We hope to make life-long learners and life-long readers out of our students, which is why it’s so troubling when we hear kids say they hate to read. Why don’t they like reading? One teacher started asking her students, and some of the answers she uncovered might not be what you’d expect.
Here’s an example:
They Believe They Have to Finish Every Reading Selection, No Matter How Long or Difficult
Do this: Have you ever put down a book halfway through because it just wasn’t compelling enough to you? Yes? That’s why I suggest letting reluctant readers stop and move on to the next when they don’t like a book. Not forever. Just until they become good enough readers that reading isn’t a dreaded chore.
Forcing kids who don’t read well to finish material that is far above their ability level or that has no relevance to them can ruin reading for them. Good readers will tackle anything because they know that they will be rewarded by gaining a new perspective, acquiring new knowledge, or entering a completely new world. Poor readers don’t experience those rewards, so it’s difficult to convince them that reading can be enjoyable.
This may go against your teacherly grain, but I urge you to consider it: Tell your students that you will expect them to read half of any article, story, or novel that you give to them. At the halfway point, you will take a class vote to see whether the majority of students want to finish the given selection. If more than half vote against the text, ask your students to write a brief critique of it, and then move on to the next activity.
One of the reasons this approach is so successful is that it gives students the feeling that they have a choice in what they read. And once they know that they can vote to stop reading a story or novel, surprisingly, they will often continue reading it!
Check out the other nine reasons students don’t want to read, and find out how to help them learn to enjoy reading — at any grade level, no matter what you teach.