backup og meta

Reluctant Readers: Why Does My Child Refuse To Read?

Medically reviewed by Rubilyn Saldana-Santiago, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 26, 2022

    Reluctant Readers: Why Does My Child Refuse To Read?

    Parents understand that reading is one of the most crucial skills a child needs to learn early on. The ability to read and comprehend opens a wide range of opportunities: they’ll be able to appreciate storybooks better, follow written instructions well, and understand lessons more effectively. But what if your child refuses to read? What are some tips on how to teach reading to reluctant kids? 

    How to Teach Reading: Possible Reasons Why Kids Refuse To Read

    Before discussing the tips on how to teach reading to kids, let’s first establish some of the common reasons why children refuse to read. 

    They Are Not Interested

    The first thing to look into is your child’s interests. 

    If your child watches educational videos from time to time, they might find books “boring,” particularly if there are very few or dull illustrations. 

    Also, please take note that kids may have a “bias” in topics.

    Case in point: they may not like magic or fairy tales, but are very eager to learn about stories involving sports. 

    They Feel Overwhelmed

    Discussing the tips on how to teach reading to a reluctant child will not be complete without mentioning the possibility that they are overwhelmed. 

    Consider the reading material: if your little one sees walls and walls of text, they might refuse to engage in reading because the sentences look long, and reading them might seem tiring. 

    Additionally, please be mindful of the book’s difficulty level. The topic may be interesting, but when the words are too complex and the sentences are hard to understand, the child may feel that reading is such a difficult task. 

    They Don’t Understand Why They Need To Read More

    Preschoolers already study reading at school, but as a parent, we understand that they need “supplementation” at home. 

    A child may become reluctant to read when they don’t understand why practice is important. 

    They Have Underlying Concerns

    Even if you follow the tips on how to teach reading to children, it’ll still be difficult if the child has underlying problems that complicate reading. 

    One thing that may clue you in about a possible problem is when your child seems to really dislike reading. 

    You see, a kid who has underlying concerns may make excuses, bolt, or even behave badly during reading sessions. Sometimes, instead of admitting that they cannot read, they’ll just give the impression that they don’t want to read. 

    Possible underlying concerns include eyesight problems or even dyslexia

    How To Teach Reading To Reluctant Kids

    Looking for some tips on how to teach reading to a reluctant child? The following might help:

    • Give them a choice when it comes to reading materials.
    • Remember to read for fun. Preschoolers might feel like reading is already a requirement at school, so try to make it fun at home. 
    • Read slowly and expressively. Use hand gestures and different intonations. 
    • Reduce their screen time to make more room for reading.
    • Choose reading materials that also stimulate other senses, such as pop-up books, flashcards with pictures, or cloth books. Some “interactive” books also allow your child to write on the pages.  
    • Incorporate reading into other interesting activities, like a puppet show or singing (choose books featuring lyrics of nursery rhymes).
    • For active toddlers and preschoolers, try not to require sitting still. Allow them to stand and move around in between reading pages. 

    Another important thing to do is to work closely with your child’s teacher. They will be able to give you further tips on how to teach reading at home. 

    Finally, if you see some signs that your child has eyesight problems, such as squinting, leaning in too closely, or skipping lines, bring them to the doctor. 

    Do the same thing if you suspect dyslexia. One symptom of dyslexia is developing problems remembering numbers, letters, and colors. 

    Key Takeaways

    Reading is a crucial skill. But sometimes, kids will refuse to read because they find it boring or overwhelming. It’s also possible that they have an underlying condition that makes it hard for them to read. But with encouragement and patience, you can raise an avid reader who loves learning. For other developmental concerns, please consult your child’s pediatrician.

    Learn more about Parenting here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Rubilyn Saldana-Santiago, MD


    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 26, 2022

    advertisement iconadvertisement

    Was this article helpful?

    advertisement iconadvertisement
    advertisement iconadvertisement