Saving the Reluctant Reader

During school visits I make it a point to ask the question, "Who likes to read?" Many enthusiastic hands always shoot up, but it has never been unanimous. It doesn't matter what state I'm visiting, it doesn't matter if the school is public or private, some children admit they do not enjoy reading. What can be done to entice those children to read?

First of all, don't panic. Figure out why the child shuns reading. Start with the most basic explanation by checking for physical impairments. Perhaps the words look blurry to the child. Maybe the letters run together or get switched around. An organic problem can make reading a frustrating experience.

Take a look at the reading material that is available to the child. Books are not "one size fits all". Children have different personalities and interests. Some children enjoy fiction, while others like non-fiction. Some devour graphic novels. How-to and do-it-yourself books can be of especially high interest to elementary age children. Let your child sample a variety of genres.

Make reading a habit. It's never too soon to start reading to your child. Even if the child is too young to follow a story, hold him on your lap and read. The child will learn to associate reading with love and comfort. Continue to read aloud to your child as he grows. Chapter books make great bedtime rituals for older kids. Even independent readers can enjoy a great read-aloud.

As an author and a lover of books, I want to encourage all children to read. When I'm at a school and I encounter those kids who say they don't like reading, I tell them it's because they haven't yet discovered the right book. The right book is out there for each child. Be a hero and help those reluctant readers find that book.

My goal is to see all the hands go up when I ask, "Who likes to read?"