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Reluctant Readers - Ideas Required. What can I take in for them to read?

18 replies

squilly · 08/10/2008 10:44

I'm part of a reading volunteer scheme at the local school. We take in material for kids who are reluctant readers and try to increase confidence by listening to them read or playing games with them.

This year I have 2 Y6 boys, one is keen on computers, one on art.

I often buy magazines for them, if I think they're appropriate. I can get PC world, or something similar for the computer boy. I also have a 'build your own website' book in mind for him.

The art boy I don't know where to start with him. I don't know what he's specifically interested in (yet) but does anyone out there have any ideas on where I could start?

I only have 20 minutes with each boy, twice a week, but it's a golden opportunity to increase confidence and help them develop an interest in reading. Has anyone got any ideas on what might be good????

OP posts:
Anngeree · 08/10/2008 10:58

Have you thought about making puppets that can be used as a visual aid when reading? Use felt & fabric glue for quickness that should keep the boy who likes art interested.

squilly · 08/10/2008 11:19

Thanks for that Anngeree. I think that would be fab for younger kids...I just wonder whether the average 9-10 year old would find it 'cool'? I need to find a twist on this to make it work. It's given me something to think about though.

I know my 7 year old struggles with this kind of thing sometimes. She likes cute stuff, but she knows that others may laugh at her for it. I don't think she's particularly sophisticated but she likes to think she is.

I think part of my problem with this scheme is that my experience of kids this age is limited. I understand younger kids better as I have more experience of them. Kids in Y6 seem to be much more mature and I struggle with how to relate to them.

I usually take in things like the Nintendo mag. Last years boys got me into Top Gear and Top Trumps...both useful for reading material, though the former was a bit tricky even for me at times and the latter seemed a bit too trivial iykwim!

I need all the help I can get, so thanks for your response anngeree

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Anngeree · 08/10/2008 11:28

What about drama, allowing him to take on the roll of a character from the book this can increase confidence also involve him in the story. Ask him questions about what he would do in this particular situation. I'm just batting ideas about like you i've more experience with younger children.

lljkk · 08/10/2008 11:48

Comics, Simpsons especially.
I think Futurama too old, but you might check.

squilly · 08/10/2008 12:14

Time constraints aside, the drama thing sounds like a good idea. I also read somewhere that spelling out words with a water pistol against a wall or on a floor is good fun. I quite like that one, but don't think it's appropriate for other people's kids, sadly.

I like the idea of the Simpsons mags. I do Simpsons top trumps and they usually go down well. Thanks lljkk.

Am off to the schools library lending service to see what they got. Hopefully I can fudge the first few sessions, til I get to know what they like a bit better.

If anyone has a y6 age kid who's a reluctant reader and they've found something they took to, please share. It would be SO appreciated.


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christywhisty · 08/10/2008 14:58

DS 13 (Yr8) has been a reluctant reader until this summer and now become a little bookworm

Things that he would read in primary were

Top Gear Magazine
Horrible Science Magazine
Factual books like Guiness Book of Records
Jackie Chan Magazine
Captain Underpants
The only novels he read were Harry Potter

but he used to listen to a lot of story tapes before he went to bed.
What actually started him reading novels were the Alex Rider books. I bought him a set on CD he finished listening then couldn't wait to hear the next one , so bought the latest and actually read it.

Since then he has been reading

The Cherub series (might be little old for Yr6)

The Hive series

Charlie Higson Young Bond books

Percy Jackson series

squilly · 08/10/2008 20:49

Christywhisty, you star!

I've just been out and bought the National Geographic magazine, as it had a pair of 3d glasses and loads in about space. I know boys like their facts. I'm surfing for Top Gear books (I think they did a set of books aimed at youngsters recently). My previous boys liked Top Gear but the magazine was a bit tricky for them and me if I'm honest. All that jargon and metaphors. Drove me a bit nuts!.

I've never heard of the Cherub series. I'll check it out.

I usually source a few barrington stokes books too. They tend to specialise in slower readers, being high interest, lower reading age.

Thanks so much for the advice. I think at least one of last years boys will be a slow developer as he's so interested in everything and so enthusiastic. The other boy has more issues with reading, but I know his mum's really supportive, so I'm sure they'll crack it.

Boys are so reluctant to read at 5 and 6 it often puts them off the whole subject, then they have this block with it as they get older and struggle with it. It's not fair to start our boys reading so early, when they're clearly not ready. The blardy government targets are to blame imo.

Hopefully, my new boys will just be late bloomers too!

Thanks again for the advice.

OP posts:
maverick · 09/10/2008 08:43

I'd be interested to know what their actual reading ages are. Any chance of finding out, squilly?

squilly · 09/10/2008 09:21

Hi Maverick

I do a reading test with them a couple of weeks in, so I'll know at the end of that. I suspect it'll be around the 8 years mark if last years boys were anything to go by. Having said that, each child is different, so who knows?

It's a middle-class school I go to, which doesn't automatically have a bearing, but I think the problems are generally more supported and less pronounced than in the kind of school I went to as a kid.

The one lad has confidence issues - he's the one interested in computers. Dyslexia was mentioned for the other boy, so I'm sorting out the coloured reading guides, just in case. I know they don't necessarilly help, but it's got to be worth a try!

I'll post again when I know the reading ages. Maybe then people will know what to suggest. I know it's hard to propose reading material for anyone...reading is such a personal thing, but I figure if parents don't know this stuff, who does??

Thanks for the response Maverick. Much appreciated.

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maverick · 09/10/2008 13:35

I recommend you do an Alphabet Code Knowledge test with them too. I'm a remedial reading tutor and ALL the children who come to me lack knowledge of the advanced code.

