The Reluctant Reader

Written by Kitty England on December 1st, 2014

Here at Providence we love reading, and love passing that joy on to our students, but in every class there are some students who struggle a little more than others. Our teachers have some strategies to help those students that we would like to share, as they may help you encourage your own child to read at home.


  • Choose books that are of interest to your particular child. This is a great time in children’s literature and we have so much to choose from as we try to engage our children. If your child prefers sports stories, try novels about the sports they love or biographies of their favorite players. Some children have a strong preference for contemporary stories over fantasies or the other way around. Try to help them find the kind of books they love.
  • Read aloud to your child, even your older children. Many children enjoy stories that are above their natural reading level. This also demonstrates to them that you, their parent, love reading, and that it can be a social activity, not just a solitary one. Additionally, hearing your inflection and engagement with the text helps them to learn how to engage with it themselves, and makes the voice they hear in their own mind as they read more animated and interesting.
  • Audiobooks are a great use of technology. Some children are better able to process information this way and will become better readers as they are able to read in ways that suit them best.
  • Adults read a wide range of texts. Introduce things like restaurant menus, recipes, or directions for playing board games. Kids will have to decode words, use comprehension skills, and even make connections between ideas.
  • Rather than require long stretches of sustained, silent reading, suggest that you and your child read together for the next fifteen minutes. Then give them a chance to move around or engage their mind in other activities before coming back to reading.
  • Make regular trips to the library and allow your child to choose their own books. Engage the help of a librarian to help find books that interest your child. This provides your child with some autonomy that may feel lacking when we just require them to read. It also introduces them to other adults that are invested in books and knowledge, and can bring new ideas and suggestions about what to read that we may not think of at home.
  • Don’t be afraid to let your child read picture books, or other books you consider below their reading level. Language in picture books can be quite rich, and the illustrations help tell the story, which can aid the struggling reader. For this reason, graphic novels and illustrated middle grade books or chapter books can also be wonderful choices. Reading successfully below their ability can make reading seem more accessible and build your child’s confidence before progressing on to more difficult books.

The most important thing is to be reading regularly, at the most appropriate level for your child, with the stories that will engage their minds and imaginations. We hope these suggestions are helpful as we partner with you to raise strong readers.

**Written by Kitty England, Sasha Decker & Robin Lemke