Engaging Reluctant Readers

High Interest Reading Material (Hi-Lo Books)

Allow children to choose their own reading material. Sometimes young people become disengaged from reading because they lose interest in the content of the texts they are reading. Many traditional books assigned in schools as well as textbooks fail to capture the interest of today’s children because they are used to fast paced movies, video games and Internet sites. Parents can employ high interest reading materials to help spark an interest in reading in these children. High interest texts are usually fairly non-traditional. They often focus on “edgy” topics or include a great deal of action. In addition, they may not look like a traditional book. There are a number of excellent graphic novels and higher-level picture books that are designed to engage reluctant readers. While it may seem that these texts “dumb down” reading, they do not. They may be slightly below a reader’s independent reading level, but they provide valuable experiences with reading. Plus, they can serve as a stepping stone towards more traditional and sophisticated texts. The goal in using high interest reading material is to jump start a reluctant reader’s interest in reading.

Role Modeling

Most importantly, read to your child every day. And make sure your child continues to see you and your family reading. The power of modeling successful and enjoyable reading experiences for reluctant readers cannot be denied. When those a reluctant reader looks up to model reading and reinforce its importance, he is more likely to begin reading.

Strategies for Supporting Boys 

As boys seem to be more likely than girls to become reluctant readers, research has been conducted to determine what causes them to turn their backs on reading. Researchers have found that many boys stop reading because they do not see practical applications for reading. They look for immediate uses for what they learn. When they read texts where universal themes or highly fictionalized stories are presented they fail to see the purpose in reading. There is nothing “useful” in these texts. Therefore it has been suggested that those working with reluctant male readers offer them practical texts to engage their interest. These include manuals, non-fiction picture books, Internet sites and technology-based interactive texts. Such materials make reading useful to boys again. Then they are much more apt to continue reading in the future. 

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