5 min Read
6 ways to encourage your reluctant reader
June 4, 2023
5 min Read
June 4, 2023
When Adrienne Kress was a child, she didn’t like to read. She was what we would call a reluctant reader today.
It greatly irked her parents, both of whom were high school English teachers.
They definitely had cause for concern. According to research, reading motivation is correlated to student growth and performance. Lack of motivation for reading can have dire consequences on academic success. For instance, one study showed that elementary-school aged boys perform significantly lower than girls on standardized tests. It’s no coincidence, then, that boys tend to be more reluctant readers than girls.
Luckily for Kress’ parents, Kress grew up, became an actress, and yes, even a writer. She is now hard at work on her third book in a series called The Explorers, an exciting Harry Potter-esque series of adventure books for middle grade readers. (A cool fact: it’s been optioned by Disney.)
It’s meant for readers exactly like her: reluctant readers.
“I’m not the kind of person whose idea of a perfect day is to curl up with a stack of books,” says Kress, taking time out of writing her third The Explorers book to chat. “It’s a romantic notion, but I’d rather watch a show.”
It was worse as a child. “I didn’t feel an attraction to books when I was a kid,” she says. “I didn’t know what was wrong with me and there was a lot of pressure to read.”
Her words struck a chord. I know a thing or two about reluctant readers. I have two of them. No matter how much I read to my boys, ages seven and eight, or how many trips to the library we make, they are not interested in reading for fun.
I know they can read, because they do well in school, but they don’t enjoy reading on their own. I’ve tried sticker charts, incentives, rewards . . . nothing works.
It’s frustrating for me because I love to read and write. I want my kids to enjoy it too and I can’t figure out how to turn my reluctant readers into readers.
Luckily for me, Kress has spent the last 10-plus years—since her first book was published—writing children’s and young adult novels, speaking with kids at author readings, and well, reading.
In addition to writing The Explorers, which is deliberately fast-paced, funny and filled with dialogue (perfect for reluctant readers), she’s provided me with some advice to help parents approach their reluctant readers with more success. Kids are afraid of books that look intimidating and that they fear are boring.
Though it can be frustrating for parents of reluctant readers, it’s important to keep encouraging and trying. “There’s a book out there for everyone,” says Kress. “I feel like there’s never a moment where we learn ‘I have grown to love reading despite being a reluctant reader.’ That I am an example that there is hope for such readers.”
This article was originally published in 2018. For more info on Adrienne Kress visit her at adriennekress.com.