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Empowering Reluctant Readers to Discover the Joy of Books - Negative Associations

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Negative associations, where a reluctant reader has struggled to read with impactful consequences, can have lasting effects on a child's attitude and motivation towards reading, impacting their day-to-day school life and their relationships with their peers.

Common reactions to negative associations include:

  • Increased anxiety.

  • A reluctance to engage with books.

  • An overwhelming lack of confidence in their reading abilities.

Over time, these negative experiences can not only affect their enjoyment of reading, but they can also have a devastating impact on a child's overall literacy development.

‘When a reluctant reader feels they have achieved, their positivity and self-confidence increase, feeding their overall well-being.’

Pauline Tait

To move forward, the focus must be on rebuilding the confidence of your reluctant reader. This, in turn, will help lower their anxiety and the negative feelings they associate with reading.

  • Reading Age. Making sure reading material is appropriate to your reluctant reader’s reading age, rather than their physical age will mean there are fewer tricky words to decode. Your reluctant reader will have a more positive reading experience and reading sessions may then last longer.

  • Avoid setting reading milestones. Instead, focus on encouraging reading. At this stage, it doesn’t matter how small the word count is. What is important is that your reluctant reader is reading. 

  •  Refrain from mentioning the negatives. Fluency, speed, accuracy, and word count, they do not matter here.

  • Give praise and encouragement and celebrate every success. This is all about boosting confidence, making your reluctant reader feel they have achieved, increasing their positivity, self-confidence, and overall wellbeing.

  • Create a calming, cosy reading nook. Transform a redundant corner or space into a reading nook. It should be calming, have limited distractions, and be decorated to the taste of your reluctant reader. Cosy blankets in their favourite colours, a calming light, a favourite soft toy. In other words, you are creating a ‘den’, something every child loves to do!

Call to Action

This week, my advice is to incorporate all the suggestions above.

Start with creating the reading nook and work from there, making sure there are already two or three books in there to avoid the pressure of your reluctant reader having to choose beforehand. Just make sure they are either old favourites or contain favourite characters and that they are specifically aimed at your reluctant reader’s reading age.

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