3 Reasons Why Your Child Won’t Read

There are a few different reasons why your child won’t read. In many of my posts, I give suggestions on how to get a child to read. In my opinion, the reason why some children love to read is that they can read – they have the skills. And they enjoy reading – they’ve found a book that got them hooked! Some children continue to love to read, but some children won’t read!!

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For the children who HATE to read, there is hope!  I’ve tried to analyze this over the years and have broken it down into 3 reasons why your child won’t read (in my opinion). As a teacher and library media specialist, I have come upon many different levels of love, like, hate of reading.

1. The Kids that Can Read, But Don’t Want to!

  1. The defiant child – the child that refuses to read. They may be a good reader, possess the skills, but just don’t like to read.
  2. The distracted child – the child who may be a good reader, but who can’t concentrate to read.
  3. The immature reader – a child who is not physically and /or socially developed and has few skills that prepare them to read.
  4. The “too cool” kid – the child who thinks that reading is not cool and just won’t sit down to read a book.
  5. The techy child – the child who is only interested in technology, who is often a good reader, but only wants to read if it’s on a website, tablet, etc.

Your child may fit into one of these types or a few of them! One book or idea doesn’t work for all children so keep trying different books and ideas. Also, check out the posts below (there’s even more listed at the bottom of this page).

How to Help a Reluctant Reader
How to Get a Reluctant Reader to Read!

And Check out my Recommended Books on these Genre Pages:


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2. The Kids that Lack Reading Skills, but Do Not Have a Reading Disability

  1. The struggling reader –  a child who lacks the mastery of the basic reading skills
  2. They hyperactive child – the child who doesn’t sit still and may be satisfactory readers, but can’t slow down long enough to be a reader who actually enjoys reading.
  3. The foreign language child – this child is from a different culture and has not been able to learn the English language.
  4. The challenged reader – a child who has physical problems – dyslexia, learning disability, hearing issues, visual issues, etc.
  5. The emotional child – the child who’s having personal problems and because of them, the child is having a hard time concentrating.


Your child may fit into one of these types or a few of them! Your child just may need more practice or they may stumble over just one of the reading components. As long as your child has been tested and the problem is not an actual reading disability, just keep working on the problem area/areas.

Reading Rockets has a helpful document on targeting the problem and they also have tons of other great resources for parents.

Just a few suggestions to get your child reading and practicing:

  • Give your child a choice of any book they would like to read.
  • Read-aloud to your child.
  • Read and reread the same book to help with fluency.
  • Fill your home with different types of reading material – magazines, fiction, nonfiction, etc
  • Hire a tutor – contact me at mrs.dehm@gmail.com for questions or suggestions.
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                      A Child Should be Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade

Through regular classroom testing and state testing scores, your child’s teacher will usually know the problem. One of the first tests a teacher gives a child is an oral reading test. During this test, a child reads a passage and the teacher checks off items/comments such as how long it takes the child to read the passage, how many mistakes are made, hesitations, how many corrections are made, etc.


1. Oral Language – a child’s understanding of the structure of language.

Just talk A LOT! Ask your child questions, talk, read, etc. to your child!

2. Phonemic Awareness – a child being able to hear the sounds in words.

This Fly Guy Phonics Book has easy pages filled with phonics.

3. Letter recognition/Identification – when a child sees a letter, he/she should be able to recognize the letter and be able to identify it.

Depending on your child’s age, use games, flashcards, stickers, etc.


4. Letter/Sound Correspondence– a child needs to know each letter and the sound that goes with that letter.

This Youtube video teaches the long and short vowel sounds.

5. Sight Words – these are words that each child should practice so that they will know them immediately when they see them in their reading.

6. Vocabulary – a child should know the meaning of many words.

This website has some great suggestions on how to teach your child new vocabulary.

7. Comprehension – a child will also need to put the words and meanings together to be able to understand what he/she is reading.

Check out this post I wrote on Comprehension:

10 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Reading Comprehension

This information by Reading Rockets explains the reading process, evaluation, etc., and below are a few more of my posts that can help. They’re fun and easy ideas for your child to practice reading. Make it fun!


3. The Kids that Have a Reading Disability

This category is a lot of what is from the above information in the second reason why your child won’t read. It’s a combination of won’t read because they can’t read, but they can’t read well because they have a learning disability.

These are just some of the characteristics of reading disabilities

  • Inability to connect letter to its sound
  • Poor fluency or flow of reading
  • Incorrect or slow pronunciation of words
  • Trouble with handwriting
  • Poor comprehension or understanding of what they are reading
  • Problems reading with correct expression
  • Can’t remember sight words

There are three major types of reading disabilities:

Phonological deficit – Dyslexia is usually applied to this group. These children have a problem connecting the sound with the letter, sounding out words, spelling, etc.

Processing speed/orthographic Processing deficit – These children are slow to recognize words and read words.  Sight words are especially tricky for them and tend to spell phonetically but not accurately.

Comprehension deficit – These children decode words better than they can comprehend or understand what they are reading. Because they can decode words, they are not considered dyslexic.

Sometimes a child has a combination of these deficits. If your child’s teacher feels that there is a reading disability, they will request testing. Of course, if you feel that testing should be done before it is suggested, you can discuss that with your child’s teacher.

If testing shows that your child does have a disability, the school will most likely get your child additional services.

There are also a lot of resources available to help a child with a reading disability

Reading Rockets has resources on tons of topics related to reading and reading deficits.

This website has free activities to use for a child with dyslexia. 

A Strategy for Teaching Students with Processing Disorders How to Read

And Check out some of my other posts:

  • There are tons of book suggestions and resources available to you and your child regardless of why your child won’t read. Please email me with any questions at mrs.dehm@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you and help with any questions or problems.