How to Encourage Reluctant Readers

“But I don’t wanna read that book!”


Not all great books look as good as they actually “taste.”  Journey to the Center of the Earth, for instance, looks awfully thick, and some editions don’t have pictures. But letting kids in on a book’s sensory ingredients makes it much more appetizing – and if you can just get them to take a bite of the story, they’ll happily polish it off!  Whether you teach in a classroom or at home, these ideas will help your kids relax and give great books a chance.

Becky, Jenny, and Amy - 1971

That’s Becky at left, Jenny in the middle, and Amy on the right – 1971

Make a book sensory right from the start by making reading time a special event.  First, help the kids associate reading with an appealing change in their learning environment. Get them get out of their chairs and on to pillows in corners, blankets on grass, yoga mats under desks, any place where they can curl up or lie down. Signal the kids to move to this special reading area by playing story-relevant music as you enthusiastically announce Reading Time in the accent, dialect, or even the language of the book.  You might, for instance, play a sea shanty and exclaim “Shiver me timbers, mateys, it’s time to read Treasure Island!  Aaaarrrr!”  If it works in your situation, let them dress for the book if they want.  Getting the kids “into it” and laughing is always a good way to start!

Listening to a book, our sister Amy slips into Dreamland (1970)

Listening to Mother Goose tales, our sister Amy slips into Dreamland and watches them come to life – 1970

Once they’re settled, draw in your reluctant readers by letting them listen.  Read the book aloud, or play a well-done audio version of the book.  When kids hear the characters’ voices, the dramatic pauses, the emotions, and the correct pronunciation of new words, they pay more attention to the story.  They also appreciate it when you pause to briefly paraphrase or explain unfamiliar content.  Helping them like a story is the easiest way to begin follow-up discussions and supportive activities.

Bring the sights and the sounds of the book to life.  See our website for helpful, organized links to support the reading of 40+ wonderful children’s books, all of which we’ve experienced through a four-hour LitWits workshop.  Let your kids see and hear the country, people, culture, music, creatures, traditions, dress, and much more! Use these resources to learn something new about the author or story, to enhance the story in three dimensional ways, to get project and activity ideas, or simply to help kids  “see and hear” a book.  Please help yourself to these FREE resources for teachers and kids — and have a blast bringing great books to “real life” with our multisensory, hands-on LitWits Kits.

Happy reading…

Jenny & Becky

Becky & Jenny, LitWits Workshops




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