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How to Motivate a Reluctant Reader

“How to Motivate a Reluctant Reader”

As a librarian who has a master’s degree in children’s literature, one of the most common questions I get asked is how can I help my child love to read? Often, I encounter parents or other concerned adults who really want an answer to this perplexing question. Let me clarify that I assume these adults are talking about children who simply don’t like to read or who lack the motivation to read. These adults are not talking about students who have real physical struggles with reading, such as those children who are dyslexic or have a severe deficit in reading compression or fluency. For these children, their needs are much more specific and they will need the help of trained and engaged professionals to support them in their learning. However, for those individuals who lack basic motivation and interest there are certainly things that all adults can do to help.

My number one recommendation to all adults is to make reading interesting. In schools, reading is often uninspiring and irrelevant to students needs and likes. To combat this, adults should let students explore reading that really interests them. I tell the students in my children’s literature courses that there is no such thing as a “non-reader”— he or she is only a reader who has not found the right book yet. So, one of the best things we can do as adults is to let children explore the wide range of reading out there that interests them until they are able to find that one text that opens the amazing world of books to them. Sometimes potential readers will take a long time exploring their interests before they hit on that book and that’s okay—it just takes time.  It’s important to note that this variation means that we, as adults, have to step back a little and let our children explore things we may not feel is the best quality.  I don’t really like to see children reading the latest book featuring their favorite television personality, but if that exploration leads them to understand how interesting and fun reading can be then I’m all for it. I’ve never met a real reader who does not move on from lower quality work once they find out how cool reading is and what’s out there. My own personal trajectory was from Nancy Drew to Dostoevsky, and I’ve found that given time children will take a similar path. Supported by our guidance and interest, let’s allow children to explore to their hearts content. And that’s one way to help encourage reluctant readers straight from “Rachel’s World.”     

by Rachel Wadham, host of “Worlds Awaiting”


At “Worlds Awaiting” we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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