Why doesn’t my child want to read?

I’ve been teaching 12-14 year olds the wonderful world of English Language Arts in a small school district in Salt Lake City for three years. I find it interesting that every class I have ever taught has had at least one student, (boy or girl) who vocalizes nearly every day that they don’t like reading. I don’t take it personally that they don’t enjoy reading, but I’ve been trying to figure out why.

Why do some kids resist reading? What is it that they dread?

In my 7th grade classes, nearly every student recalls with fondness, that special time after lunch when an elementary school teacher read a book out loud. One or two students will claim that they didn’t like it, that it was boring. BUT, they remember the teacher, and they remember the book. So when we begin reading a book together, most everyone will pick up their copy, find the page, and follow along. And when it’s their turn to read aloud, even if they’re not really confident in their reading ability, they’ll try, even for just a few sentences.

In my 8th grade classes, often with students I taught the previous year, they’ll deny that they enjoyed that after-lunch-story-time. The number of students refusing to pick up the book, and find the page goes up. They can read, but when called upon to read out loud,  they refuse to do it. They are resistant to practice reading.

There are many factors in why students don’t like to read, and I’ve been trying to figure out what they are in hopes of finding a solution. There are probably others, but so far I’ve come up with the following:

  • A multi-lingual student isn’t confident reading in the first language, so isn’t excited to practice reading a second or third language.
  • Nobody reads at home, so why should they?
  • They haven’t found the right book yet.
  • Dyslexia, ADHD, and other cognitive issues make it difficult to decode information making reading confusing.

I think that there are solutions to all of these things. The problem is that every situation and person is different. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all fix.

I did discover a possible fix for some readers. An amazing colleague at my school shared with me the idea of using colored transparent sheets* to read through. Every student that tried them this week found the color that worked for them.

Ultimately, a skill like reading takes practice. The problem is knowing where to start. Is your reader struggling with letter sounds? If they understand letter sounds, do they understand the rules of word pronunciation? If they’re guessing at words, they might be focusing on word shapes. A good teacher or tutor should be able to sit down with you and your reader, provide a few word lists or paragraphs, and have a pretty good idea of where your reader doesn’t want to read.

It takes time. Patience and time.

If you have a question, I’ll try my best to answer it!

I hope this helps. Keep reading, I’ll be back later!



*Link provided for reference only. I don’t have any deals with vendors or their products.


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