Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

10 Tips for Parents (and librarians) Working with Reluctant Readers

Hand out I made for Betty Warmack Branch Library


Read with your child for 20 minutes a day.  Take turns switching who does the reading.  Afterwards, ask them the who, what, when, why and how of the story to make sure they are understanding what is read.  If you have a teen and they are hesitant to be read aloud to, read the same book as them and discuss it daily. 

2. Listen
Have your child listen to audio books and read along in the book.  Research shows that the act of reading while listening can help improve skills and comprehension.  You can listen in the car while on the road or at home.

3. Opportunity
Every moment is a reading moment.  When you are eating a bowl of cereal ask your child to read you what is on the cereal box.  While watching a movie turn on the subtitles or close captioning. Read road signs.  The best way to become a better reader is to read!  Make your home a reading friendly zone!

4. Have Reading Delivered
Consider buying your child a magazine subscription that is age appropriate and in a subject area that interests them.  The act of receiving mail is exciting to kids and they will love to sit down and read it.  All reading is reading practice.

An aside: All reading really is reading practice! Remember that reading online is also reading practice.  So don’t look down on reading online blogs, news, etc.

5. Access
Make sure there are always reading materials in the home, including some that the child or teen owns themselves.  This reinforces the value in reading and in books.  Make visiting the library a part of your regular routine.  Again, you are setting up a reading lifestyle.

Some recommendations for younger reluctant readers
6. Model
Make sure your child sees YOU reading.  Often.

7. Coordinate
Be sure to meet with your child’s teacher to learn what the expectations are, what books they can choose to read,  what reading level they are at and what the goal is.  Ask them about local after school and tutoring programs. 

8. Choice
Give your child the opportunity to choose their own reading material so that they are reading something they like and will enjoy.  Let them know if they don’t like a book they can stop it and begin another one.  Not every book is the right book for that reader and forcing someone to read something they hate can be a huge turn off to the joy of reading.  Don’t walk out of the library with 1 book, walk out with 5 so that they have choices.

9. Writing
Reading is tied in with writing skills.  Buy a 50 cent notebook and have kids and teens journal daily.  They can write short stories, a diary or whatever they want but studies show that as children and teens learn to be better writers they learn to be better readers and vice versa. (For more on Writing and Reading, visit the National Writing Project)

10. Praise
Praise your child (or teen) when you see them reading, especially if it is self initiated.  And be sure you turn off the TV and give them plenty of time to choose to read (limit tv time to certain times during the day so your child has free and open time to choose things like reading, creative activities and physical activities).
The most important thing is that reading should be FUN! Don’t let it become a source of tension and fighting.
What tips have you found work for you? Please share them in the comments and be entered to win our Orca Book giveaway this week.
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  1. Excellent suggestions. Love the handouts that we can share.

  2. Great tips 🙂 I'm neither a parent nor a reluctant reader so it's hard for me to fathom not having reading in my life. I'm blessed because despite my Mum not really being a reader she read to me when I was a baby and that maybe where my love for books stemmed from. I will definitely be recommending this to my friends that do have kids though. I don't think ppl understand how important it is for them to read to their kids when their young to encourage them to be readers as their older.

    I suppose non-readers don't really understand the importance of reading to their children 🙁

  3. kyinzom says:

    this is a marvellous handout guide for me being a librariAn and am going to use it to the fullest possible to make my orphan and semi orphan kids to read and read for life.

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