Sometimes, it can seem like reading is the answer to everything. If your student hates writing—get them to read. If you want to teach them history—let them read historical fiction. If your trying to instill a solid grasp of grammar—there’s no better way than reading.
But—what if my student hates reading? What if the answer for everyone else is actually my problem? What am I supposed to do, if my student hates reading?
I don’t know about you, but a lot of the time, I feel like I’m the exception. I feel like the books and articles I read, and the people I listen to, have everyone else’s problems figured out but mine. And sometimes, I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.
But don’t worry. There really is an answer to everyone’s problems—even if it isn’t the subject of all the latest blog posts or Amazon best-sellers.
And if your problem happens to be wondering what to do with a student who hates reading—you’ve come to the right place!
Why Does Your Student Hate Reading?
In order to evaluate this problem, it is important to figure out what it is about reading that your student hates. Not all students hate reading for the same reason. Some possible causes of this dislike are:
- The student does not read quickly enough to follow the story, and so ends up frustrated.
- The student reads too quickly, missing or guessing at words, and so has trouble receiving the story.
- The student can read fairly well but feels intimidated by long or unfamiliar material.
- The student is not interested in the type of reading material presented to them.
- The student enjoys stories but can’t stand sitting still!
Each of these causes reflects a very different problem, yet they all present as a child “hating reading.”
Go to the Root of the Problem
Naturally, each of these problems requires a different kind of help.
The student who does not read quickly and ends up frustrated, might be helped by shorter reading periods, or an alternation between the teacher reading a sentence and the student reading a sentence. The student who reads too fast can be helped by an index card with a small square cut out of it, to cover the page and let them read one word at a time.
The student who feels intimidated by long or unfamiliar material should be encouraged to try new books, especially shorter ones, while also being allowed to keep practicing their reading skills on books they have read before.
The real point is to look at the problem and try to find a creative solution that addresses the specific root of your student’s dislike to reading.
The Super Cure
Regardless of what has caused your student to hate reading, and independent of whatever practical steps you take, it is very important to make sure the student’s dislike of reading does not turn into a dislike of books in general.
No matter how much your child hates reading to himself, he will almost certainly love books if you read to him.
In the case of children who hate reading because they would rather be doing something else—whether this stems from a disinterest in the material of learning-to-read books, or from a superabundance of energy that finds sitting still irksome—the super cure of reading to your child may be the only cure they need at all. Not only will it allow them to experience literature beyond their reading-level, but it may also provide an opportunity for them to keep their hands busy while they listen.
If a child has good and great books read aloud to them, they will be able to develop a love of great literature apart from any difficulties in reading the books themselves. This is especially true if you can find topics and stories that secure their attention and interest. If a child learns to love the content of literature, they are far more likely to overcome the difficulties which make personal reading irksome. For many children, this will mean that they end up loving reading after all!
If Your Student Hates Reading – Read To Them!
So, if you were feeling uptight because your child hates to read, and you thought something was seriously wrong with them or your style of teaching, or something, you can now relax. The problem really isn’t that hopeless!
Some of the difficulties and solutions for a student who hates reading are just as simple as those for a student who hates writing (see below). Many of them can be solved by going to the root problem, and then changing our paradigm to allow us to remove the stumbling blocks that impede our particular children.
And the most important solution of all, is to take time to read aloud good and great books to your child—so that they learn to love literature—even if they hate reading it to themselves.
Are you having trouble getting your children excited about writing? See our companion post:
You might also enjoy:
- How to Get Your Kids to Love History
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