Why Doesn’t My Child Like To Read?

Many children will tell you that they don’t enjoy reading, they might even say they hate it, and when you dig a little deeper they’ll often say it’s because they can’t find any books they like. Sometimes this is true, and sometimes this is used as a defense mechanism because reading is hard and it makes them uncomfortable. If you’ve heard this from your child it can be difficult to know how to help them become confident in their reading ability. Here are some things not to do if you want your student to be a successful reader.
Limit Their Options
If you want your student to hate reading, you should definitely micromanage every aspect of their reading. Limit them to books that are right on their reading level. They can’t read “baby books” or books that are “too hard”, and they definitely shouldn’t reread a book no matter how much they enjoyed it.

In reality, kids need lots of options and the freedom to make their own choices if they’re ever going to be confident and enjoy reading. They need to experience success in order to build confidence, and if that means rereading a book for the fifth time or reading a book that’s geared towards a younger age group, then so be it! If a child is reading in their free time then it should be just that, free. So if they want to read a book that might be too challenging, then let them read it. Check in with them to see if they’re understanding the story (ask them questions, give them strategies for deciphering difficult words or phrases), but otherwise, just let them be.

Make Reading a Punishment
Taking every ounce of joy out of reading is a sure-fire way to get your child to hate it. The best option here is to force them to write long essays every single time they read a book, or better yet, several paragraphs after they finish each chapter. Pretty soon, they’ll stop reading altogether in order to avoid all that writing!

While book reports have their place, and are a great writing exercise, making your student write one after every single book they read is going to be overkill. The better option would be regular, casual conversations about what your student is reading. What do they like about the book? What do they dislike? Are they considering abandoning it, or do they think they’ll want to reread it when they’re done? Show them that you’re interested in their interests. Maybe they can even suggest some books for you to read!

Never Read in Their Presence
Never, ever, read a book yourself. This would send the message that it’s an enjoyable pastime and you don’t want your child to get the wrong idea. Reading is something that they’re forced to do in school and then will never have to do again once they grow up. It’s definitely not fun and definitely not preferable to watching TV or playing video games.

The truth is, actions speak louder than words. What you say doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do. If you tell your child(ren) that reading is important, but you never read, they’re not going to have a hard time figuring out how you really feel. Go to the library with your kids, check out your own books, and read them. Revolutionary, we know, but it really is the simple things that have the most impact.

At St. Barnabas Episcopal School, we understand the importance of allowing student interest to drive instruction. By allowing students to pursue their interests in reading, and other aspects of academics, they become engaged lifelong learners that will be successful regardless of where life takes them. The next time you’re on campus, take a trip to the library and pick out some books with your student. It could be the first step towards building a life-long common interest with your child.

Our mission is to challenge each student in a supportive environment that promotes academic excellence, sound moral values, and high self-esteem within a framework of God’s love.

Schedule your personal tour: