Adventures in Parenting: Relunctant Readers

April 1, 2010 Adventures in Parenting 12


Today’s episode of Adventures in Parenting will take on a more serious note.  Those that know me well know how passionate I am about reading and about getting children excited about reading.  Why am I so passionate?  This  effort was largely due to my oldest son’s problems with reading. 

We enrolled John-John in a private kindergarted at the age of six.  Our county doesn’t have all-day kindergarten and we thought this would be the best thing for John.  Also, he was a bit behind in reading and we thought he would get some more assistance with this in a smaller classroom.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  We knew at an early age that John had some attention and focus issues. The private school required that we get John tested for ADD before they would provide any extra assistance.  In the meantime, John was shutting down.  He detested reading.  It was a chore, a punishment almost.  

We couldn’t bear to see John in this state any longer, so we moved him to public school midway through first grade, the best decision we’ve ever made.  While he was ultimately tested for and diagnosed with ADD, we did it of our own volition and were not pressured to do so. 

Since John’s school is considered a Title 1 school, he receives a tremendous amount of extra help with his reading and he’s grown by leaps and bounds!  He now loves to read, and has reviewed a few books for this blog. One of the features of Jenn’s Bookshelves  is Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader, in which John reviews books “advertised” for reluctant readers and indicates whether or not they’ve passed his “test.”

So, what’s the point of this post?  If you have a reluctant reader, don’t give up!  Here are a few tips I offer to parents of reluctant readers:

  • Don’t force your child to read. Doing so will make it seem like a chore or a punishment
  • Let them read what they want (within reason!).  A graphic novel is still a book!  Also, boys tend to enjoy reading more nonfiction than fiction. 
  • Find books about things they are interested in.  My son LOVES Star Wars, so we stocked up on books about the Star Wars movies and characters. DK Books has an outstanding line of books on Star Wars.
  • Does your child like a movie that was based on a book? Find that book, and read it along with him/her. 
  • READ TO YOUR CHILD!  John is now almost 11 years old, and I still read to him!  Talk about the book while you are reading it. Get your child to talk about the characters, how they make them feel. See if they can predict what is going to happen next.
  • Let your child see you reading!  If they see that you enjoy reading, they might be more inclined to do it!
  • Do they want to learn a new sport or activity? Find a book on that topic.  For example, John loves to do oragami.  So we went out and bought him a few books about the topic. Those books are now worn because he’s read them so many times!

I could go on and on about this, but in order to keep brief I’ll stop here.  I’m always willing to answer questions from parents who have reluctant readers.  We’ve come across a great deal of books that engage reluctant readers, so don’t hesitate to contact me via my Contact form or by email at  You can also catch me on Twitter as @jennsbookshelf!

12 Responses to “Adventures in Parenting: Relunctant Readers”

  1. Jenn
    Twitter: jennbookshelves

    Oh my goodness!! I just looked this one up! Totally buying it for John!

  2. carol

    Great pointers. I’m a big fan of reading out loud with your kids. My daughter, who’s 10, is not a reluctant reader, but I read aloud with her every evening anyway. It’s nice to share books, talk about them.

  3. Cindy

    Jenn I have to say this is another great post. I am thankful that Michael loves books. He loves to cuddle on the couch or in bed and have you read to him. He is in a french immersion school so he reads alot in french (which I have to say for an almost 7 year old he reads pretty darn good in french) and last night at the parent teacher night he started to read an english poster that was up. I was so proud of him. Pretty soon he can read to me 🙂

    Keep up with these great posts Jenn. I am happy that you managed to find a way to get John to read and I agree you can’t force them but finding books of interest helps.

  4. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    Great suggestions, Jenn! Something that worked for our nephew was buying him a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids – he watched for that magazine every month.

  5. Lisa

    My oldest liked to read when he was younger but he really took off as a reader when he discovered those awful Goosebumps books. My mom couldn’t understand why I let him read them. Because, I told her, any reading is better than no reading. And, geez, it’s not like I was giving him pornography or Thomas Harris books.

  6. Michelle Breum

    I taught at a Title 1 school. The extra funding does get some children the extra help they need. Teachers usually have been given extra training also. It’s great your son got the help he needed. A supportive mom made a big difference too!