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Reaching Reluctant Readers

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Child holding a picture book in a blanket fort with pillows and a teddy bear

Reaching Reluctant Readers

One of my favorite things about being a Youth Services Librarian is sharing my love and enthusiasm of reading with young people. Helping children discover the magic, wonder, and endless information that books provide is so rewarding. Finding that one book or book series that can change the mind of a child who usually doesn’t enjoy reading is incredible.

There are many reasons why children become reluctant readers: learning difficulties, not having reading role models, the distraction of technology and other forms of entertainment. Whatever the reason may be, there are many ways to encourage and reach reluctant readers. Format is one way. Traditional books are a turn off for some children these day since technology is such an enormous part of our lives. Luckily, there are e-books and e-audio books. These are electronic book versions that can be downloaded onto computers, tablets or even a phone. This versatile format will allow children to have access to books wherever they go.

Traditional books can also be daunting for a reluctant reader due to the content size of the book. Children learn in three ways: visually, aurally, and kinesthetically. Children who learn predominantly visually or kinesthetically can be overwhelmed by a thick book full of text. For this we have graphic novels. Graphic novels are stories presented in comic book format and are not periodicals. There are many great graphic novels that introduce readers to new vocabulary and concepts and have quality story lines. Audio books are another format. Audio books can allow children to enjoy a story while they move or even read along with it!

Sometimes it comes down to taking the time to discuss and discover the interests of our young patrons and finding books that support those interests. For instance, for the sports loving child who doesn’t like to read, there are many chapter books ranging from 2nd grade level and up written by Matt Christopher, whose topics cover a variety of sports.

There are also books with adventure themes, funny books, scary books, books that relate to children at the grade they are in, science fiction, mysteries, biographies, non-fiction, and books for beginner readers. There is such a variety available, that certainly even a reluctant reader can find something to enjoy. To quote James Patterson, “There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.”

Debbie Hurley
Youth Services Librarian

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