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Empowering Reluctant Readers to Discover the Joy of Books - Reading Skills

Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to complete the poll in last week’s newsletter. Your feedback has been invaluable and has resulted in a lack of interest in literacy being the focus of our newsletters in the weeks going forward.

We will focus on one contributing factor per newsletter. This will allow us to keep our newsletters short and manageable to fit around busy family life.

Reading Skills

Children who struggle in some areas of literacy can quickly become disinterested in reading.

Common causes are:

  • Struggling to decode words.

  • Struggling to understand these words.

  • Fluency when reading.

All three of these causes can result in children becoming frustrated, tearful, or angry. Others will withdraw into themselves and refuse to talk about their reading concerns altogether. But no matter their reaction, the result is often a reluctance to read.

Reluctant readers are often afraid to read in front of their peers and, as the days turn into weeks, what may have been an off day, a sentence or paragraph with a few too many tricky words, or a stressful reading session, has become the stumbling block in their learning.

‘Giving praise and celebrating every single achievement, no matter how small, can go a long way in building the confidence of a reluctant reader.’

Pauline Tait

Finding simple solutions, that don’t make reluctant readers feel they are being treated differently from their peers, is key.

  • Give your reluctant reader one-to-one reading time. Where there are no other siblings around to hear if they stumble over their words or struggle to decode. This can increase the reader’s focus as peer pressure has been removed.

  • Get strategic with game time. Flash cards asking players to match sight words with pictures encourages reluctant readers to think and read quickly, without them feeling the pressure of having to read.

  • If your reluctant reader is hesitant to read aloud, introduce paired reading. This technique is often used in schools and allows your reluctant reader to fall into the flow of the accompanying reader. The aim is to read the same piece of text aloud at the same time. This can build confidence in decoding and fluency. However, please be aware to slow your own reading pace so that it’s more in keeping with your reluctant reader’s. If you read too quickly, your reluctant reader will be unable to keep up and the exercise will be redundant. This is a technique I have used with pupils who struggle with fluency.

  • In some instances, the school will step in. Offering support and a reading scheme that may be different to their peers. If this is the case, allow the school to determine your reluctant reader’s reading age. But you can build on the work being done in school by introducing the solutions I have mentioned above.

  • 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.’ This quote is taken from a newsletter I wrote a few weeks ago, but I feel it’s also relevant to this week’s topic. You can read the newsletter in full here.

And, finally, Praise. Giving praise and celebrating every single achievement, no matter how small, can go a long way in building the confidence of a reluctant reader.

Call to Action

This week, choose from the strategies I have mentioned above, and introduce them gently into your reluctant reader’s daily routine.

You don’t have to try them all, and certainly not all at once, as that could be overwhelming for your reluctant reader.

But pick whichever you think would most suit the temperament of your reluctant reader. Introduce them subtly, and as fun, rather than as a strategy to encourage them in their reading. This way, there’s no pressure on your reluctant reader.

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