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My Kids Don’t Enjoy Reading - What Should I Do?

7 February 2023

The reluctant reader can be a tough nut to crack!

‘Oooohhh, why do I have to read?’

‘It’s boring.’

‘It’s too hard.’

‘I hate it.’

‘I’d rather play football!’

‘Do I have to?’

These may well be familiar comments heard in your own household when you encourage your child to complete the mandatory reading homework from school or even pick up a book in the first place!

The problem is that we all know how critical literacy is in the modern world, and we want our children to do well.

Don’t despair! Some children just take a little more time and encouragement than others. While you’re waiting for them to discover the joy of books for themselves, there are a few things you can do to help whet their appetite for more later on.

Find out why 

Try and understand why your child doesn’t like reading. Talk to them. Discuss their reasons. Once you have a little more information, you will be better placed to tackle the issue.

More than just books

Reading is about more than just books. The printed word is everywhere! Here are some ideas for you -

  • Use TV guides to find programmes your child wants to watch (which helps with learning time too.)
  • Turn the subtitles on while your child watches their favourite TV programme. 
  • Look up, print out, (and decorate) the words of their favourite songs so that they can sing along. 
  • Give them items to find on the supermarket shelves. 
  • Look at road signs, addresses, and places on a map. 
  • Have them play computer games in which reading is involved.

Use environmental reading, and you may be surprised at the results.


Your child will have interests that are unique to them. It may be dinosaurs, dolls, cars, horses, or anything. Oxford Reading Tree doesn’t have the only books suitable for school-age children. Visit a library and let your child choose their books based on their interests.


A fluent reader not only reads the words on the page but also understands what the words mean. A fluent reader should be able to tell you what the story is about, who the main characters are, and other details. Audiobooks are great resources for listening to stories at bedtime, in the car, or just for pleasure; they are also an excellent opportunity to discuss a story, ask questions and check a child’s understanding.

Reading models

Be a reading model for your child. Let them see you reading; newspapers, novels, recipes, magazines, etc.

Read to them. A fluently read story sounds much more exciting than the book an early reader picks out painfully word-by-word.

Share a book and take turns to read a page, a line, or even just pick out words they know.

Children like to emulate grown-ups; seeing you reading might inspire them to do the same.

Start small

Don’t expect too much, too quickly. Some children will learn to read quickly; some will take their time. Be patient, be encouraging, and celebrate success, no matter how tiny the steps.

Photo by Gustavo Fring

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