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help! when kids hate reading: 3 tips for parents

Sep 14, 2012 // 13 comments // Categories: comprehension, reading // Tags: , , , , , , .

what to do when kids hate readingIt’s hard–I get that.

Parenting in general is a tough gig, but when your child dislikes something that you love?

Something that comes as naturally to you as walking or breathing? Something that has been a part of your life for as long as you can remember?

Something that you teach?

What then?

What do you do when your child really, truly, totally and completely hates reading?

What do you do when your little sweet ray of sunshine would rather lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, than reading a book before he sleeps?

What do you do when those hours upon hours spent snuggling with your tiny one, reading book after book after book after book, has turned–overnight–into a distant, far-off dream?

I don’t have all of the answers, by any means, but I understand this situation more than I ever thought–or hoped.

I get it in a way that I never imagined I would, being that my own son at this point would rather walk on fire than sit down, unprovoked, to read a book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • What to do When Kids Hate Reading– 3 Tips for Parents: My Owen is still very young–7 years old–and only in first grade, so it’s not like we’ve been experiencing this for years on end.

 

In fact, Owen’s only been reading now for about a year.  But the race to read was so exciting!

He loved it!  He was challenged!  He was engaged!

I’m not sure what happened, but you better believe that I’m doing my best to get my boy interested and eager to read once again.

Find out what 3 Tips I offer to other parents–and the tips that I’m practicing myself–over at PBS Parents: 

 

Or check out some fab literacy-related boards on Pinterest

Or the following articles on Moms Homeroom:

It’s a work in progress, and I’m learning as I go. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

 

fyi: This blog post is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom’s Homeroom. Mom’s Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats.

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  1. I’ve never found any kid who hates reading. However, there are plenty who hate what they are reading (or, most often, what’s available to read or what they’re forced to read). Even before our children learned to read, my wife found books on anything that they were interested in. Whatever it was, there’s always a book. They came to associate books with things that interest them. All grew up to be voracious readers. Now their children are becoming voracious readers. It’s a legacy as much as it’s a habit.

    Reply
    • Jack! What a great way of looking at things; I really appreciate this response and your insight and will continue to do my best to find books for my boy that interest him!

      Reply
  2. Have you heard of the children’s book by Nancy Carlson: I HATE TO READ? Cute story for less than eager readers. Your situation sounds like it is improving, thank goodness. First grade boys usually don’t love reading the first part of the year, I want you to know you aren’t alone! Carolyn

    Reply
    • Carolyn–YOU are so awesome. Thank you so much for always being there to help me see the brighter side–I really appreciate it!!! I will take that book and the fact that first grade boys don’t always love reading in the first part of the year, and I’m going to breathe deeply!

      Reply
  3. I have found that the kids who hate reading the most are the ones who struggle with it the most. Who wants to do something that is tough? Certainly not I. I am amazed at the amount of kids that hate reading, but pleasantly pleased with the amount that at least like it when they have the skills they need to succeed.

    Reply
    • Joanne–Also agree that the majority of kids who dislike reading don’t have the skills they need to really enjoy reading, but I wonder if some kids just don’t naturally reach for a book even if their skills are up to par?

      Reply
    • I agree that this can be the case a lot of the time, but the same way we don’t all love chocolate, as crazy as that sounds, some people just don’t love reading, regardless of their abilities. We are all individuals with differences galore. And that’s not to say kids can’t learn to enjoy it, eventually. But I think it’s okay if your child knows how to read and uses it in their lives for work and learning, but doesn’t do it for entertainment purposes.

      Case in point (and it’s early to determine if he will love or tolerate reading as he grows up): My son’s reading abilities are amazing to only be five (not only his word recognition, but his fluency and comprehension as well), but he doesn’t love reading by himself, yet. He LOVES when I read to him and he LOVES talking about books and making his own. The library is one of his favorite places. But when it comes time for him to read something by himself he just doesn’t love that, yet. He mildly likes it when he is researching something in order to do something else with the information, like create a picture or a book or to incorporate it into his pretend play. And I will take that in a heartbeat because last year when he first began reading he HATED it all. My point here is that there has to be a purpose for him to read. Reading for entertainment purposes just isn’t his cup of tea at the moment. The other day, he wanted to draw a realistic (his words) monster truck for me to laminate for him to pretend with. He specifically asked me to take him to the library to get a monster truck book. We did and he didn’t mind reading it knowing what the purpose of reading it was. He is very logical that way, I guess.

      What I also think happens sometimes (and I think this is partly the case with my little fellow) is that some children are such perfectionists/competitors that no matter how good of a reader they are for their age, they realize that it isn’t just like mom or just like older sister. I base this solely on my son saying he can’t read well like me and that’s why he doesn’t want to read to me, so take that theory with a grain of salt. He is comparing/contrasting and recognizes the difference in my reading and his and he feels like he doesn’t measure up.

