Encouraging Reluctant Readers ~ by: Jake Clare

posted Sep 30, 2013, 9:50 PM by Barry Johnson ISR

Reading is a tremendously appealing, satisfying activity, that all of us want our children to enjoy and we’re lucky to be raising and educating children in a golden age of young adult literacy.

The Harry Potter Effect:

1997                     - Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, first published.

21%                 - The increase in young adult readership from 2000-2010.

5 minutes         - The average increase in reading per day, for pleasure, by children in the last decade.

5 million         - Number of copies Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold in 24 hours.

6 pages             - Number of pages longer Prisoner of Azkaban is than Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

13,500             - Number of pages a child will have read (for pleasure) if they’ve read Harry Potter, A series of Unfortunate Events, Twilight, and Lord of the Rings.

3000-30,000     - Increase in young adult titles published, per year, since the first Harry Potter novel came out.

Source: The state of publishing, mcsweenys.net


While there is much good news, reading for pleasure has some pretty stiff competition from TV, video games and the internet today. What the Harry Potter effect makes clear is that the right circumstances can hook even the most reluctant reader. Children will become hooked if the adults in their lives consistently try to build it into their daily schedules. The key is getting children started.

Five strategies to help even the most reluctant reader:

1. Start with the child’s passions. Children will be more excited about reading when they can choose books or magazines related to their interests. This suggestion is far and away the most powerful one when it comes to encouraging those who are reluctant to read. When kids own the choice of what they will read, motivation increases significantly.

2. Read aloud to children. Many parents regularly read aloud to their children when they are very young, yet stop this activity as the kids get older. Parents should read aloud to children throughout the elementary grades. Doing so makes reading more enjoyable, improves listening skills, builds comprehension, lengthens attention spans, and enhances the imagination.

3. Be a role model to children. When children see their parents reading frequently, discussing what they have read, and carrying books around, they will value reading to a greater extent. The power of modeling cannot be underestimated.

4. Camouflage reading. Parents can increase the amount of time their children spend reading by subtly building the activity into other, seemingly unrelated activities. Examples include reading menus at restaurants, reading the directions to board games, and looking at various websites together. Children who may not yet enjoy reading for its own sake may enjoy it tremendously when it’s incorporated into other engaging pastimes.

5. Be sure children read books that are appropriately challenging. Many times kids don’t want to read simply because the books they encounter are too
difficult. None of us want to encounter frustration, and we will go to great lengths to avoid experiences that make us feel this way. Appropriately challenging books are those in which students can fluently read approximately 95% of the words. Encountering a small number of difficult words can help children grow in their reading skills, but encountering too many of these words can interfere with fluency and lead to discouragement.

Source: Steve Reifman, Teaching The Whole Child 

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