In an Educational Leadership article, author and literacy expert Pam Allyn, who has worked for ten years at a New York City residential school for foster children, suggests ways to get reluctant readers to read. Here are a few of her ideas:
• Offer a range of materials. “Students may be reluctant readers not because they lack basic skills, but because they haven’t been exposed to materials suited to their interests, ability, and temperament,” says Allyn. Search far and wide – websites, catalogues, friends and family, librarians – for books, graphic novels, and other texts that will hook your child.
• Let readers read at their comfort level. It’s important to assess children’s independent reading level and guide them toward “just right” texts – as well as those a little lower and a little higher to build fluency and skills. “Students should never be locked into one level,” says Allyn.
Parents, if you’re not sure about this one, look at the “5 Finger Test” inserted above for selecting “just right” books.
• Value browsing and rereading. These are legitimate activities for all readers. Rereading builds comprehension because people read differently every time they come back to a text. It’s also fun to read the same story by different authors.
• Remember, joy matters. “Most reluctant readers have experienced a great deal of anxiety and stress around reading in their lives,” says Allyn. “Let’s create a world for all readers that’s full of the joy of discovery, imagination, and information. The only way to do this is to make the world come alive with stories students will love and texts that connect to their passions.”