We all know that raising readers is a journey filled with ups and downs, especially if you have a reluctant reader on your hands. But fear not! As a former elementary school teacher turned book guru for busy moms, I’ve got some tried-and-true tips to help you light that reading spark in your child.

One of the most important things that you can do to help you child is to decrease the pressure that you are putting on them when it comes to reading. A love of reading grows when it truly is that: a love. Think about some of your hobbies or the people that you love the most and consider what it is that draws you to them. Do you share common interests? Was it because you saw someone else enjoying the hobby? I have a feeling it probably wasn’t because it was forced on you. With each of these ideas, keep that thought in the back of your mind. Here are the strategies I used as a classroom teacher to help many a reluctant reader enjoy books:

Interwoven with each point you’ll see some of my favorite book recommendations for a reluctant reader, too!

Reluctant reader books and strategies: a guide for parents with struggling readers. Image of mother and son reading together in a bed.

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1. Discover Your Reluctant Reader’s Interests

One of the keys to turning reluctant readers into book enthusiasts is finding books that match their interests. Sit down with your child and explore what makes their eyes light up. Whether it’s dinosaurs, superheroes, sports, or magical adventures, there’s a book out there waiting to capture their imagination.

Check out some of these book lists for the following topics:

2. Lead by Example

Kids often mimic the behavior of their parents. If they see you enjoying a good book, they’re more likely to want to join in the reading fun. Set aside some quiet reading time for yourself, and let your child see you immersed in the wonderful world of books. They will begin to see the value in it, as well.

If you are looking for some great books for moms to read, be sure to check out my top 10 favorites from 2023.

3. Make Reading Interactive

Reading doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Bring the story to life by incorporating hands-on activities. Act out scenes, create crafts inspired by the book, or even cook a dish mentioned in the story. This not only makes reading more engaging but also taps into different learning styles, which often appeals to reluctant readers.

For younger readers, be sure to check out this list of interactive story props that they will definitely enjoy!

4. Celebrate Small Wins

Every page turned is a victory! Celebrate the small milestones, whether it’s finishing a chapter or decoding a tricky word. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in building confidence and turning reading into a positive experience. That little notch in their belt might be all they need to push them on to reading one more book.

5. Create a Reading Nook for Your Reluctant Reader

Transform a cozy corner of your home into a reading haven. Add soft pillows, blankets, and, of course, a shelf filled with captivating books. Having a dedicated space for reading can make the experience more inviting and enjoyable. It’s another example of showing the value of reading to your kids.

6. Explore Different Formats

Not all kids connect with traditional books, so take some time to explore audiobooks, graphic novels, or interactive e-books with them instead. Often, a change in format can make a world of difference and open up new avenues for your child to fall in love with storytelling. These formats are often less overwhelming for reluctant readers.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are a fantastic bridge for reluctant readers. The combination of text and visuals can make complex stories more accessible and less overwhelming. The sequential nature of graphic novels encourages kids to follow the narrative closely, enhancing their comprehension skills. Choose graphic novels that align with your child’s interests (there is a graphic novel for every genre!), and enjoy exploring stories in a visually engaging format.

Graphic Novel Picks:

Nonfiction Books

Nonfiction books can be a great asset for reluctant readers, especially when they are broken into manageable chunks. Look for nonfiction books that combine text with captivating images, allowing your child to absorb information in bite-sized portions and, if they want, to skip around while they are reading. These books are perfect for exploring topics of interest without the pressure of reading cover-to-cover.

Nonfiction Picks:

7. Visit the Library Together

Make a trip to the library a regular family affair. Let your child explore the shelves and choose books that catch their eye. The library offers endless options for reluctant readers, and the experience of picking out their own books can be incredibly empowering. Be sure to chat with the children’s librarian because she might have some helpful suggestions and also be able to point you into a good direction for your child’s interests and needs.

8. Be Patient and Persistent

Building a love for reading takes time. It’s a skill that you and your child will be honing for a lifetime even. Be patient, stay persistent, and most importantly, don’t give up. It’s okay if progress is gradual; what matters is the journey you’re taking together. In fact, evidence from Frontiers in Psychology shows that “simple read-aloud experiences are not only positive for children, but have the potential to also positively impact the mood of adult readers who share books with a child.” You are growing a lasting bond, not just future success for your child.

9. Explore Captivating Book Series

Introducing your child to a book series can be a game-changer. The familiarity of characters and settings across multiple books provides a comforting structure for reluctant readers. Start with the first book in a series and read it together to establish the foundation. Once your child is acquainted with the world of the story, they’ll feel more confident tackling other books in the series.

Example Series:

10. Create a Reading Routine

Consistency is key! Establish a regular reading routine that becomes an integral part of your daily or weekly schedule. Whether it’s bedtime stories, weekend reading sessions, or a cozy reading nook after school, having a predictable reading time can make the experience more enjoyable and comforting for your child.

Our family reads for a short time after breakfast (my son’s tactic to delay getting ready for preschool), and then we also read before nap time and bedtime. He has come to expect those times and he loves bringing us his favorite books to snuggle up and read.

Remember, every child is unique, so feel free to mix and match these strategies to find what resonates best with your reluctant reader. With a little creativity and a whole lot of patience, you’ll be nurturing a bookworm in no time.