Paulette Chaffee Suggests These Tips for Promoting Reading to Reluctant Readers

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Reading is an essential skill during any student’s educational development, says Indeed. Unfortunately, many children struggle to develop decoding skills or learn reading concepts and quickly lose interest in reading. When educator Paulette Chaffee teaches students who are having difficulty reading, she finds these tips and strategies helpful to encourage hesitant readers to become motivated learners both at home and in the classroom:

1. Identify the Why Behind the Child’s Reluctance 

There are several different reasons why a student might be a reluctant reader. The “why” behind a child’s reluctance could range from falling behind in decoding skills to not knowing what topics are personally appealing. If a parent or teacher thinks that a student’s reading level needs improvement, practicing reading books aloud switching between the student and the adult can help to promote phonics and vocabulary understanding. 

Suppose a student is overwhelmed by book options or has not yet found a favorite reading subject. In that case, they usually tend to fall into the habits of a “Book Abandoner,” or someone who wanders around the library without picking a book or reads the first page of a book before calling it quits. 

2. Find Books that Interest a Child

One of the best and first steps to get a reluctant reader to start reading is to find out what interests that student. When you ask a child directly what they like to read, they might not know how to answer due to a lack of knowledge or personal insight. Getting to know a child and what their current hobbies are would be an excellent start. For example, a student might always pick up a game controller instead of a book. Finding out what games that student enjoys playing gives parents a topic of interest when searching for books.  

3. Hook the Reader with Low Vocabulary Books

Especially when a child struggles with decoding skills in reading, it is crucial to introduce a reluctant reader to books that intrigue them but are simple to read, or “high interest, low vocabulary” books. When students lack interest in reading, guiding them to practice is key. Once a teacher or parent has discovered the child’s interests, teach the enjoyment of reading through books that align with topics they enjoy that match the child’s reading level. By doing this, teachers and parents are removing obstacles to reading skill development. Building readers’ confidence before bringing in additional challenges that could deter a child from reading is essential. 

4. Build Confidence Through Positive Reinforcement

Confident readers are eager to seek books and embrace their reading skills. Reluctant readers are the opposite, resulting in a lack of confidence revolving around reading. Teachers and parents should remember that part of helping students read involves boosting confidence in personal abilities, which can be done through positive reinforcement, assisting in shifting the focus from shortcomings to strengths. 

5. Do Not Force Reading

Reluctant readers are already going to want to resist reading, so forcing books and reading standards on a child will hinder any opportunity of self-seeking captivation or exploration. When a student refuses to pick up a book at home, parents should start to incorporate reading interesting books aloud to their child. Instead of turning on the television during dinner, a parent can read a good book aloud, which helps a parent set a great example when life does not leave much room or spare time for a child to observe a parent picking up a book and reading. 

About Paulette Chaffee

Paulette Chaffee is an educator, children’s advocate, grants facilitator, lawyer, and member of various non-profit boards. She obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands in Communicative Disorders and a California Lifetime Teaching Credential. She is currently the Ambassador for Orange County 4th District and a board member of All the Arts for All the Kids.

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