How to encourage a reluctant reader

3 min read

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss

Being a good reader and having a love of reading are key factors in academic achievement and life-long success, which is something we all want for our children. So, what should you do if reading with your child is becoming a daily battle and they complain that reading is ‘boring’ or ‘a chore’?

Firstly, put down your weapons. This is a far more common problem than you think! Here are five top tips for parents of reluctant readers.

Give your child a choice in what they read

Surely classic children’s literature will provide the most educational benefit? No! This is simply not true! Don’t worry if your child isn’t reading ‘The Wind in the Willows’ or ‘The Secret Garden’ . The most important thing is that they are reading something they want to read. Children who choose what they read will be more engaged and motivated to carry on reading.

Make sure their choices are at the right level for them – they could lose confidence and motivation if it’s too difficult. Alternatively, why not read to them? You never know, it could spark a new interest!

These are all perfectly acceptable forms of reading material:

  • Comics and graphic novels
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Cookery books
  • Joke books
  • Instruction books
  • Leaflets, catalogues, encyclopedias…the list goes on!

Ensure your child has a wide variety of books to choose from

This doesn’t have to be expensive either; there are plenty of free options available. The more choice you give your child, the better chance they have of finding books that are right for them.

Here at DoodleEnglish, we are firm believers that there are books out there for everyone – they just have to be found!

Here are some inexpensive ways to expose your child to a wide range of books:

  • Local libraries
  • School libraries
  • Second-hand bookshops 
  • Charity shops
  • Oxford Owl (this website has over 100 free e-books to choose from)
  • E-book websites (they often have free or discounted books)

Make reading purposeful

DoodleEnglishProviding opportunities to read for a purpose can be very powerful and highly motivating. For example, if your child wants to bake in the kitchen they will need to read the instructions. Reading will feel like less of a chore to your child if they can enjoy a tasty treat afterwards!  

An activity like this will not only help develop your child’s reading skills and motivation to read, but also lead to discussion around mathematical concepts and vocabulary.

Here are a few other examples of purposeful reading:

  • Restaurant menus
  • Instructions 
  • Non-fiction books on an interesting topic
  • Maps
  • Reading to younger siblings

Investigate your local library and bookshop

Libraries and bookshops will become your new best friend! They have a wide variety of books to choose from and knowledgeable staff who can recommend books to suit all tastes. What’s not to like?

They also offer a wide range of activities to encourage reading and motivate your child for little or no cost:

  • Author visits
  • Book signings
  • Storytelling 
  • Events
  • Competitions
  • Reading Challenges

Let them catch you reading!

Does your child see good reading role-models outside of school? Seeing adults reading can make children more inclined to do so themselves. This doesn’t necessarily have to be at home either. It could be on public transport, in the car, on the beach or waiting to see the dentist.

If you set aside time to do some reading for pleasure or purpose, your child will see that reading is important and enjoyable whatever your age.


To help your child on their way, check out our blog on our top 100 children’s books. All of our suggestions can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults too!

Article by Jess Evans

Doodle empowers learners to achieve confidence in maths and English. Our intelligent technology creates individual work programmes which are motivational, affordable and convenient to use.