Solving the Reading Meltdown: When Your Child Hates the Assigned Book

a woman in a pastel sundress lies on her back on bright green grass, an open book hiding her face
You assign a volume of classic literature or engaging historical fiction to your child, and he has no desire to read it. You push, assign pages, and encourage your child to stick with it. He fails to read as much as a single chapter.

It’s driving you insane. What do you do?

1. Skip It

First determine how important the book is to your child’s education. Is it a book easily skipped? If so, my recommendation is to drop it especially if your child usually reads his assigned books. Life is too short to argue over one book.

This is an easy solution especially at elementary and intermediate years when what kids read isn't as important as getting reading practice and increasing fluency.

2. Substitute a Different Book

Often there are several books written on the same topic or theme. Just because your child can’t stand one author’s voice doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy the same topic written by someone else.

If he needs a book from a certain era of literature, choose a different one. If you are looking for a novel about a particular period of history, choose an alternate.

Take a look at your library’s catalog, search Pinterest, or ask homeschooling friends for recommendations. You will likely find a well-written substitute your child can appreciate.

What if you don’t want to skip the book though? Sometimes kids resist reading any book, so the issue isn't really the book as much as it's your child's attitude. At other times the book is essential to the topic you’re studying or possibly required for a special co-op class. What do you do then?

3. Use an Audio Version

Solving the Reading Meltdown: When Your Child Hates the Assigned BookAudio versions are great because you can listen to the book while accomplishing something else—traveling in the car, putting together a puzzle, or doing chores.

Choose the best times for your child to listen to the book. It might be on the way to co-op or while waiting for a sibling to finish an extra-curricular activity. Look for those quiet times during the day which are ideal to listen to books.

4. Read it Aloud

If you can’t find an audio book or you have a set time for read alouds, try reading the book aloud to your children. Kids will often sit and listen to books read aloud by mom that they would never touch otherwise.

I like to read aloud while the children are enjoying lunch since it is the one time all my kids are quiet.

5. Insist on Reading It

Sometimes there is no better option than to insist your child read the book anyway. In that case, consider reading the book yourself if you haven’t already. Books are more enjoyable when you’re able to discuss the book as you read. Plus when your child knows mom is putting in the same effort, he is more motivated to equal that investment. There's also little chance for fudging on comprehension when mom is initiating conversations about the book.

Ask your child what aspects of the book should be changed to improve it. Discuss the characters and plot. Explain the finer points of what’s happening in the book and why it’s important. Pull out tea and cookies to turn a chore into a delight.

See BookShark Reading with History Programs