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6yo girl hates reading - any advice please?

(31 Posts)
millingtonsmummy Sat 26-Apr-14 16:03:53

My 6yo is a bright and generally well behaved little girl. She's progressing wonderfully at school, her teacher is full of good things to say about her and her reading age is well above average. But she hates it. She has never in her life chosen to read voluntarily. She brings a reading book home from school every evening and the expectation from school (and from me) is that she should read everyday. I insist that she does and I literally force her to do it. Most of our 'reading time' is taken up with her slumping in her chair, staring into the distance, telling me that she'll only read x number of pages etc. etc. When she does read some words it feels like she's not trying, she often reads half a sentence looks around the room for a while, talks about something else. She's not interested.

I know I don't help as I find it horribly frustrating. I do start off being positive, tell her I like the look of the book she's chosen today, talk about what we can see in the pictures, talk about what we think the story could be about or what happens next etc. But she wares me down. I've fallen into terrible habits of correcting her, interrupting her when she's saying nonsense and not registering that the word she's saying is totally made up. I always praise her when she tries hard or sounds and blends words she doesn't recognise.

She chooses her books at school independently, the number of books, styles, interests she has to choose from is vast. We go to the library every week and she chooses books to take home but never reads them, never even opens the front cover.

I read to her and her little brother every evening. She went off picture books but we're working through Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl etc. She seems to love these books and being read to.

I've used sticker charts when she was younger with rewards given once she earned enough stickers. This did get her reading in the school holidays but always with the attitude mentioned above. She seems a bit old for that now.

I've tried talking to her about her attitude on numerous occasions. Today she insisted that she enjoys reading. I told her that her behaviour suggests otherwise and that the experience is horrible for me as well as her. The outcome of our conversation today is that I've told her I'm only going to read with her from now on if she wants to and the first sign of the negative behaviours, we stop. I've also said that I will be reporting all this to her teacher, who she craves to please and if no reading is done at home, her teacher will know the exact reasons. I'm hoping that she'll be shamed into at least doing some reading but I'm not convinced.

When reading is such a pleasure, how can it be such a horrible experience with my daughter? Where did it all go wrong?

simpson Sat 26-Apr-14 16:17:48

What books does she bring home from school?

Does she kick off at home because she seems daunted by how long they are?

redskyatnight Sat 26-Apr-14 16:20:56

OK, so the key to your post is that DD loves being read to. She doesn't hate books, she doesn't hate stories, she hates having to do something that is hard and I imagine the fact she now associates reading with a battleground is not helping.

I would stop forcing her to read. It's frustrating you both and it isn't helping. You could suggest reading alternative sentences in her book, or her just trying to read words that you think she should know (depending on her reading level) but if she doesn't want to then don't force the issue. I'd work on building on her enjoyment of reading, so that may well mean not reading the reading books from school (which are a mixed bag).

Another thing to try is to to give her books that are well within her reading level i.e. books that she will find really easy to read. I suspect the big problem you have at the moment is that she finds the process of working out what the words say really hard work, so that takes any enjoyment out of the actual story. So give her something she doesn't have to work so hard at. (maybe she can read to little brother?)

If you think about, you're an adult who obviously enjoys reading. But after a long day at work, when you're feeling tired, what do you read for enjoyment - War and Peace, or something that is more like light reading?

Kithulu Sat 26-Apr-14 16:23:34

er..well if she is doing well at reading in school and above average as you say, then leave her be and don't force her to read. If she falls behind then reassess, but I bet she wont.
If you are regularly reading her bedtime stories that is far more beneficial for her comprehension and vocabulary, and she enjoys it!

Creatureofthenight Sat 26-Apr-14 16:23:41

I am surprised that she is given free choice every day at school, I would have expected the teacher to be guiding her towards appropriate books for her reading level - she's only 6 after all?

EyeoftheStorm Sat 26-Apr-14 16:27:54

Agree with red sky. Why are you making a battle out of something you want her to enjoy?

