How to Help a Reluctant Reader

There are a lot of ways to help a reluctant reader, but one tip does not work for everyone and it may take time to find the one that sticks. Don't give up!

Over the years, as a teacher and library media specialist,  it has taken me a lot of time to figure out what usually works, so don't give up on your child! I have A LOT of ideas and suggestions so please keep reading through all of them!

help a reluctant reader



















When I think of how to help a reluctant reader, I think of mostly boys because in my opinion, they are the majority. Girls are also reluctant readers as well, but they are better at hiding the fact that they are. There are many different "types" of reluctant readers. I've broken it down:

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. Possibly, a 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. It could be 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.

The Kids that Lack Reading Skills

  1. The struggling reader -  a child who lacks the mastery of the basic reading skills
  2. Possibly, a hyperactive child - the child who doesn't sit still and can 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. It can be a challenged reader - a child who has physical problems - dyslexia, learning disability, hearing issues, visual issues, etc.
  5. Also, an emotional child - the child who's having personal problems and because of them, the child is having a hard time concentrating.

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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 I am pulling out every suggestion I have ever given - books, ideas, products, etc.

There are ways to help a reluctant reader, but it does not always happen quickly. Try these ideas/products/books and you just might get your child to read and enjoy reading! Once they get hooked on one book, they will usually search out for more! Also, a great resource is other kids! Teachers! Librarians!

Simple Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader

Read, Read, Read!
The most important of all of these ideas is to read with your child, share reading a book, have your child see you read a book, have books all over your house, etc. - PROMOTE READING!

Give Incentives and Motivations
I have a list of different ways and places to read on this post (read to a stuffed animal, read at the park, etc.) it's a list that can be checked off so you could give an incentive for every 5 items on the list that was completed, for every 10, etc. Email me at and I'll send you this document.







Read EBooks
E-books can be read on a Kindle or the Kindle Cloud. You can use it on a Kindle, iPad, etc. You can find them under the Kindle tab. They have most of the book titles available.

Dog Man ebook on Kindle or Kindle Cloud






Make Your Own Ebook
Creating a story and then making an ebook is a super fun project. If you have a Gmail account which is totally free, you have Google Slides and if you don't see it as an option, just type "Google Slides" in the menu bar at the top of the page and it will appear! Just follow the directions on this page and you'll have your ebook in no time!! That's a bit of writing and reading!!!

Read Big Print Books
Because the big print books have bigger fonts, a reluctant reader enjoys reading them more than the smaller print books. These books also appear to be larger because there are more pages and it makes some kids feel prouder because their book appears to be larger.  I know that seems strange!!! Here are a few big print books for some popular books:


Read Aloud
A child LOVES to be read to. I can walk into any classroom when a teacher is reading and 95% of the time the only noise is the voice of the teacher reading a favorite book!!! There is something magical about being read to and your child will probably love for you to read to them (or use a CD of a book).


Make it Fun!

Read Music and Sing and Dance!
Kids love to sing and dance! Get the lyrics of songs, watch video songs (like this one) and write down the lyrics and start singing and dancing! These are the lyrics to this song, they're easy and they repeat a lot so it's perfect for the struggling reader!


Complete a Learning Style Questionnaire
Check out this website and ask your child the questions to determine their reading style. The results after the 20 questions will let you know if your child is more of a visual, auditory or tactile learner. This can help you help your struggling reader with how you help with homework or try to teach a topic.

More Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader

Memory Help
Some struggling readers have a hard time keeping up with the rules of our language. This post goes over many strategies that can help your child remember what they need to do to get ready for school, the rules of the English language, tricky vocabulary, math facts, etc.





Magazines can sometimes interest reluctant readers because the articles are short and sweet. Most reluctant readers want books less than 100 pages, big fonts, with some pictures or sketches to break up the text so a magazine is perfect. Now you just need to find the topics that are interesting to your child. Once you know the type of topics your child is somewhat interested in, you can purchase a magazine subscription!    There are so, so many different magazines to select! Here are just a few:

Try purchasing a tablet, or if you have a table, try purchasing ebooks.  Kids love technology. Use that love to develop a love of reading, too. There are good electronic books (e-books) that kids can read on a Kindle,  an Apple IPad, an Amazon Fire,  a laptop computer, etc.


