Encouraging Reluctant Readers

In every class there are students who don’t enjoy reading and resist reading, either out loud or to themselves. There are several strategies that can encourage reluctant readers to participate in class reading activities.

  • Choose high-interest reading materials. As you get to know your students you’ll understand what really motivates each child. Some may be sports fans, while others are fascinated by sea mammals. Offer a mix of reading materials that engage students based on their own interests.
  • Read aloud to students. Whether you read to the whole class or to a small group, you’re modeling strong reading skills and, if you read with enthusiasm, demonstrating how much fun it can be to connect to a story.
  • Make reading an opportunity for socialization. Pair students of similar abilities and ask them to read a text together. Assign roles, questions, and opportunities for conversation during the reading experience.
  • Use technology. If your school offers e-readers, tablets, or other technology, create opportunities for some students to read using a screen. Students will love the chance to use the technology and will be more willing to volunteer if they can use technology.
  • Try different kinds of texts. Reading is a life skill. In their adult lives, students will read a wide range of texts. Introduce things like restaurant menus, recipes, or directions for playing board games. Students will have to decode words, use comprehension skills, and even make connections between ideas.
  • Rather than require long stretches of sustained, silent reading, offer shorter, task-oriented reading experiences. For examples, provide a schedule for the day’s activities, or a social story about appropriate behavior during an upcoming activity. If students have a purpose for reading, and if the reading experience is shorter, they will be more likely to jump in.

Finally, consider that any strategy to encourage readers is only effective if students have the skills necessary to read. Be sure that any students with significant reading difficulties have been identified, and that the appropriate remediation is offered. Some students are reluctant to read because they don’t have the skills to read at grade level.