What to Do if Your Student Doesn't Enjoy Reading

5 min to read
A student laying on the floor and reading on a tablet

Reading is a critical skill that benefits your child from their early years through the rest of their life. But if you’re kept up at night with thoughts like, “My child isn’t a reader” and “My child hates reading,” you may be at a loss for how to help them improve their literacy skills. Well, don’t fear! There are many creative ways you can help your child enjoy the benefits of reading, without forcing them to become a bookworm.

How Does Reading Benefit Your Child?

Reading has a surplus of benefits outside of the classroom. If your child doesn’t like to read, they’re missing out on more than just the school-based curriculum. According to pediatrician Sarah Klein, MD, “Reading to babies and young children is so important. It provides the building blocks for language. And it gives them the tools for forming lifelong social and emotional skills.”

Reading literary fiction allows children, as they grow older, to learn how to empathize. When reading a story, kids put themselves in the narrator’s shoes, helping them see the world from a different perspective. Learning how to understand other’s feelings is a critical skill that long-term fiction reading can help build.

Young readers have also been shown to have a broader vocabulary than non-readers. Through exposure to new words in varying contexts, your child can expand their vocabulary substantially. Further, All4Kids points to reading to improve cognitive development, concentration, discipline, imagination, and creativity. 

Fun Activities to Improve Reading Skills... that DON’T Involve Reading

Reading dozens of carefully selected books isn’t the only way for your child who hates reading to improve their empathy, communication, and vocabulary. There are plenty of fun activities you can facilitate to help your child work on those skills.

Bake a treat together.

Review a recipe for a favorite treat with your child, encouraging them to read what they can out loud and work on retaining information and understanding what the text is asking them to do. Collaborate on preparing the dish, discussing each step along the way. If they like their creation, consider having them rewrite the recipe in their own cookbook.

Listen to audiobooks.

Going for a long car ride? Pick out an audiobook or dramatized reading to listen to together. You can pause at the end of chapters to discuss what you each think will happen next or why the characters made the choices they made. Listening to stories is also a great alternative to screen time. You might consider listening to a chapter or two together to wind down before bed.

Play games together.

Even when a child doesn't like to read, they often enjoy word-centric games and challenges. Providing solo, age-appropriate games like word searches and crosswords can be a fun way for your student to expand their vocabulary and practice their spelling.

Meanwhile, games like Scrabble and Boggle can be an exciting activity to bring the whole family together. If you have younger children at home, consider creating teams where they can play with an adult instead of alone.

A child reading on a tablet. 

How to Help Your Child Read More

If your child hates reading, there could be a few reasons. The most common are that they’re struggling to read the books provided or are bored by the books assigned in school. You can combat these by encouraging them to explore different reading materials and incorporating other strategies to make reading at home more fun.

Read different genres.

Offer your child books on topics they’re interested in. Ask them what their favorite TV shows or movies are or what they find interesting about the world and look for age-appropriate books related to that subject. Just because a book isn’t on the school curriculum doesn’t mean it is any less valuable.

Read something besides books.

Reading isn’t just limited to novels. Kids can enjoy the benefits of reading when they peruse blogs, magazines, comics, non-fiction, and more. Finding materials that not only hold your child’s interest but still challenge their mind can make reading more exciting and engaging.

Help them see the value in what they are reading.

Not everyone is a reader or finds a love of books, but reading in school is inevitable, even if your child hates reading. To help them read more and finish their assignments, first help them understand why their teacher asked them to read something. Sometimes, just knowing why they have to read can make the assignment easier to begin and complete. 

Early readers can use reading to build their vocabulary and become more familiar with how words and sentences are constructed. 

Younger kids could use reading to learn more about a specific subject that they can’t find elsewhere.

For older students, reading articles about current events could be used to consider what the writer was trying to achieve with the article, especially if they find multiple sources on the same event. Reading articles or even watching different videos on the same topic with a critical eye can help build analytical skills that are invaluable in and out of the classroom. 

Reading has many benefits for children of all ages and doesn’t have to be a chore. You can make it a fun activity for you and your child. However, if your child hates reading, there are still other ways they can gain critical skills like empathy and concentration while expanding their vocabulary and analytical skills. 

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