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Reluctant readers
March 7, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

Read Across America day, also known as Dr. Seuss’ birthday, was March 2.

Schools across America, including our local schools, celebrated this day with students. Students and staff engaged in by special reading activities.

My children enjoyed ice cream sundaes that were earned spending time reading.

This day celebrates reading and fun, but for some children, reading is not a fun choice for an activity. Reading is extremely important, and we want our children to engage in reading.

I have heard various parents say though that their children don’t enjoy reading. What can they do to get their reluctant readers to plug into reading?

Research and experts say that we need to start early with helping children develop their prereading skills and a love for reading.

Children need to be exposed to words and books and different sources of reading materials. We need to role model reading for our children. But there are still children who do not choose to read for a number of reasons.

In an article on reluctant readers on www.connectingya.com it noted that reluctant (uncommitted and unmotivated) readers do want: to choose their own books from a narrowed choice, have teachers read aloud a whole book, compare movie to book, read illustrated books, and do art activities that coincide with the book.

Reluctant readers usually do not want to go to the library, buy books at a book fair, or participate in book talks, debates, or book shares.

Simple things that can be done to engage reluctant readers include booklists, giving some freedom and choice in books, offering nonfiction choices, and reading materials with graphics.

Books that grab readers right from the beginning may help engage reluctant readers, as well. If the plot is slow, so will the reading be.

Here are some suggestions for books from the National Education Association’s (1999) list of great reading for children.

Books for children ages 4 to 8: “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak; “Love You Forever,” by Robert N. Munsch; “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” by Judith Viorst; “The Paper Bag Princess,” by Robert N. Munsch.

Books for children ages 9 to 12: “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle; “Shiloh,” by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; “Little House on the Prairie,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder; “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry; “My Father’s Dragon,” by Ruth Stiles Gannett; “The Great Gilly Hopkins,” by Katherine Paterson.

Happy belated birthday, Dr. Seuss.