Choosing the ideal books for reluctant readers

There is more to successfully choosing books for reluctant readers than many realise, and, sometimes, it can be as simple as playing them at their own game.

The secret is to look at your reluctant reader as the individual they are.

  • What do they like?

  • Who or what holds their attention?

  • Where do their interests lie?

  • Do they prefer fiction or non-fiction?

But there is still one all-important question that is often overlooked. What is your reluctant reader’s reading age, AS OPPOSED to their physical age?

Children are unique.

They excel and struggle in varying areas, meaning while one might be a whizz at maths, they may struggle in literacy. Another might excel in sport but have no interest in the academic side of their education. Equally, children are all reading at varying stages. I will go into this in more depth in next week’s newsletter.

If you are lucky enough to find a gem of a title that your reluctant reader loves, is there a sequel? Is it part of a series?

Pauline Tait

I have mentioned previously that as a parent/carer, you are best placed to choose the subject matter for your reluctant reader. You know the amount of text they can realistically cope with, and you know where their interests lie. My advice is always to consider the following

  • What is their reading age, rather than physical age.

  • What are they interested in?

  • Do they have a favourite character?

  • Is there a current TV programme or movie that has piqued their interest?

  • Is there an obsession, such as dinosaurs, fairies, princesses, the solar system, cars, trains?

  • Fiction or non-fiction?

I have chosen the word obsession intentionally. Many children have an ‘obsession of the moment’. They could be in a dinosaur phase or an under the sea phase. But whatever it is, listen to it and use it to your advantage. Go all in, choose books that relate to their current obsession. Chat about the characters, the world they are living in, and what makes them who they are. Lead these conversations towards your chosen books.

Reluctant readers will be more inclined to sit and listen to an entire story if they have an initial investment in the plot or characters. And if you are lucky enough to find a gem of a title that your child loves, is there a sequel? Is it part of a series?

I would go so far as to say, that looking specifically for books that are a first in series could both open your reluctant reader up to exciting new worlds and make the task of finding their next read far easier.

Another point to consider is that reluctant readers who are interested in facts and the how and why, generally prefer non-fiction. Factual books that describe, inform, and spark curiosity rather than a story. Especially autistic children. So, if your reluctant reader is a lover of facts, a simple change of genre could make all the difference.

Call to Action

This week, focus on removing all distractions and temptations during reading time.

This week’s call to action is all about focusing on the likes and dislikes of your reluctant reader. Their hobbies, obsession of the moment, and their reading age. Browse the shelves of your local book shops or libraries to see if there is a character, story arc or fantasy world that would excite your child and increase the chances of them sitting with you as you read to them. Or even better, that they might sit and read to you. And remember, a first in series can be a game changer.

Thank you for reading this week’s episode of Reluctant Readers.
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