If her reading age is above average, it's not reading that's a problem.

I have a 9 year old who has never voluntarily picked up a book in his life. No exaggeration. So I have read to him every day of his life, cuddled up together on the sofa. I choose books we both like, chat to him about words, characters, and we both enjoy it.

We also listen to audio books on long journeys.

Please don't force her, punish her or shame her. She's 6. Come at it from another angle. Try to put the fun back into reading for both your sakes.

claraschu Sat 26-Apr-14 16:35:02

I would stop having battles over this, as it will be ingrained for her to think that reading is not fun.

My son loved being read to, but was not at all interested in reading the books he brought home from school. He didn't read at all until he decided to read Tintin, which was much too hard for him, but he was interested, so he just learned to read with Tintin. Sometimes clever kids are put off by the boring things that teachers think are appropriate.

Is there a difficult book that she loves and has heard many times? The paper version of a favourite story tape? She could try reading just a few lines of a well known very grown up book, as a rebellious treat, perhaps.

Even though she can choose what she wants at school, she might possibly be overwhelmed by lots of books she doesn't know, which are all on a certain "level" and don't look particularly cool.

millingtonsmummy Sat 26-Apr-14 16:37:17

redsky you're absolutely right, she doesn't like not being able to do something. It's something I've notice in other areas of her development and she needs real encouragement to try things that are difficult.

The 'free choice' is within certain 'bands' but there are hundreds of books within each band. She's not for instance limited to certain reading schemes. She chooses mainly fiction and definitely has a preference for stories that she vaguely knows already such as traditional fairy tales.

I think going back and reading books that she'll handle fluently is a fantastic idea, thank you. I'd love to enjoy reading with her. Hopefully when she doesn't worry about the 'challenge' of the reading experience she'll stop playing up so much before we've even opened the front cover.

simpson Sat 26-Apr-14 16:39:30

DD is also 6 and has gone through phases of refusing to read (although to herself, she loves reading to me) and I just wait for the phase to pass (she is usually into something else at the time instead of reading iyswim).

When she was younger, when reading for pleasure she would always read something much easier than what she was reading at school or to me (she had a year long Topsy &Tim obsession!)

HolidayCriminal Sat 26-Apr-14 16:40:48

Could you get her to write some little stories at home & read them to you? It's still literacy work, but might appeal more?

Twodownonetogo Sat 26-Apr-14 16:49:34

Creature my kid gets to choose his own books too. The children are allowed to choose a book within their level.
OP the thing is, if she is 6 and still sounding out words it's not like she is enjoying a story. She is interrupted by having to work something out all the time. ( I don't know if it's all the time!). Perhaps she gets frustrated with herself at not being able to read her school book fluently. So rather than get tripped up, won't read at all.
The other thing is if you make an issue of it then she will react to your reaction, hence you have a stand off.
Yes it is frustrating that things aren't going the way you expect it to. But you also say her reading age is well above average. She's progressing wonderfully. So what exactly is the problem? You reading to her is helping her a lot. She is learning intonation, punctuation, new vocabulary etc.
Some adults don't read for pleasure, they know how to though. Have a meeting with the teacher and ask her if she knows any strategies that may work. But comes a time when your 6 year old will get sick of you reading to her and she would rather read on her own. By the sounds of your support and her academic ability, she should be reading soon. It just may not be in the time frame you envisage.

catkind Sat 26-Apr-14 16:53:52

If she enjoys being read to, how about some cooperative reading? We often read something every other page, or each pick a character(s) to read, or I get DS to read captions on the pictures if we're reading non-fiction books. I think DS likes not having the pressure of sustaining the whole story on his own, and it means the story moves on faster or we can tackle something more tricky.

We also have phases where DS is "off" school books (despite having a wide choice) and prefers to read other things. There's something a bit relentless about books which are all at exactly the right level and pretty much exactly the same length. DS seems to like sometimes having something really short and easy, sometimes having something longer and more challenging. His teacher is fully on board with us following his lead as long as he's reading something.

