Why Does My Child Hate Reading?

Why Does My Child Hate Reading?

I have always loved reading. When I was a little girl, I would go down to my grandmother’s bookcase in her basement and pull out my favorites from her assortment of children's books. I have fond memories of reading from her Dr. Seuss collection and her wide array of fairy tale books with flaps and pop-ups and moving parts. I’m not quite sure where my love of reading originated from, but I do remember that we had a bookshelf full of picture books from which my mom would read to us. As I grew older, she would always encourage reading. I LOVED going to the book fairs at school, or picking out books from the Scholastic book magazines they’d send home. I’ve noticed, however, that many kids these days have a strong hatred for reading. Why do so many kids hate reading? And how can we teach our children to enjoy reading to the point that they turn to books instead of technology? 

Figuring out why your child hates reading is the first step into helping them learn to enjoy reading. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I make reading into a chore or assignment that has to be completed BEFORE they can have fun? When reading is approached in this way, it implies that reading is a task to be checked off a list rather than an activity to be enjoyed.

  2. Do they enjoy the topics or types of books they are reading?

  3. Are the books they are reading too difficult/easy for them?

  4. Do they understand what is happening in the story?

After figuring out why your child is not enjoying reading, you can better help him or her solve the issue. Here are some ways that I’ve noticed from my own life that may help your own kiddos learn to love reading:

  1. Read out loud to children often: Both of my children love reading. A big part of this is that I have read to them every night since they were born. This allows them to have a positive association between reading and quality time together as a family. Even as children get older and leave the picture book phase, continue to read out loud to them from books they enjoy. 

  2. Let children pick their own books: Letting kids pick books with topics that interest them makes reading more enjoyable. Do your kids like video games? Try graphic novels. Do your kids like playing outside? Find a nature exploration book. I am a strong believer that nobody truly hates reading. If someone makes this claim, it’s because they just haven’t found the right book yet.

  3. Read books on the correct reading level: Don’t assume that just because your child is in second grade that they will be reading at a second grade level. Some kids may fall behind, and some may be more advanced. For those that are below the reading level of their peers, reading can cause them to feel discouraged, inadequate, or embarrassed. If this is the case, try giving them books that contain a few pictures and have fewer words per page. For advanced readers, the books they are reading may be too simple. Give them books that challenge them a bit to help them stay engaged and excited about reading.

  4. Be an example of reading in your home: Read from your own books often. If your kids see you reading in your free time, they will learn that reading is important. I’ve noticed that the more I read, the more my daughter goes to her own bookshelf to pull out books. However, if I’m watching TV, she asks to play on her iPad or watch her own show.

  5. Display books around your home: If your books are hidden away in a closet, your kids will be less likely to go find a book to read. However, if you have them visible and easily accessible, it makes reading an easy choice when boredom strikes. I like to put bookshelves in my kids rooms as well as our family room. Try displaying books in different ways to make the books look attractive and fun. Try sorting them by color, or by displaying the covers facing out. One of my favorite things to do is to highlight a few books each week by standing them upright on top of our bookshelf.  It’s a fun way to display books that haven’t been read in a while.

  6. Interact with the story: Ask your kids questions about what’s happening on the page. This is not intended to be a reading pop quiz, but a way to get kids engaged. Here is an example of some interactive conversations you could have while reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears: “What did Goldilocks do wrong? How do you think the bears will feel about that?” You can also engage in a fun way by having kids make choices about things they may see in the illustrations. For example: “Which of the bear’s chairs would you put in our house? Which of the beds do you think has the prettiest quilt on it?” This makes the story much more fun for little ones.

There is so much beauty in a good book. And teaching children to love reading is giving them a gift that can bless them throughout their lifetime. Books are not just a way to pass time, but a way to escape the stresses of our lives, to learn lessons that we can apply to our own situations, and to create bonds with our kids that will last a lifetime.

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