I come across this question a lot with parents and teachers. There are usually at least a handful of children in each class who are not interested in reading. But why?

Using research and experience I have put together 5 possible reasons for educators and parents to explore:

  1. Has the child struggled with developing the basic skills required of reading? As human beings we enjoy things that we are good at. If you think about something you love, it is likely that have the confidence to perform the activity well. Children who enjoy reading are able to access the meaning and they REALLY understand what they are reading. Children who struggle with mastering the foundations of reading, learn that reading is too hard and it becomes pointless. In these cases, it is important to explore whether the child has a learning difficulty.
  2. Interest level. A significant part of our motivation comes from autonomy, being able to chose something ourselves. It is very important that we provide a selection of books that each child is interested in. They are more likely to want to read the book, ask questions and develop a love or reading that if it is something they do not like.
  3. How is reading perceived at home or school by others? Does the child see their parents reading? Are there books scattered on the coffee table, in the car and is there a bookshelf where books are readily available? Is there a set time of the day when the whole family takes time to read a book, individually or as a family? Make it fun!
  4. Is the book too hard? In many cases, children are given reading books or choose reading books that they are unable to read fluently and therefore access meaning. If they are interested in a particular book, don’t discourage the child, but allow the adult to read the book to them instead.
  5. How has reading been encouraged at school and at home? By intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? Intrinsic motivation is an internal drive to do something for yourself, for example, ‘I want to read this book, because I want to find out what happens in the story.’ This can be contrasted to extrinsic motivation, ‘I have to read this book because my teacher told me to. It is for homework. ‘ Or, I’ll receive a lolly after I read this book.’ In the case of the extrinsic motivation, the love of learning will die off. Many adults lack motivation because as a child they were controlled and drive by extrinsic motivation. Encourage children to use their internal drive to read. If the child has been driven by extrinsic motivation for many years, you’ll need to gradually remove it.

Natalie Nicholls
Education Consultant
Dyslexia & Learning Difficulties Specialist