8 Ways to Motivate Your Reluctant Reader

By Captain Yarr and First Mate Keira

Do you have a reluctant reader in your household? Are you tired of trying to figure out how to force entice them into reading? Have no fear! Here are eight ideas that have worked for on us:

1. Get a Book and Read it Out Loud as a Whole Family.

Take turns reading or assign family members certain parts. One can be the narrator, others specific characters and do dialogue. Reading together will get your reluctant reader reading. They might initially be there under duress but because everyone else is doing it too they can’t complain (much). Plus as everyone gets involved your reluctant reader will see how much fun is being had and take part willingly.

2. Make Everyone Read, Not Just Your Reluctant Reader.

A reluctant reader won’t want to read if they see their brothers or sister playing outside, watching a movie, etc. So make it a rule that the whole family must read at a certain time in the day, or on a specific day of the week. If everyone has to read in the same room, they’ll end up policing each other and making sure no cellphones, iPods, etc sneak in and take away from reading time.

3. Supply Them with Dozens of Book Options.

One reason reluctant readers are reluctant readers is simply because they can’t find books that interest them. Fix this by making a habit to go to the library on a regular basis. Check out the new books on the shelves, the new book displays, and audio books available to you. Take the time to talk to a librarian. They’ve very helpful. If you give them an idea on what type of books you like they can find you something to fit your tastes.

4. Read a Chapter a Day.

Sometimes the reason behind reluctant reading is that your reader isn’t involved yet in the story. They’re not captured in the first few pages and other things get their attention. Fix this by making sure that your reluctant reader reads at least one chapter a day. Not only will they get further into the book, but a regular reading schedule will help them get a book read quicker and give them a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

5. Have a Reward Box.

Set up a reward box filled with things your child would like. Be creative put slips of paper inside that read: One outing to ice cream shop, Invite one friend over for a slumber party (any day of the week), Go to the Zoo, Get a Toy from Walmart/Toys R Us/Target, Earn an extra $5 for this week’s allowance, etc. When your reluctant reader finishes a book let them reach in and grab something from the reward box. Don’t tell them what’s in the reward box, because the surprise will make them happier and more eager to figure out what’s inside.

6. Challenge Them to Read More Than Their Siblings.

Set up a contest between all the siblings. Give them the rules, the parameters, and the prize and let them go. Some types of contests you can do include:

  • Read your age in books. (Making it fair for the youngest reader in your family.)
  • Read books that spell out your name. (The first world in the title must match a letter in their name. Good for families with similar name length).
  • Read X amount of books over X amount of pages first. (Fill in X with what you think is appropriate.)

The prizes can choosing where everyone goes to dinner, what movie to see in theaters, which theme-park to visit, etc. Rivalry is the surest way to get your reluctant reader reading and with enthusiasm.

7. Motivational Bookmarks.

Make motivational bookmarks. Go here for some examples of motivational bookmarks. It’s an upfront visual of where they are in the book and how much further they have to go. The bookmarks would go great with the reward box from #5.

8. Ban Fun Activities Until Reading Gets Done.

When nothing else works deny them things that they like to do. Make them read for one hour, one chapter, etc. After they do that, allow them to do all the fun activities that they want to do but only after they get their reading done.

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  1. It’s so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I’ve recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, “Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers.”

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers – first in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series – is coming out in June. Contracts are also signed for Captain Jack’s Treasure and River Rampage.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson
    PS. My first 7 books are going to be republished by Comfort Publishing later in 2010

  2. All excellent suggestions. But i would like to add to your list. I recently came across a wonderful game for early readers called “uKloo Early Reader Treasure Hunt Game”. My son…who would absolutely refused to read, loves playing this game…and, he has no idea that it is educational…he is now more confident in his reading skills and we have uKloo to thank for getting him over the hump. I recommend it heartily.

  3. Personally, I encourage people especially my friends to read books. You learn and discover new things from what you read. And I’ve always thought of reading, both fiction and nonfiction, as a fun hobby. It also improves your grammar and broadens your vocabulary.

    Communication Skills

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