Suzy Red's Reluctant Reader Advice
I have a question for you. I have attended your last three workshops
in Amarillo and really enjoyed them. I am currently working on obtaining
a teaching degree, so there are many things I do not yet know.
What I want to
know from you, as an experienced teacher, is how do you encourage your
kids to read. My daughter is one of those students that is an excellent
reader, she just doesn't enjoy reading. When the students are assigned
book reports, many come in and check out a book, then a week later,
are looking for a new one because they didn't like it. I always suggest
to them that they at least read to chapter 3 before deciding they dislike
the book. What would your suggestions be?
First Year Librarian
When I first started to teach, I remember Madeline Hunter telling me,
"If you want to change a child's attitude, first change the behavior."
I still find that to be valuable advice today.
Some kids will
read anything and everything they can get their hands on! Praise God
for them! They keep our cups of happiness filled!
We have to work
cleverly to fill the cups of reluctant readers. To do that, you have
to change their behavior.
I think that the main problems with getting many of our students to
read may be:
1. They are very social people and don't like
the isolation and static feeling they get in reading. Providing
them book clubs, discussion groups, and partner reading where they can
discuss and do activities with the story will really turn them on to
reading. I suspect your daughter is a lot like that..."excellent
reader, but doesn't enjoy it." I try to make this easy through
my units by providing discussion cards and extension projects, games,
puzzles, etc. Modeling our love for reading by doing this with them
will be contagious. Doing partnered book reports could be the answer!
2. Reading may be uninteresting for them.
It's difficult to compete with the world of media entertainment, and
in truth, there are a lot of boring books that can stop kids in their
tracks! In that case, I become a collaborative
reading partner, grab the absolutely most exciting award-winning
book available anywhere (like Earthquake
Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, The
One and Only Ivan, One-Handed
Catch, Toby and the Phantoms
of the Fourth Grade) to read to them (WITH ACTIVE DISCUSSION AND
ACTIVITIES)! I use guided reading strategies as I read the first chapter
or two or ten to them. This makes them want to know what is going happen
next. Then, only ask them to read one chapter independently.
After discussing and guiding them through the activities, I read another
chapter or two. Pretty soon many of them will start begging you to continue.
They are hooked and will be ready to start getting the book and reading
on their own. The others that are still struggling may need to hang
with you until that fire starts to crackle and pop under them ... but
if you're patient and share your enthusiasm, it WILL begin to crackle
3. Some kids just prefer nonfiction or fiction
or Goosebumps and only want to read those. Good readers can grow
with anything, so I will encourage that. You can gradually expose the
to other genres through tricky moves.
4. Some kids (like I was) are very competitive
and need a chance to win a contest, fill my chart first, etc.
5. Some kids CAN'T read or CAN'T comprehend.
You can find out who they are quickly enough by having them read out
loud to you and answer higher-level questions (the “why” and “how questions),
not knowledge-level. If they say they prefer to read silently...you
have a clue! With those kids, you will need to give them the tools they
need through phonics, etc. I found Repeated
Readings work well quickly build fluency...researched based! But
nothing beats reading with them (and following left to right with your
finger to train the eyes to track) to keep them inspired and to give
them tools as they break down.
Okay, time's up! Did that help? Let me know if you have any specific
problem kids. I may be able to go on!
I'm just finishing
a unit on Okay for
Now...probably the best book I've ever read. (middle school level)
You'll find it good, too, I expect! I expected it to receive the 2012
Newbery Gold! I also thought The
Cheshire Cheese Cat (HUGE vocabulary, so a great read aloud) might
win it! The
Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg did win a Newbery Honor,
so I'm content!
Thanks so much for remembering me. I sometimes feel like the Maytag
repair man, wondering if anyone is out there! You've made my day! I
hope to see you this summer! In the meantime, order my suggestions in
your favorite Kids Wings
Let me know what helps!
Keep walkin' in the sunshine and passin' it along!
Kids' Wings Educational Associates
1707 Twin Island Dr.
Lockhart, TX 78644
Kids' Wings Phone: 512-558-1121
Kids' Wings FAX: 888-558-1123
"In times of change, the learners will inherit the world while
the knowers remain well-prepared for a world that no longer exists."