Or it may just be the case of finding the right books that she wants to read. For DS it's currently Dr Seuss style silliness smile

starlight1234 Sat 26-Apr-14 16:56:21

My Ds I got plays boy rule..they do a girls version I think girls rock, it is a two part play and I read a line and Ds did.

Also agree don't punish her...but yes I would explain in reading record why she hasn't read but explain you read to her instead...

would she read a comic instead? it is at least reading and developing enjoyment which I think is far more important at this age....

Have you also considered suggesting she reads one of her library books instead of school book.

Also Online books if you search ORT free books you can access them easily..

I remember a teacher used to read half a book so the class would want to read the rest of the book...

final idea..my Ds has just read a junior novel of the Lego movie simply because he loved the film and found it easy to relate...Is there books like that she may enjoy ? or books on a TV program she likes

ContinentalKat Sat 26-Apr-14 17:04:09

Reading with dd (8) was, and is, a similar battle. She reads very well, but rarely for her own pleasure and she absolutely hates reading school books to me.
Our compromise is that she reads them quietly and then tells me about what she has read. If she enjoys a book, she will sometimes read funny passages to me. I don't think reading aloud is a particularly important skill, so I can live with the situation.

BeyondRepair Sat 26-Apr-14 17:40:39

Forget about school books inspiring her to read, this book is what kick started mine to read, got the set for xmas....they are so interesting funny, amazing illustrations, and the chapters are really short....so they feel really accomplished...not many words on a page and very grown up, ie not baby ish...

try one!


before I got these my DD was moaning about all the other books I have accumulated for her and when will she ever read them...got these for xmas and ....she picked one up and was drawn in, and is now a prolific reader, flying along...

Ferguson Sat 26-Apr-14 19:00:07

Another VERY funny book is Anne Fine's "Diary of a Killer Cat". Tuffy the cat belongs to a little girl called Ellie, and he tells the story. There is plenty of scope for different voices, and mock-dramas!

Also, have a look at MN Book Reviews, 'Children's educational books and courses' section, at the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary. It might help her with understanding more about reading and spelling, and give her some control over looking things up, or working them out for herself.

bellasorella Sun 27-Apr-14 16:16:09

As a teacher, it is much better than a child of this age enjoys for pleasure and doesn't see reading as something they MUST do.

Would she prefer to read at a different time of day? Lots of parents read in the evenings when children are tired. Some children prefer to read before school if this is possible.

How about reading magazines together instead, or letting her choose some new books from a shop or library completely on her own. I would be surprised if the school insist that she only reads the school reading scheme books.

Good luck smile

Blu Sun 27-Apr-14 17:07:04

Learning to read, and reading for pleasure are different things.

Let her read books she can easily read, and if she finds words difficult just read them for her without comment, and on a low key encouraging way so that she continues to get the sense of the story. If she finds a whole book hard, read it through to her first, and then have her read it again, aloud. use silly voices for the characters, etc.

And keep reading to her, as much and as often as possible.

And back off with the pressure. the charts, the lectures about her 'attitude', her 'behaviour' - all far too heavy, poor child! Actually your report of your conversation with her in your OP made me feel sad for her, and quite cross. You don't need to get so worked up and put so much pressure on yourself t be the parent of a free-reading child, either.

Relax and enjoy reading to her. In time she will devour books for herself. And there will be a cross over. I read to Ds until he was about 9 - but in addition he was reading his own books.

Mashabell Sun 27-Apr-14 18:52:14

If her reading age is well above average, why are u concerned?

In the rest of Europe children don't start to learn to read until 6 or 7.

PastSellByDate Mon 28-Apr-14 12:51:42

Hi millingtonsmummy:

I think first off the question is does she prefer to read to herself. You make it sound like she's reading very well - so maybe she prefers to read quietly to herself now. Six is early for this stage (to be honest) - but if your child can already real Roald Dahl (which was about the stage my DD1 started to want to read to herself - and that was Y4) - then I think she's cracked the reading out loud and sounding out words thing.

