5 tips for getting reluctant readers reading

Awhile back I shared a little hiccup in our reading process with Big M. When he stepped into independent reading, he just plain wasn’t interested. I was floored! We read A LOT around here and he has always loved books. So why wouldn’t he be excited to jump into reading on his own?

Right around the time that I was expecting to hand some of our story time reading over to him, I was lucky enough to meet a buddy blogger of mine in real life. 😉 She gave me some amazing advice about beginning readers. I came right home and wrote a post about our first steps into independent reading.

Melissa Taylor (my bloggy friend/ reading mentor) is the author and creator of ImaginationSoup, an awesome blog that focuses on fun learning ideas. (You know I’m hooked right?) Not too long ago she announced that she would soon be releasing a new book. Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader. 

Did you hear me scream? Oh yes I was beyond excited! The few tips she gave me last spring had helped me take a deep breath and relax about his reading… but now we were ready for more. I begged for an advanced copy (not really, but I totally would have) and lucky, lucky me I had Book Love in my hands before I knew it.

I want to shout from the roof tops just how much progress we’re already seeing but I’ll settle for sharing it here. (Pretty sure they don’t like pregnant girls climbing ladders.)


 5 tips for getting reluctant readers reading

1. Let them pick what to read. “You can offer ideas and choices; you can guide their selection; you can even teach them how to determine whether a book is at their reading level . . . but let your child make the final choice(s).” ~Melissa Taylor, Book Love

Our librarian probably thinks I’m crazy. We almost always leave with 30 books. It works for us because it allows M and M to have a choice of what they want to read and it’s not just based on the cover. (We’re bound to have a few duds in the mix.) I love the idea of teaching them to choose books on their own and figure out their reading level. Of course I love anything that encourages independence! Keep in mind that if they really want to read a book that is a bit above their level, it might be the motivation they need to stretch themselves.

2.  Focus on sight words. You know how much I love sight word activities! We have done everything we can to make them fun and playful. Book Love has an entire section detected to sight words because the stronger your kid is at reading these words… the easier reading will be. There are tons of activities  and informative links included in the book.

3. Make books available. “Strange as it sounds, I sneak around the house and leave piles of library books for my kids to discover.” ~ Melissa Taylor, Book Love


We have books everywhere. We keep them in a basket in the living room, in the playroom, in the kids’ bedroom and in the bathroom. My sister was surprised at the level Big M was able to read because she’s heard my frustrations. When questioned about when he practices he responded, “I read in the bathroom.”  Who knew?!?!

(You might also try to have books in the car. That doesn’t work for us because of my little car sickies, but I know for a lot of people that would offer quality reading time.)

4. Continue reading aloud. “Why? Because you’ll build vocabulary, expand background knowledge, and talk about new and difficult concepts. Not only that, it’s a time to relax and bond with your child.” ~ Melissa Taylor, Book Love

I have done a very good job being present with my kids. While I do enjoy thinking back on memories, I never dwell or feel sad they are gone. Each age brings something new and exciting. That said, I have thought a lot about the time when I will no longer be the center of story time. When they will just pick up a book rather than asking me to read one more chapter. That day will make me sad. (I may take up storytelling at the library!)

When Melissa suggested that we don’t stop reading aloud I could feel a sense of AHHHH. She’s right. We can continue to read together for as long as it works for us. There is no time limit.

5. READ! “Show him how readers behave by showing that you’re a reader.” ~ Melissa Taylor, Book Love  

Oh boy did I need to read this! I can’t even remember the last time I picked up a book that was just for me. Although I am reading all the time, it’s mostly kids’ books or blog posts. This book inspired me to pick up my very own book and I am loving it! Yeah for tips that help the kids and give Mom some “me time”.

Our Book Love triumphs

~ The first time it happened was about 3 weeks after I read Book Love. While reading through our pile of bedtime books Big M suddenly grabbed the book from me. “I think I can read this one on my own.” Trying very hard not to make too big of a deal about it I did NOT smother him with kisses and tearfully cheer. Instead I said “Great! Your turn then.” It has been happening more and more since then. YEAH!!!

~ The other night he came out of the bathroom (yep that’s right out of the bathroom) carrying The Cat in the Hat. He plopped himself down on the couch and kept reading. Aside from the occasional “Mom what is the word S-H-O-U-L-D?” He read all by himself. He’s treating it like a chapter book; bringing it everywhere he goes, using a bookmark, tracking pages.

I’m seeing his passion for books again. Book Love has made reading in our house pleasurable again. I am so grateful to be a part of launching it and even more grateful to personally know the incredible woman behind the book! THANK YOU MELISSA!!!

Pick up your copy of Book Love: Help Your Child Grow from Reluctant to Enthusiastic Reader today! It’s not just for reluctant readers… I think every parent of a beginning reader will benefit from this information.

This post contains affiliate links, as always the opinions are my own! Read the fine print.


  1. These are all great tips! I noticed a dip in reading eagerness in my toddler soon after he became more mobile, so I just had to remind myself that he’s interested in other things as well. I just remembered not to force reading on him, to read on my own, to always prioritize reading if he asks to read and to still sneak it in a daily ritual, like before bedtime.

  2. Hi! I am a First grade teacher and a mother to 3 boys, two of which are in Kindergarten. I just have to say this is excellent advice!! The parts about continuing to read to them (no matter how old they are) and being an avid reader yourself, are such important components that often get forgotten. I will definitely be checking out the book you recommended. Thanks!

  3. What worked best for us was having our daughter read to her dog and her stuffed animals. Having a captive audience, and being the “teacher” was highly motivating for her.

  4. http://gettingyourkidstoread.com/2015/04/29/keep-it-fun-and-do-nothing-to-kill-the-joy/

    The best thing parents can do to help young children grow into passionate, skilled readers is to provide them with positive associations with reading beginning at an early age. Child psychologist David Elkind points out that the 3-5% of children in the United States who are able to read phonemically upon entering Kindergarten had parents “who read to their children, took them to the library, and talked about books with them.” These children did not receive any sort of formal instruction from their parents, but benefited “from the motivation that develops from rich exposure to language and books and the special attention of a warm and caring adult.”

  5. Great tips, thank you so much!! The idea of having books next to the toilet is also wonderful, though a bit disgusting. Especially after I saw a picture of what happens when you flush the toilet. Maybe not use library books for that one… ?

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