QR Codes with Stories

You can get an app called "QR Reader" and scan the codes from the internet (or other places) to find a video of a book. It's just a fun way to read or listen to a book. This is the website that has some of the codes/stories, but there are tons more.






I had to think long and hard about my favorite books for reluctant readers. I'd love you to share others that you have! If you click on the picture of the book, most of them let you preview a page which is PERFECT for your child to see! And most of these books are series so if your child likes one, you're good to go!


Ricky Ricotta Mighty Robot by Dave Pilkey. Getting picked on by creeps at your school? Wish you had a special friend? Meet Ricky Ricotta and his giant flying Robot! Young readers will cheer as Ricky and his enormous flying Robot friend soar through the air and battle the diabolical Dr. Stinky, an evil scientist who threatens to take over the world! (grades 2-6)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion. (grades 3-6)

Shipwreck by Gordon Korman. Luke, J.J. Will, Lyssa, Charla, and Ian. They didn't want to be on the boat in the first place. And they did not want to be stuck at sea with a bunch of strangers. But when you're in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there's no easy way out. And when a terrifying storm hits, there's no way to fully prepare. It's all about survival. (grades 3-8)

Bone by Jeff Smith. The three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone find themselves in a deep, dark forest filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. (grades 3-6)

Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi. A sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement where they come upon an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.  (grades 3-5)

More Great Books for Reluctant Readers!

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey. When Greg the police dog and his cop companion are injured on the job a life-saving surgery changes the course of history and Dog Man is born. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound has a real nose for justice. This a new hero has no problem going after crooks and robbers to get the job done!! (grades 3-8)

13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths. This story is about Andy and Terry who live in a treehouse. But it's not just any old treehouse, it's the most amazing treehouse in the world! It's 13 stories with a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, etc. Life would be great except there are so many distractions (13 flying cats, giant bananas, mermaids, etc.) that they can't write their next book! (grades 3-8)



The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn. Twelve-year-old Florence looks forward to a new life with her great uncle and aunt at Crutchfield Hall, an old manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, she thinks, than the grim London orphanage where she has lived since her parents' death.  But Florence doesn't expect the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield! (grades 4-8)

I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer. Jackie Robinson lived at a time before the Civil Rights Movement, when the rules weren't fair to African Americans. Even though Jackie was a great athlete, he wasn't allowed on the best teams just because of the color of his skin. Jackie knew that sports were best when everyone, of every color, played together. He became the first black player in Major League Baseball, and his bravery changed African-American history and led the way to equality in all sports in America. (grades 2-5)

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie by Zack Zombie. This book is a diary of an actual 12-year old Minecraft Zombie. It explains what really goes on between the hollow eyes and dead expression that is normally seen on the face of the dreaded Zombies of Minecraft. (grades 2-5)


Miss Daisy is Crazy! by Dan Gutman. In the first My Weird School book ever, second-grade teacher Miss Daisy is in over her head. She doesn't even know how to add or subtract! But the kids have other things on their minds. Principal Klutz has promised that if they read a million pages in books, they can turn the school into a video-game arcade for one whole night! (grades 2-4)

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey.  Meet George and Harold in these five hilarious adventures with the amazing Captain Underpants, as they duel Dr. Diaper, tackle the talking toilets, clash with the crazy cafeteria ladies, plot against Professor Poopypants, and wrestle the wicked Wedgie Woman. Overflowing with humor, action, and lots of super silly events!! (grades 2-5)

Middle School the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson. With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class--5,000 points! Running in the hallway--10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm--50,000 points! (grades 3-6)

More Great Book Ideas for a Reluctant Reader!

