Motivate Your Child to Read This Summer: Tips for Parents of Reluctant or Struggling Readers

July 1, 2013

 by Sandra Rief

Is your child a struggling or reluctant reader?  If so, getting your son or daughter to read over the summer is a challenge.  Here are some tips, strategies, and resources that should help motivate your child to read and enjoy doing so:



Find Books of Interest




Finding the right books is key for capturing your child’s interest.   Before heading to the library or book store, you might want to first check out some of the many lists of award-winning and “best” books for kids – what librarians, parent magazines, and others recommend as good books for kids of all ages and reading levels  (e.g., chapter books, read alouds, boys’ favorites, girls’ favorites, Children’s Choice , Caldecott and Newbery award winners).  There are tons of sources for recommended books. 


Even if your child can’t read the books they want independently, provide other ways of letting them hear books of interest.  Read them aloud to your child, read together (taking turns or having your child read any parts he/she can).  Take advantage of all the audio books that are available and listening to the audio version of books.  You can find just about anything in audio libraries. The public library has an extensive collection of audio books that can be checked out.   You may want to look into these, as well:


There is no limit to the benefit of being exposed to good literature and the various writing styles of several different authors. This does wonders for language/vocabulary development, building comprehension skills,  and providing a model for your child of good writing.  So, struggling readers shouldn’t be limited in book choices – even if the books are far beyond their ability to read by themselves.


For Independent Reading

But, for independent reading it is very important that your child find “just right” books.  This means books they can read without a struggle (with about 95% accuracy – knowing most of the words on the page).  In fact, the general rule of thumb for determining if a book is too hard or “just right”  is no more than 5 words on the page that are too difficult for them to read or understand.  Encourage your child to do independent reading with these easy-to-read books.  Doing so builds confidence as well as their reading fluency skills.  These are the kinds of books that can be read and reread aloud ( to you, younger siblings, or anyone who will listen).  It is also fun to practice oral reading by doing so  into a recording device.  Children tend to enjoy doing so and playing back to listen to their own recordings.


Not Just Books


Reading doesn’t mean just books.  Lots of other reading material is available that may motivate your child to read, such as:


Reading Games & Activities



 Your child may be motivated by some of the wonderful educational interactive websites that can be found online.   These are just a few:

*There are countless games (board games, word games, and others) that involve reading and build reading skills.  Many of those games that are good for strengthening  skills in sight word recognition, phonics, vocabulary, etc. will be shared in a future blog. 


Summer Reading Incentive Programs


You may interest your child in participating in a  free summer reading incentive programs.  Your local library may have one.  Also, here are some others: Barnes  & Noble, Scholastic Summer Challenge, Pizza Hut, Sylvan).  You may also want to set up your own program with your child.  Create a chart of some type, placing a sticker on the chart for each book read.  Then, reward your son or daughter with a special prize or privilege upon completing the chart or reaching a certain number of stickers.  Another option…you may encourage having your child track the number of pages read and providing a reward when x number of pages have been read.

Note:  I have written extensively on this topic of how to “hook in” and motivate struggling and reluctant readers in some of my books:  How to Reach & Teach All Children through Balanced Literacy,    The Dyslexia Checklist,   How to Reach & Teach Children with ADD/ADHD, 2nd ed.,   The ADD/ADHD Checklist, 2nd ed., and others. 






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