12 Tips To Engage Reluctant Readers

Reading time: 4

Laura George

Laura teaches Years 4-8 at King's Rochester Prep. School and is head of RS and PSHEE. She has previously taught in secondary state comprehensive and grammar schools. She loves everything about teaching and often can be found telling her husband "Oh, this would be great...
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How can we motivate children to read?

According to the National Literacy Trust children’s enjoyment of reading is at an all time high and three out of five children enjoy reading. The problem is how do we engage the reluctant readers as well?

Can we provide something in classrooms and schools that would inspire the others to engage in the love of a good book? There is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as personal development. It is therefore important that schools show the status of reading for pleasure in the current curriculum and ethos.

12 Tips For Engaging Reluctant Readers

So what can we do to promote a passion for reading?

1. Visualisation works very well for reading

Children are very used to screens to support their interest. It’s all about teaching them that they have the most portable screen in their heads – their imagination! Read to your class as you turn off the lights and add some atmospheric music in the background. Get children to put their heads on the table, eyes shut and visualise the images to match the words.

2. Get them up and moving

As you read to them get them to act out the movement of the piece or characters involved. This is less manic than a role-play and gets them concentrating on the main themes or repeating patterns in the text. Don’t let the children have a copy of the text or book, this way the actions are less thought out and will be more fun.

3. Make it a game

When reading as a whole class, get readers to stop at a random point and pick someone else to read the next bit. This involves all learners and makes sure they are all paying attention to what is going on.

4. Take the role of reading yourself

Show the children the passion and fun that can be had in a book. Do the voices, act the roles. Cry when you want to and laugh. Show the children in your class that books are more than just words, they are emotions.

5. Tweet an author

Thanks to social media, we now have the luxury of being able to access many more authors. How about having slips of paper alongside books where children can pen a tweet and you post it? Imagine the excitement if an author replies to a child.

6. Book club

Schools are always looking for new clubs and so many schools now have a film club. Why not create a school book club? Sit around with drinks and snacks and talk about a book that you can all read together.

7. Book tasting

Set up a room with table cloths, paper plates, drinks and menus. Each seat has a paper plate with a different book on (five per table) and the menu describes a bit of each book. Pupils read a book for 5-10 minutes and then swap. They have a score card where they rate each book. You can use this to decide the book to read for the class or let pupils allow to choose which book to read.

8. Speed book date

Much like hosting a book tasting event except it’s set up like speed dating instead. Each table has a book and pupils read for five minutes before they move. It’s amazing the interest you can spark in a book if you make the pupils finish when they are in the middle of reading. For this reason be strict with the time and have a buzzer to add to the atmosphere.

9. Mystery book

Get children engaged with deciding the class book for English lessons. Have three books ready and put the title written on paper in an envelope. On the front of each envelope add three to five words that are linked with the book. Harry Potter might be “Magic, Naughty, Scar”. Now the pupils decide, by voting based on the words, which book to read. This could also be done using props to make it even more engaging and fun. Ownership of the choice of books is essential in making children engaged with a book.

10. Make reading a whole school policy

Have a designated time where everyone drops everything and reads (often called DEAR time). It’s important children see good reading role models and also that staff have some down time. Each member of staff could also have a sign on the door to let children know what they are reading.

11. Classroom libraries

Each classroom needs to show that reading is a priority and that they also invest in reading. Each class could have a reading library specific to that room. Imagine a whole school library and each room is a different section of it. Your category could be linked to your subject or an area of fiction (or both!). Make sure it has new books and invest in good one. Local bookshops and charity shops are great places to source this. Having access to resources and having books of their own has an impact on children’s attainment.

12. Cross-curricular

Find out their interests in other areas too. Think about how one book could go across all different areas of the curriculum. Could it fit into geography or history? If children see all staff are engaged with a book it may inspire them to invest too.

Above all, we as teachers have to model the behaviour we want to see for reading for pleasure to ensure it takes its rightful role in education.

One thought on “12 Tips To Engage Reluctant Readers

  1. Also have a large variety available, some children prefer non fiction to fiction, and include magazines,newspapers and comics.

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