How to Motivate Reluctant Readers

As much as we may hope that our children will always love reading, the reality is that many kids need a little encouragement.  So… how can we motivate reluctant readers?

Try these four easy tips and then request an invite to my 4 week course, The Reading Roadmap, so you can get the proven, ready-to-deploy system for helping EVERY student thrive!

Build Confidence

When I work with struggling readers, I often find that they need help building confidence. Simply put, many children don’t like to read because they think they just aren’t good at it.

The fastest (and simplest!) way I’ve found to build children’s confidence is to call them “readers”. For instance, I’ll say, “First grade readers, please line up at the door for recess” or, “Superstar readers, it’s time to put away your books please.”

I also point out students’ reading success with quick compliments: “I like the way you pointed underneath each word that you read” or “You did a wonderful job looking at the first letter of that word to figure out what it said.”

Just like a meditation CD repeats the same mantra over and over again, calling students “readers” every chance I get helps them internalize it and believe that it’s true…

And building their confidence naturally builds their motivation!

Find a New Reading Space

One of the easiest ways to motivate reluctant readers is to change WHERE he reads. Hands down, my kindergarteners’ most popular reading spot was the claw foot bathtub my teaching partner hauled into her classroom and packed with pillows.

Several years earlier, I popped up a tent in my classroom so that my second graders could “camp out” while they read. And as the weather turns warmer, we will all have a great excuse to pack a picnic and read outside under a shady tree.

These reading Bingo sheets are packed with playful, motivating ideas kids will LOVE.

Reading Bingo Sheet

Find Books They Love

Growing up, I was a big Berenstain Bear fan. I collected them ALL and carefully saved my copies for my children so that they could fall in love with the series too.

Fast forward many years and I now see my 2.5 year-old running away from me saying, “No Mommy! I don’t like that book!  I want this one.”  Two words: dreams. shattered.

Sometimes encouraging children to read requires letting go of the books that we WANT them to enjoy and letting them choose the books that they actually find interesting.  For example, several of my most reluctant second grade readers fell in love with graphic novels because they use detailed images and minimal writing to tell a story.

A few favorites included The Adventures of Ook and Gluk and Rick and Rack and The Great Outdoors.  Once they found a book that interested them, they were motivated to read for longer periods of time.

Talk About Books

My 2.5 year-old loves to ask “Why?” and, although I know it is just a stage that he will eventually grow out of, hearing him ask “Why?” questions as we read together reminds me about the importance of helping children connect stories with their own lives.  After all, no one wants to waste time doing something that has no purpose!

We can help children connect to books by asking questions including: “What does this story make you think about?”  “What would you do if you were the main character?” and “What do you think the author wants us to learn?”  By making it clear WHY we read, many children will be motivated to learn HOW we read.

Download a free printable list of my 20 favorite read aloud questions to keep in your favorite reading spot.

Help EVERY Reader Thrive!

Request an invite to my 4 week course, The Reading Roadmap, so you can get the proven, ready-to-deploy system for helping EVERY student get bigger, faster reading results!

Our members get MORE!

4 Comments

  1. Cindy

    Thanks, Malia! It was fun to find my reading map linked here. But mostly, I’m just so excited that it led me to your blog. You’ve got some really fabulous stuff out here that I’ll be using with my kiddos this summer! Love the Kindergarten Busy Bags!!

    Reply
    • Malia

      Thanks Cindy! I’m a big fan of your blog and had fun reading through it this week. Your reading map is brilliant!

      Reply
  2. Deb Roethle

    Could you send the reading scavenger hunt so I could download it to my computer? I can’t access the way you send it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Hi Deb,
      Thanks for reaching out.
      The Free Reading Scavenger Hunt is a freebie on another blog that we’ve linked to. If you can’t download it there, you’ll need to reach out to that blog to get the freebie.
      Warmly,
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador

      Reply

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Hi, I’m Malia.

I LOVE helping Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade teachers save time, stay inspired and give EVERY student bigger results. I’m so glad you’re here!