time for reading.

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