Five Steps for Engaging Your Book-Loving But Reluctant Reader

If you homeschool a reluctant reader, you’ve probably discovered an undeniable truth: a variety of circumstances can lead to the frustration, and there’s no surefire, works-for-everyone fix.

While the conundrum is a tough situation, it grows more difficult when your reluctant reader loves books. How do you encourage a child who loves stories, but recoils at the thought of reading on her own? The key lies in engaging your book-loving, reluctant reader with four steps that bring literature to life.

1. Change Your Perception

Some children labeled reluctant readers aren’t actually reluctant at all. Take the resurgence in read-alouds, for example, or the explosion of audiobook sales. A full 77% of self-identified avid readers enjoy audiobooks; it’s not a stretch to correlate this statistic to children as well. If your student prefers listening to reading a book, take heart. He is just as much a reader as the next child. A preference for listening isn’t reluctance at all.

2. Go for Short and Sweet

Five Steps for Engaging Your Book-Loving But Reluctant ReaderWhile listening to audiobooks is a valid form of reading, there is something to be said for holding a book in your hands. Start the journey to the physical act of reading slowly, with short, high interest literature designed to engage. If you’d like to try this tactic, try offering passages limited to one-page. Start with essays, excerpts, articles, or comic panels—anything that holds your child’s interest.

3. Put Together a Family Reading Center

Every reader in your home will benefit from a family library or reading center, an inviting space where books are easily accessible. Your collection need not be extensive to encourage frequent use of the space, and the process of creating it can be just as exciting as the finished product itself.

Make a list of titles or genres that interest you, then scour thrift and used book stores scavenger hunt style. Eager for a social gathering instead? Organize a potluck bookswap and bring a dish and some books to share.

Of course, using a curriculum full of high quality literature goes a long way towards building your home library and encouraging kids to read.

4. Connect Reading to Service

For some families, literacy is a luxury: they lack the resources and opportunity to read. Volunteering for organizations like Reach out and Read and Reading Partners can help reluctant readers see the value of literacy while enriching someone else’s life.

5. Move Beyond the Page

Books can be the portal to another world, and readers are only limited by their imaginations. Bring literacy to life with engaging activities, like crafting a book to film comparison or creating a soundtrack for a favorite book. You could even try filming your own interpretation of a novel or take a day trip to the area a novel takes place.

Encouraging a reluctant but book-loving reader is a matter of engagement. The more involved your reader becomes in the world she is reading, the more likely she’ll be to pick additional titles in the end. 

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Ginny Kochis

About the Author

Ginny Kochis is a former high school English teacher and adjunct professor of English turned homeschooling mom and business owner. She writes about faith, motherhood, homeschooling and family literacy at Not So Formulaic.