I also think that children (even my 11 year old and 9 year old) enjoy being read to. My girls like to tuck up in bed with me or DH (especially in the winter) and read a good book. DH & I have agreed to the Lemony Snicket (started when DD1 was desperate to read it like her friends, but didn't have the ability to do so), but we're also incorporating our childhood favourites: Charlotte's Web, A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit, etc..

So what can you do to carry on that skill of reading out loud (or at least tolerate it).

My solutions at home have been the following:

1) I won't read another chapter of Lemony Snicket (we're working through the series/ DH won't read more of Lord of the Rings until you read me/ DH a few pages/ chapter of your books (I have 2 DDs.).

2) When we're waiting for DD2 to have her bath anyway - I tend to suggest to DD1 - why not read to me. We've found alternating pages for reading speeds things along & gets her willing to read - you read the page on your side and I'll read the page on my side sort of thing. If your side is just a picture with no words - you don't have to read a thing.

3) I have DD1 read to me from each new book she starts now (most of her pleasure reading is done at night before going to sleep). I discuss tricky words (hard to pronounce, might not understand the meaning, etc...) - at first it was just about pronunciation/ definition but gradually it has moved (now in Y6) to discussing why chose a word like that - how does that help make the point/ move the story forward/ hint at what might happen next etc...

4) No seeing the film until you've read the book.

5) Nights off. By Friday (especially if they have swimming lessons in the evening) they're exhausted - so I tend to give them that night off. But I also just read to them if they're ill or very tired.


AllabouttheE Mon 28-Apr-14 20:46:52

I wrote your post about 3 months ago. Dd about to turn 7

Same thing, above average reader but rubbish school books and total lack of interest in reading. Loads of books on shelf, free access to library etc.

It has slightly improved since I wrote my post. She has finally finished a chapter book within the space of 5 days.
I asked her to read 10 pages in a sitting. And then she got 'into' the story.

She can read pretty much any word in front of her. She'd rather play with her toys.

I'm leaving her be. That's not to say I didn't totally share your frustrations.

millingtonsmummy Mon 28-Apr-14 21:50:36

Thanks for your advice everyone. My DD is such a tricky customer. I hope we're making some progress. I'm continuing to ask her to read to me each day and having to encourage her to do so but the choice of what she reads is entirely up to her. If she wants to read basic books with 2 or 3 words on each page that's fine by me. I just want her to make some effort.

I'd love to let it go completely but if I didn't insist she reads something to me she really really wouldn't even open the cover of a book. She'd be utterly delighted not to read again. I'm not prepared to see how long it would be before she picked up a book voluntarily.

Mashabell Tue 29-Apr-14 07:16:35

I'm not prepared to see how long it would be before she picked up a book voluntarily. But she does read at school and is making good progress. So why not let her be?

We are all prone to strange ideas.
I want to modernise English, so that learning to read becomes less of a chore and fewer children end up never enjoying doing so, because of insane inconsistencies like 'man - many, once - only, treat - tread....'.

I have just come back from a conference in Finland where i was reminded once again what a difference having a sensible spelling system makes. - It makes the lives of children, parents and teachers far less stressful and more enjoyable.

sashh Tue 29-Apr-14 10:21:06

Some people don't read for pleasure, some people don't like stories.

What is she like with books about facts? Or with instructions?

Would she read a recipe and then help you cook? Or the instructions to make a paper airplane?

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Apr-14 10:29:54

Hello OP

She will love reading once she finds something she is happy with. My dd reads a book a day now, is well beyond her peers but was a reluctant reader.
You need to take the expectation away and if she doesn't want to read it won't harm her. my dd didn't read any books for nearly a year and it did her the world of good.
I know its hard when school expect them to read daily, but imo it just makes them more reluctant.
Take her to the library, make it a weekly visit and let her choose her own books.

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