8 Surprising Reasons Your Child Doesn’t Want to Read
Snuggling up to read together. It has to be one of the best parts of parenting, right? But what if your child doesn’t want to be read to?
Perhaps you have an older child who’s learning to read on her own. Does she do everything she can to avoid picking up a book?
If either of these situations is true, you may be worried that your child won’t grow into someone who loves to read.
Don’t despair. In this post I share 8 reasons you may not have thought of that your child doesn’t want to read, and what you can do about it.
Reasons Your Child May Not Want to Be Read To:
Reason #1: Your child doesn’t get to choose the books he reads.
I have a lot of books that I think are awesome. Some are new favorites, others are ones I loved as a child.
That doesn’t mean our 4 year old loves them. Most of the books that we read together, he chooses himself.
Choice means both letting your child choose what to read at any particular bedtime (or whenever it is that you read.) It also means letting your child influence which books come into your home.
When you’re at the library or bookstore, give younger children some options to select from. Look for books that fit their interests (even if they’re not your interests.) Especially if your child resists reading time, be open to letting her pick books that you think are kind of crummy.
Once your child has become more interested in reading time, you might try a compromise. For example, if you read 3 books a night, let your child pick 2 and you pick the other one.
You could also offer a “bonus book” that you choose. Your child can either turn out the lights and go to sleep, or stay up a bit to hear you read the book. you picked
Reason #2: Books are displayed in an unappealing way.
Sometimes space constraints lead us to display books in a way that causes our child to never think about them.
If all your books are crammed on to one shelf with only the spines showing, your preschool aged child will have no idea which book is which. If she can’t see it, she’s probably not going to ask you to read it.
Even if it means having to put some books out of rotation temporarily, look for ways to display more books with the covers showing.
Break up your book collection into several baskets in different rooms. I’ve also seen many people recommend using Ikea spice racks on a wall to display books with the covers showing.
One of the keys to this approach is rotating which books are in your child’s view, so that he can re-discover the books in his collection.
Reason #3: Your child is expected to sit still during reading time.
Younger children (and some older children) need to move. Some kids are just not going to nestle next to you to read, and that’s ok.
It might not seem like it in the moment, but children are listening and absorbing what you read, even if they are climbing, fidgeting, or moving.
Your child may be able to better concentrate if you give him paper and crayons to doodle while you’re reading. Some children are better able to concentrate when they have fidget toys to play with.
Singalong books and books that encourage movement are another good option for active children.
Reason #4: Your child isn’t interested in trying something new.
In general, our four year old loves being read to. Sometimes, though, he doesn’t want to try new books.
Don’t get me wrong, we read many of our books over and over, and that’s a good thing. It reinforces vocabulary for him.
But there’s comes a time to introduce new books, and sometimes he doesn’t like that. That’s when I start playing mind tricks.
First I ask if he’d just like to look at the pictures. We’ll flip through the pages, and I’ll make a few “wondering” remarks. For example, “It looks like he’s giving that mouse a cookie. I wonder why?” If he joins in my question, I ask if he wants to read the words to find out.
Sometimes he declines looking at the pages. That’s when I say, “ok I’m going to read this to myself.” I look through the book without reading the words out loud, with a few exclamations of “oh wow!” or laughing at something funny.
Usually his curiosity wins out, and he’ll agree to read at least part of the book.
Reasons Your Child May Not Want To Read On Her Own
Reason #5: Learning to read is freaking hard. And often boring.
There are so many tasks a child has to master when she’s learning to read. It can often feel like a long, hard slog when she’s just starting out.
There are a few things you can do as a parent to nurture a love of reading through this challenging transition.
The most important is to continue reading aloud to your child. Read books that are above her reading level, and that are likely more exciting to listen to than the early readers she is de-coding.
When your child is frustrated about reading on his own, offer to share the reading. Alternate pages or chapters, with you reading one, and your child reading the next.
Talk to your child about how learning to do anything new is challenging. Share something that you’ve recently learned to do that wasn’t easy for you at first.
Reason #6: Fiction just isn’t your child’s thing.
I could read children’s storybooks morning, noon, and night. I love the magic of a carefully crafted tale.
Not all children feel this way. Many children we call reluctant readers are actually kids who prefer non-fiction.
Head to the library and ask a librarian to help you find books that fit with a topic your child is interested in.
Try offering graphic novels and magazines to your child. One summer our teen would not read for pleasure at all, until I introduced him to graphic novels about history. He devoured one after another.
Reason #7: Your reading routine is inconsistent.
Consistently having reading time with a child who doesn’t like to read can be a chicken and egg problem. Because he doesn’t like to read, you don’t ask him to do it every day. The less he reads, the less he likes reading.
It may be difficult at first, but setting an expectation that at a particular time each time is reading time will help. After a couple of weeks you’ll likely see your child settling into the routine with less resistance.
If your child struggles with reading, start off your reading time by reading to your child. Then let your child takes his turn reading to you.
Reason #8: Your child doesn’t see you reading for pleasure.
Being a parent means there’s always so much to do. I completely understand. Reading for pleasure may have been something you chucked out the window with parenthood.
It’s hard to convince a child that reading is enjoyable if they don’t see adults doing it, though. Maybe you can fit in reading time while your child is having her reading time.
If you read after your child goes to bed, tell your child something about what you’re reading right now and why you like it.
If you usually read books on an e-reader, your child might think you are checking your email or working. Pick up a physical book to read from time to time to send a clear message about what you’re doing.
Does your child resist reading? Share your experience in the comments!