      Another part of it, I think, is that parents and teachers do a lot of forcing before children are developmentally ready to handle the complexities of reading. It’s not just being able to read and comprehend the words. As soon as my son was showing signs of reading readiness, I jumped on the wagon to teach him how to read. Well, I didn’t take into account the other parts of his development that could affect how he feels about reading. At the time (and even now at times), taking the time to read is time away from some physical activity or pretending activity he really wants to do. I’ve learned my lesson. And even though my four year is reading some already and I do reading with him, I don’t push it. When he’s done, I’m done. And I’ve backed off the older son as well. Even though the older son has the reading ability to read chapter books, he doesn’t have the maturity or patience to do it. If I force him to do it right now (when there is absolutely no need to have to be reading books like that) then I am sure to make him hate reading.

      With all that said, I still want all three of my children to love reading for all the reasons there are to read, so Amy, I appreciate any information you pass along to help me reach that goal. I love your blog so very much and your positive outlook on teaching and parenting are refreshing.

      Reply
      Brandy
      25/09/2012
      • Brandy–
        You are so correct on so many points here! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to write–you always rock it, girl!!

        I love what you say here:
        Another part of it, I think, is that parents and teachers do a lot of forcing before children are developmentally ready to handle the complexities of reading. It’s not just being able to read and comprehend the words. As soon as my son was showing signs of reading readiness, I jumped on the wagon to teach him how to read. Well, I didn’t take into account the other parts of his development that could affect how he feels about reading. At the time (and even now at times), taking the time to read is time away from some physical activity or pretending activity he really wants to do. I’ve learned my lesson. And even though my four year is reading some already and I do reading with him, I don’t push it. When he’s done, I’m done. And I’ve backed off the older son as well. Even though the older son has the reading ability to read chapter books, he doesn’t have the maturity or patience to do it. If I force him to do it right now (when there is absolutely no need to have to be reading books like that) then I am sure to make him hate reading.

        I think there’s a fine line between pushing and encouraging, especially in schools today–and if we as parents make it as fun–and light!–as possible, like you said, ‘When he’s done, I’m done’–we’re all better off. Finding ways of making reading fun, tangible, and relevant–sometimes easier said than done, right?

        I will DEFINITELY look more into how to make reading fun for our little guys who are less likely to pick it up for pleasure, bc really, that’s where Owen is right this very day. I’m trying, trying, trying, and learning as I go. You better believe I’m grabbing you along for the ride, Brandy, my longtime friend! xoxoxo

        Reply
  4. If it’s any comfort, I had a tough time learning to read. My parents loved to read, I was surrounded by reading materials, and yet, I struggled. I was the last one in my class to read the whole basic list of words (this was when kids learned to read in 1st grade). There was probably some mild unrecognized dyslexia in the mix as well.

    In second grade, my teacher made us blank books of paper stapled together to write and illustrate to our hearts content. I loved it! I think that got me over the hump. I think she was the same teacher who had our parents take pictures of us doing things, and then made our own personal reader. And then… (and now)…I became a ridiculously voracious reader, with a huge vocabulary and a reader’s pronunciation (but that’s another issue)!
    Free reading (on topics of ones choice) seems important. It hooked me.

    Reply
    Marie
    19/09/2012
    • Marie–thanks so much for sharing your story–I really, truly appreciate it!! I am always interested to hear what got kids over the ‘reading bump’ and when it occurred–many thanks, my friend!

      Reply
  5. I absolutely love all of the feedback… I am at my wit send with my five year old GIRL, whom wants NOTHING to do with books, spelling, reading, even apps on the iPad books, interactive story reading, words, printing, NOTHING! I have been TRYING to actively teach her reading through ART, speech therapy, nothing, I’m getting no where. She HATES reading, BO, IT does NOT MATTER WHAT it’s about, no not even FROZEN….it breaks my heart cuz me and my teen at avid readers and it was both our LOVES as young children and even now… I have been trying for five years. She wants NOTHING to do with even WORDS. LETTERS MAYBE, but not if they’re written typed or seen … I don’t know WHAT TO DO NOW!!! So to the first commenter that has much to offer in words that sound good on page: YES, in FACT there ARE children that just plain have NO interest in reading. I have tried ALL!! MP3 files, YouTube story reading videos, audiobook memberships, printable coloring books, printable black and white books, printable color books, easy books, SHORT books, PICTURE books, I have tried flash cards Storynory,com …..sooo MANY places. NOTHING, I get walked away from or ignored. However, I refuse to give up. I refuse to quit trying! I think that means thee very most :Zd Thank you TeachMama for SOO Many of your helpful useful posts words and activities!!

    Reply
    • Jeanine! YOU are doing such a good job–I just KNOW it!! You’re trying, you’re staying in the game, and you are aware of the fact that reading is THAT important that it’s worth fighting for!

      My unsolicited advice? Take a break. YOU read, you simply enjoy reading in your free time, talk about the books and articles you’re reading, and maybe–just maybe–it’ll show her how cool it is?

      THANK YOU for your kind words and for taking the time to write–it means so much!! Keep me in the loop, my friend!!

      Reply

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