How to Motivate Reluctant Readers

300_2763536As a teacher, I wasn’t always thrilled with all of the reading materials available for me. After all, some phonics and basal readers are quite boring. I could see why some of my reluctant readers wouldn’t want to read these. Yet, luckily, there is an entire world full of interesting reading materials. Here are some tips on how to motivate reluctant readers.

Give them High Interest Readers

I was looking through some older ‘learn to read’ books from the 1970s and ’80s. They were painfully boring and had non-existent plots. Yet, luckily there are some more interesting books out there for beginning readers. Step into Reading is a program from Random House that has five levels of books. I Can Read is another leveled program from Harper Collins. There are levels for readers who need more help to levels with basic chapters. When my daughter was in kindergarten, we started with the basic books. These had repetitive sentence structure and vocabulary that made it easier for beginning readers.


There are plenty of inappropriate magazines out there. However, there are also some very fun and educational ones in circulation too. The shorter articles and colorful pictures can be less overwhelming than a thick novel with long paragraphs. My kids have a subscription to Highlights Magazine. High school students may enjoy Mental Floss. You can also give your child a magazine to a hobby, subject or sport they are interested in such as dirt bikes, tennis or science.

Song Lyrics

Does your child have a favorite song? I’m thinking there are plenty of kids out there who really love the song “Let it Go.” A great idea to encourage kids to read is to get them some song lyrics. This way they can sing their way to being a more fluent reader.

Give them Reading Material related to a Favorite Movie

Does your child have a movie they want to see or have seen? Giving them literature connected to a movie they are already interested in may pique their interest. However, be warned that some books made into movies might be at a sophisticated reading level (I was pleased to find “The Hobbit” was said to be at a sixth grade reading level). Thus, before giving your child a book, check its reading level with this Book Wizard tool. If you find it is above their independent reading level, you can always read it to them or download an audio of version of it.

Reaching reluctant readers doesn’t have to be a struggle.