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Ideas for how to engage a reluctant reader

(19 Posts)
SurlyCue Tue 10-Nov-15 21:57:41

DS is 6. He is under the SALT and has other issues that all mean he is behind most of his peers. He is in P3 but the teacher has put him back to the P2 work and he sits with the P2 children. He is only now starting to use phonics to sound out words. He recognises letters and knows which sounds go with them and he can put small (2 or 3 letter) words together to say the word. We read his reading books every day. Well actually he has 4 that he is supposed to do but so far he will only tolerate doing one a day and most times even then he whines. When reading it is clear he isnt reading but just remembering the words from when the teacher read it and looking at the pictures for clues. Sometimes he isnt even looking at the page, he just calls out the sentence. His teacher is not ready to address his reading in school yet because she is focusing on his behavioural issues for the time being but his behaviour is not an issue at home anymore so i feel like it is time to try and get him to feel excited about reading. My eldest son is a bookworm and always just loved it so i'm not sure what to do.

Currently with DS2 i will point out words on things that i know he likes, such as car or dog. Sometimes he will sound it out and sometimes he sighs and just says he cant read. It is clear he feels it is a chore to read.

Any suggestions for getting him wanting to read?

SurlyCue Wed 11-Nov-15 12:40:48


SevenSeconds Wed 11-Nov-15 12:48:59

Can you take him to the library / bookshop and let him choose a book himself? Sometimes the school ones aren't very inspiring.

My DC's teachers say there is nothing wrong with looking at the pictures for clues - it means he is understanding the way a story works and what the words mean rather than just sounding out mechanically.

Also, I don't want to start a phonics debate as I know some people can get very heated about it, but I know that phonics worked really well for two of my DC, but my eldest (who has a good memory) learnt to read entirely by looking at the word and remembering it. I think it's an equally valid method that suits some children better.

If he reads a word correctly, praise him even if you don't think he did it the 'right' way. At this age, the most important thing is for him to enjoy it!

Toffeelatteplease Wed 11-Nov-15 12:54:36

Mostly dropped phonics in favour of literally Peter and jane books. Which got the basics in place quicker before returning to phonics

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 11-Nov-15 13:06:23

Can you take him to the library / bookshop and let him choose a book himself? Sometimes the school ones aren't very inspiring.


Let him choose books that are too advanced if he wants too - you reading to him is as valuable as him reading to you.

Also, how about comics? Phoenix is pretty good and I can pretty much guarantee there will be at least one strip that appeals to him.

SurlyCue Wed 11-Nov-15 15:22:53

Thank you both. Yes library and comics sound like a good idea.

So should i not encourage the phonics? Its how he is being taught at school. I dont want to confused him.

GreenSand Wed 11-Nov-15 15:56:04

We have a 10 book version of this which my reluctant 6 yr old reader devoured. They may be above his current reading level, but might show him books can be enjoyed with you?

Toffeelatteplease Wed 11-Nov-15 16:45:07

Yes absolutely you should be encouraging phonics and don't let anyone tell you otherwise grin

We were recommended look and see by the fantastic ed psych who saw DS at 6. He made phenomenal progress in an incredibly short space of time. It gave DS a handle on the basics quickly which allowed him to focus on the bit's that were harder.

He was also transitioning from special to mainstream education therefore he needed a short cut into reading.

We kept up alphablocks. I occasionally hear him trying to blend when reading words but I think mostly he still learns with look and say.

SurlyCue Wed 11-Nov-15 17:40:26

Thank you both for recommendations. I'll get started on these and see how we get on.

MERLYPUSSEDOFF Wed 11-Nov-15 19:39:34

My niece was diagnosed as dyslexic and said she couldn't read as the letters were jumping around the page.
We used to read the pictures and make stories up from there and I would point out words that she could remember by their shape. She gradually became interested in books and could read once she got coloured overlays to help with the jumping. Might be an idea? Dont know if Hobbycraft still do acetate sheets but you could ask if the letters look better under the different colours before you pay out if you think that may be an issue.

