Teacher Tips for Kids who HATE Reading

In a perfect world, all students would love to curl up with a good book and enjoy getting lost in a story. In reality though, we always have kiddos who avoid reading like it is the plague. Why? In my experience, kids usually say they “hate” reading for one of two reasons:

  1. Reading is hard for them.
  2. They believe reading to be boring.

It’s important to figure out the “why” so you know what steps to take next.

What to do if reading is hard:

If you have a student who hates reading because it is hard for them, then it is your job to create an environment where your student can be successful with reading. No one likes to continually do or try something that is too hard.

Step back and find something this student can read, even if it is below grade level. Once you find a text they can read, have them to read and reread the text. As they begin to read fluently, their confidence grows. Encourage them to read texts on their level. Praise their efforts. Allow this child to read to younger students, a stuffed animal, or another teacher in the building. For students who think they are bad readers, building confidence is crucial!

For reading instruction, group kiddos together for small group reading instruction that are of similar ability. Provide opportunities in a safe environment (free from embarrassment) for them to be a successful reader. Model and teach reading skills on their reading level. Use rewards often. If you want reading to become an enjoyable experience, reward progress and celebrate growth.

What to do if reading is “boring”:

Some students are good or even great readers, but don’t read because they think reading is boring. When I hear this from a student, I take it as a personal challenge. I will scour the ends of the Earth to find something they like to read! You must really get to know your students for this. What are they interested in? What hobbies do they have? What motivates them? Present these kids with a variety of texts on a variety of topics that may interest them. Give them a little tease into the text. Read just enough to make them want more.

Ways to encourage reading in your classroom:

Create a classroom environment that encourages reading. If you want your students to enjoy reading, then you have to take active steps to promote reading. Here are some ideas…

  • Allow students to choose what they read. This is my best advice for getting students to read. Provide a variety of texts and let students choose what interests them.
  • Let students see you read.  Discuss what you are reading with your students and share your excitement with them.
  • Do read-alouds in the classroom. Model good reading by reading aloud in the classroom a variety of texts. I read books/ text aloud as much as possible in the classroom to reinforce learning in all subject areas.
  • Provide access to a variety of texts. Don’t just have a classroom library of fictional stories on your grade level. Add in nonfiction text on a variety of topics, age-appropriate kids magazines, joke books, etc. Reading is reading. Make sure your classroom library is diverse and includes books on various levels.
  • Grab students’ attention by doing a book talk. A book talk is like a commercial. Give the students just enough information to get them hooked and wanting more. The back of the book is a great starting point for book talks.
  • Don’t use reading as a punishment. If you want your students to enjoy reading, then make it an enjoyable experience. Provide comfy seating in a cozy reading environment. Add in special reading privileges like a stuffed animal or access to a special chair in the room.
  • Provide external motivation. Create a reading competition (within your class or with another class) or set up a reading reward system. Make sure you create rewards that work for all your readers, not just the best ones.
  • Use audiobooks. It is easier than ever to gain access to audiobooks or read-alouds online. Have students follow along with the text.
  • Extend reading with fun activities. Read the book then watch the movie for comparison. If the book talks about making oatmeal cookies with grandma, bring in oatmeal cookies to munch on while reading. Take a field trip/ create an experience like in the book.
  • Make reading social. As students get older, the need for being social becomes greater. Use small reading groups to get students talking about the text. Set up book clubs in the classroom where students can choose a book of interest and complete activities with others based on their reading.

Looking for some high-interest text to add into your classroom instruction? Check out some of my non-fiction units below!

I hope these tips and tricks help you bring out a love for reading in all your students. Good luck!