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What to do if Your Child is a Reluctant Reader

For young children, being able to read is an important foundation for all later education. But some children do not take to it as well as others. Some have difficulty learning how to read and hence cannot have fun doing it, while others simply do not enjoy books as much as their parents would like them to. In these situations, it is important for parents to play an active role so that the child does not fall behind.

Reading does not have to be your child’s favorite activity, but he or she should be capable of enjoying it. And even if that is not possible, a strong proficiency with written words, letters, and sounds will help your child later on.

If your child is a reluctant reader, here are some things you can do.

1. Have a varied book collection. Your child should have an ample collection of books of many varieties, at least during the early years of reading. This way, he or she can try lots of different reading experiences to and develop tastes. Eventually, you will find that some books just do not need to be there, but for now, keep all the options open.

2. Let the child decide what to read. As a parent, you of course have your own tastes, and your may even have certain children’s books that are dear to your heart.  While it may hurt your feelings a little if your child does not like your personal favorite, it is important not to try to force tastes.

3. Let the child decide how to read. In addition to giving your child freedom to read the books she wants, also try not to force so-called “normal” reading habits on her. For examples, as grownups, we might not enjoy reading the same book over and over, but some kids like to do this, and it is perfectly fine. Or if your child wants to read the pages out of order, read very fast, or jump around from book to book, do not worry about it. What is important is that she is engaging  with the books.

4. Read aloud with your child. Even if your child does not have much patience during reading time, at least make an effort to have regular out-loud reading session—preferably one per day during your child’s very early years. This way, you help build your child’s vocabulary, you help make it fun, and you get some nice bonding time.

5. Provide non-book reading opportunities. Do not forget that the written word is all around us virtually all the time, and much of it is not in book form. Pointing out the various instances of letters and words in the world can help your child enjoy the reading process, and it can be great for his or her developing ability to connect words with things and ideas. With your child, read road signs, advertisements, product labels, words on the television, pieces of mail, and so on.

6. Seek help if you think it is needed. As your child grows, if he or she seems to be falling behind, there are many resources available. Talk with your child’s teacher or even your pediatrician about the options that are available.

By Lisa Pecos

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