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 by Lauren Tarshis and Scott Dawson. Ten-year-old George Calder can't believe his luck! He and his little sister, Phoebe, are on the famous Titanic, crossing the ocean with their Aunt Daisy. The ship is full of exciting places to explore, but when George ventures into the first class storage cabin, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George's life changes forever. (grades 2-5)

Pokemon Adventures by Hidenori Kusaka.  This series is an adventures of Red as he tries to make friends with Pokémon as well as training them, while Team Rocket tries to steal his Pokémon at every turn.  (grades 2-5)

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Raina severely injured her two front teeth! She needs braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached!  (grades 3-5)

Ripley's Believe it or Not! A Century of Strange! by Ripley's Believe it or Not! the 15th book in the bestselling series, is packed with all the unexpected stories and images you've come to expect from them. This book is filled with thousands of strange stories, bizarre feats, and hair-raising oddities from around the world. Discover how one barber cuts hair with fire or marvel at blue lava spewing from a volcano—it’s all weird and all true! (grades 3-8)

Speed Receiver by Jake Maddox. Andrew's been improving his speed at the wide receiver position.  Trying to impress his brother is not as easy as he'd like it to be!  He will need to work overtime to lead his team to victory and impress his older brother. (grades 2-5)

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. This book is a timeless collection of chillingly scary tales and legends, in which folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up some most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time! (grades 4-8)

Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine. Discover the original bone-chilling adventures that made Goosebumps one of the bestselling children's book series of all time! Discover the fan-favorite thriller and chiller that first introduced the world to the wooden face of fear. The puppet who pulls all the strings. None other than Slappy the Dummy! (grades 4-8)

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View Book Trailers
This is a book trailer for a very popular series that kids love. You can go on Youtube and type in "book trailers for kids" and type in the grade level or age of your child. When I have shown these in the library, the kids LOVE them and want to read the book!! Sometimes the older kids' book trailers are not properly labeled so just be aware of that. There are tons of them!!!


Make a Book Trailer
You can make a book trailer in Google Slides (also a free tool if you have a Gmail account) or Animoto which is also free. You basically save pictures to your computer that connect to a book and then you upload them and create a story with captions of what the story is about.


Buy items that Promote Reading and Learning

These items on this post can help reluctant readers - products such as highlighted bookmarks, auditory feedback phones, games, stickers, etc.






Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are found online for free and you can also pay for some subscriptions. You can listen to them in the car, before bed, etc. There are some author podcasts in addition to the story podcasts.

More Ideas to help a Relucant Reader

Read in bed

This is a great way to get kids reading. Since almost no kid wants to go to sleep right away, give your child the choice between going to bed or staying up late to read a book in bed. Breaking the rules might just motivate your child to read.


Read with a Reading Headlamp!!    
Skip buying a reading lamp. Buy a headlamp—the light is brighter and covers a wider area. Then kids can also read in the car at night (including during longer trips where it’s tempting to let them overdose on video games or movies), in a tent or in a cabin at camp, or when staying over with friends or relatives.


Even More, Ways to Help a Reluctant Reader

Read Books with Movies
Want to see the movie? Read the book first. Or vice-versa. In my experience, reluctant readers LOVE when they know that they can compare the book to a movie. Questions to ask are: What was in the book that wasn’t in the movie? Did the movie match the way your child imagined things? Were the characters how you pictured them? Which one did your child like better, and why? (In my opinion, usually, the book beats the movie hands-down.)

Books on Tape

Listening as you read along with a book helps all types of reading skills. Some of my most reluctant readers want to listen to audiobooks (and it's important for them to also read along with the book even though they'll try not to)!  It's also a great idea to listen to a cd in the car. The child will get a feel of the story, pick up on new vocabulary, the fluency of the reading, etc. Here is one example of the CD and book. I LOVE this story:


Wonder - Book on Tape CD


Wonder - book

Kids love these topics and they love building and making things. These ideas are great for presents or holiday gifts and they get kids reading directions and problem-solving!

Some of my other posts on this website - check them out:


There are many ways to help a reluctant reader to read. You can try introducing some of these ideas a little at a time or try one idea right after the other. You know your child. They’ll let you know if they want you to give it a rest!!

As always, please leave a comment or question below or email me at or I’d love to hear about something that worked to get your child to read!!!