We have all encountered students that proclaim they hate reading. Sometimes, students will even act out behaviorally to resist reading. Many teachers become distressed over this issue. You have to understand that it is not personal. It is not necessarily your teaching that causes them to be unengaged with the reading. Many teachers read for pleasure. It is difficult to grasp how someone could not enjoy reading. I was surprised the first time a student described that they did not see stories become “alive” while they read. It has been just words to them. I think this is an important difference in how people perceive reading. Some of us do enjoy reading for pleasure, but not all. Everyone does, however, read for information. It is a critical skill to have as an adult. I teach my students that knowledge is power. I would love for them to be experts in their choice of matter, but more importantly, they need to know to read and understand application procedures, legal documents, and other materials required to become a productive citizen of society. How do you solve that problem?
- Attempt to capture the interest of the reader. Again, not every student will read for pleasure. It may be, though, that the material they are reading is not of interest to them. I have several students that did not enjoy history, but were head over heels for science. I allow my students a short break at the end of class to discuss topics of their choice. If they mention a book, I ask them to bring it in for me to browse it. If they share a tidbit of information, I ask for their sources and proof. You would be surprised at how many students are eager to prove their information. If you use the ‘Genius Hour’ strategy, students are encouraged to research topics of their choice. A reluctant reader becomes an eager reader.
- Accommodations. Teachers may sometimes forget that not all students have access to reading at the same levels. Accommodations are legally mandated in some cases. In others, it may be beneficial to that student to provide accommodations that make reading more accessible. If it is “easier” for a student to read, it will increase that student’s use of reading. It could be as simple as paired reading or a text-to-speech technology.
- Team Effort. Gather your co-workers, parents, administration, and anyone else involved with the child. Brainstorm a list of subjects the student is interested in. Create an action plan for ten minutes a day to focus on their subjects of interest. It could be sharing a book, researching, or anything where they can read about their interests. Discuss it with them. There have been many times where parents have mentioned that their child is interested in a particular student. This is a signal to me of an “in” with the student. Use it to your advantage.
What other ideas or plans of action have you used to motivate a reluctant reader?