SurlyCue Wed 11-Nov-15 19:55:25

Thanks merly. Ive never heard of doing that but will give it a try and see if it has any effect.

ethelb Wed 11-Nov-15 20:02:28

Following on from Merly, load2learn are a charity who provide resources for blind and partially sighted people as well as dyslexics, but may have some helpful advice/resources you can at least try out.
Also, being married to a previously slightlu reluctant reader who is now a journo (!) but got grief from teachers, changing the reading materials may help. He like comics, comic book style books, graphic novel type books and a series called fighting fantasy which is like a game. He also liked to read about stuff he was interested in, ie death, sharks and bears! Can you focus a bit less on the reading scheme stuff for a bit and get some stuff in his is interested in reading? Maybe not necessarily fiction.
If he is 6/7 he may find the content of the reading schemes 'babyish'.

ethelb Wed 11-Nov-15 20:05:23

Btw, liking the pics is not a bad thing! My mother is a lecturer on reading and writing for early years education and argues that pictorial prompts are hugely important for vocab development and enjoyment for children (and adults!) long after achieving fluency.

Toffeelatteplease Wed 11-Nov-15 20:25:11

The coloured sheets reminded me. The other thing I did for ds was take two small squares of plain paper, join them with sticky tape but slightly apart to create a slit or windows that only showed one line of text at a time. All the text above and below would be hidden. Made it so much easier to visually track across the page.

SevenSeconds Wed 11-Nov-15 20:37:23

I'm not saying you shouldn't encourage phonics, but I'm just saying you should praise him if he gets a word right by any means, not tell him he's doing it the wrong way.

SurlyCue Wed 11-Nov-15 20:38:19

If he is 6/7 he may find the content of the reading schemes 'babyish

Yes i think he finds them dull. He gets through them as fast as he can.

He brought home a book from the school library today called windows magic which teaches how to use windows for children. Way beyond his ability but i read it for him and at words i knew he could guess i let him say them and pointed to it as he was saying it. Words like mouse and bin. He really enjoyed it and then wanted to use my laptop to follow the books instructions so we did that too. He has the book for a week so will try keep going with that.

Wil also try the two squares of paper thing although i suspect he might have little patience for it. Maybe could present it as a cool trick.

SurlyCue Wed 11-Nov-15 20:40:28

Thanks seven sorry i just got confused about what was best to do.

Ferguson Thu 12-Nov-15 18:31:00

Hi SC - we have 'met' before, on a garden and lawn query!

What behaviour problems are occurring at school? It IS difficult to motivate reluctant readers, particularly if there are behaviour or 'learning' issues that make it harder than normal for them. And I once worked in a Reception class where the children knew all the books off by heart, and often didn't have it open a the correct page.

I'll give you a couple of ideas that may help, but mainly just keep reading WITH and TO him as much as possible, and 'keep cool', so reading hopefully become more of a pleasure, and less of a chore:

ONE - An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’ and my name.

TWO - When reading harder books with a child, get him to point to words as he goes along. If he knows the word, or can sound it out, he can say it. If he doesn't know the word, he can hover his finger over it, and YOU say the word for him. Don't stop to analyse or discuss the word at this stage, but try and keep the 'flow' of reading going. Review difficulties at the end, if you wish to. This way, he has the satisfaction of reading more difficult books, without the fear of getting 'stuck' on words.

Good luck, and let me know if I can help further.

[Tried to 'post' this yesterday, but MN site was sluggish!]

SurlyCue Thu 12-Nov-15 18:55:09

hi ferguson

What behaviour problems are occurring at school?

Impulse control- snatching off other children, getting out of seat and being restless, lashing out at other children to the extent that he has hurt a couple of children. Not so much recently but in the previous school year he would tantrum and kick furniture, his chair or a table. At times when told off he will put fingers in his ears and say "lalalalala" he has been seeing a family support worker since july and the teacher has put him on a daily report system since septemer which has seen a massive improvement but not quite there yet.

Thank you for those pointers, i will give them a go.

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