If you don't know the code then it's really difficult to read. Sadly, interesting material won't overcome the knowlege and skills problem.

There's an alphabet code test on this page:

squilly · 09/10/2008 19:11

Hi Maverick

What do you do? Get them to read the letter sounds???

I've read the accompanying newspaper items and they're fascinating. Is the lady in this piece you? Or do you know her?

The only downside I can see here is that we're not supposed to teach...just read on a one to one basis and use the pause, prompt, praise technique. I've always struggled with this as I feel there's more to be done, like analysing the root cause of the difficulties. This sounds like it would be ideal.

I can easily do the code test as part of the initial benchmarking process. From there I can hopefully incorporate the specific sounds into things like word searches and crosswords.

Do you have any more advice? It's all eagerly accepted

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dinasaw · 10/10/2008 11:27

I would second the Top Gear books, there are 3 or 4 books aimed at kids out now. They have lots of images from the shows with captions and small boxes of information to read.
Lots of factual books, such as the Doring Kindersley books, groups such as Book People often have a set for a good price.
Dinosaurs and animals go down well with boys, as does history, particularly military machines.
Guinness World Records is another good one that has been mentioned. You can often buy old versions in charity shops. Perhaps you could set a task to find out about some records that have changed between two editions?

maverick · 10/10/2008 15:32

squilly, I'm an independent, remedial reading tutor and if you mean the Exeter newspaper article, yes, that is me

It's hard to be diplomatic here so please don't take this personally, but really, going into a school to try and enthuse struggling readers to read through presenting them with 'interesting material' and 'pause, prompt and praise' is a complete waste of your time and their's.

The organisation/charity that arranges this has its heart in the right place but hasn't a clue about teaching reading - what you're being asked to do is a whole language procedure based on the unfounded belief that anyone can learn to read simply by being given interesting stuff to read AKA 'exposure to print'.

These boys have been let down big time by everyone in their past education- they have never been been taught the complete alphabet code, explicitly and thoroughly.

If you're not allowed to teach them then I don't know what you can do but you have to do something. You may be their last chance to get aboard the literacy bus.

I have a few suggestions:

  1. Anyone interested in the evidence-based teaching of reading should get hold of, 'Why children can't read' by Prof. Diane McGuinness -it's out of print so look on Amazon marketplace or Abebooks.

2. The next step, if you're serious about really helping struggling readers of any age, is to get trained in a synthetic phonics remedial programme -I, naturally, recommend the one I use, the Sound Reading System (5 days training) -to find out more, look on my website
3. In the meantime, if you've a poor reader in front of you -I suggest you get hold of Read Write Inc's book (photocopiable) Phonics 'Speed Sounds Lesson Plans': A photocopiable worksheet is provided for each lesson alongside a scripted lesson plan, or, though not quite so good IMO, 'The Butterfly Book' by Irina Tyk pub. by Civitas, and sneek it into your lessons if you can't do it overtly

If there's anything you'd like to know, just ask and I'll try to help.
squilly · 10/10/2008 15:54

Thanks Maverick. Your comments are constructive, though discomforting, and not at all surprising.

I did this last year for 10 weeks and just felt useless. All I did was help a quiet kid become much more chatty in class! It gave the two kids I had a break from the routine of class, but didn't help them to read at all. I just felt like I'd let them down at the end of it all

It did make me think about teacher training, but I'm a bit old now to be going down that route! The 5 day course you referred to sounds interesting though. I'll take a look.

I would feel much more comfortable helping them in a more structured way so wlil check out the webpage. I noticed they had some interesting games on the site, so will definitely take notice of those.

I'll also try to sort a copy of the book you've referred to. I did source a few books on dyslexia, reading difficulties, but none were specific enough to help in the short time I have available. Or they interested me, but weren't instructional.

Lots of food for thought!!! I may get back to you Maverick, as time goes by. I'm sure school won't fund any training and I can't afford to fund myself, right now, but I think that has to be the goal. Formal training in an area that will do some real good would give me the chance to really help instead of just playing at it.

While I am playing at it though, the advice on interesting material helps dinasaw!

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maverick · 10/10/2008 16:13

Training takes place in Oxford.
Grants for Training in the Sound Reading method: Grant awards are available on an individual basis for people who want to attend a training but have financial difficulties. Grants are restricted to people who intend to apply their new knowledge as tutors or classroom teachers. To apply for a grant, send a letter to Our Right to Read setting out your circumstances in detail

If you're keen, I recommend ringing or emailing Fiona Nevola asap.

christywhisty · 10/10/2008 16:57

Squilly DH's school life was ruined by being taught "Look and Say" on so many levels (being bullied, not being allowed to do certain subjects, he made up for it once he left school.
Thankfully DS was taught synthetic phonics and can read well, although he does have dyslexic problems he functions really well in top set.

squilly · 10/10/2008 17:58

Maverick. Thanks. I will email Fiona. I don't think I'd be entitled to any kind of grant, but it would be good to find out a bit more about things.

I couldn't make the next course anyway, so February will probably be the earliest.

Christywhisty, I'm so glad that your husband managed to turn things around after leaving school and your son sounds like one of my old boys. I told his mum that I'd be so proud if my dd turned out to be half as bright as her boy. I hope his mum manages to find some support for him in the senior school.

I was bullied, for different reasons, but I know the fear of it never really leaves you. And you tend to worry about your dc, in case they are ever treated in the same way. to email Fiona on the other computer!

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Smee · 10/10/2008 20:08

Squilly howabout Asterix or Tin Tin? Very visual and funny, but not at all patronising. There's some unusual words (eg Latin names in Asterix), but that would give you an easy in with them, as I wouldn't expect many boys their age to be able to read them without a bit of help. You can get them at the libraries round here.

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