Reading Age Versus Physical Age

The uniqueness of our children means they grow, develop, progress, and mature at varying stages.

This is normal, and we should never expect our children to reach specific levels or stages at the same time as their peers.

It is, however, peer pressure that can result in some children, especially reluctant readers, struggling to move forward in their reading.

This is because either the child or their parents/carers feel they should be reading the same books as their peers. This can be tricky to navigate, but in the case of the parents/carers doing the pushing, this will often exacerbate any issue’s the reluctant reader may already have. Often, these books are simply too challenging and beyond a reluctant reader’s reading ability.

Parents often ask what they can do to push their child on to the next reading stage and my responses are often unpopular…

  • Pushing a child to read beyond their reading age can reduce the child’s confidence in their reading ability as they struggle with the trickier grammar.

  • Reading can become a chore.

  • It can put children off reading altogether.

My reasoning is that if you have a reluctant reader, leave it to the teachers to give them reading books that introduce the next few tricky words. School reading books are designed to move children along at a specific pace, introducing new words the reader can cope with at a pace they can cope with.

Instead, make reading at home a pleasure. Make it a joy. Make it interactive and fun. While you navigate the tricky stages of peer pressure and the pain and tears that might be accompanying these new words that crop up in school reading books, ensure your child can cope with the books they’re reading at home. Choose topics your child enjoys or include their favourite characters.

Make reading at home a pleasure. Make it a joy. Make it interactive and fun.

Pauline Tait

I often remind parents that early chapter books are aimed at 5 to 9 years in the UK and 6 to 8 years in the USA. With that in mind, there is a vast difference between the reading abilities of a 5 year old and a 9 year old, or a 6 year old and an 8 year old.

Equally, picture books are aimed at 3 to 8 years in the UK, 3 to 5 in the USA. These guidelines are there to help us. But they are simply that, guidelines!

My advice is always, not to push. Allow your reluctant reader to develop at their own pace. It is far more important that they are reading something rather than nothing. Often, when reading is encouraged at a level well suited to a reluctant reader, their confidence increases, they begin to enjoy reading sessions far more and are more inclined to say yes when you suggest taking time out to read.

Call to Action

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

This week’s call to action is often better done as a joint task. Take time to go through your reluctant reader’s books with them. Talk about what genres they would like to read and what genres they enjoy reading. These are two very different questions, and the answers can be telling. Follow their lead, and if you feel they are going backwards in their choices of books, don’t worry, it might not be for long. Sometimes, all that is needed is a few weeks of reading unchallenging books to build confidence and fuel their interest in reading.

Thank you for reading this week’s episode of Reluctant Readers.
If you know anybody who would benefit from this newsletter, please click the button below and send this week’s episode through to them. 

Join the conversation

or to participate.