Literature for the Reluctant Reader
Unfortunately, it is a rare educator who does not have to deal with reluctant readers. Even young adults who enjoy reading are sometimes reluctant to read a particular book and may go through a transitory stage where they do not want to read. To help reluctant readers, teachers and LMS need to identify the cause and utilize a number of strategies to address the problem. Too often, the stereotype of a reluctant reader is a boy who has below grade level reading ability and little literature and/or encouragement to read at home. This stereotype might prove dead-wrong because often good readers are reluctant to read.
Young Adult Literature and the Reluctant Reader
One way to encourage reluctant readers is for educators to use quality young adult literature that addresses the needs of reluctant readers.
- Authors write young adult literature with adolescents’ age level and interests in mind.
- While usually shorter and with an age-appropriate reading level, young adult literature can be well-written and more attractive than a reading book.
- The language and the plots of young adult literature are similar to what students are accustomed to finding in real life, on television, and in movies.
Methods of Encouraging Reluctant Readers
Educators are often concerned about why students begin to read less around the middle grades and how to motivate reluctant readers. With increased socialization, more difficult reading materials, and peer pressure that overshadows personal preferences, some adolescents read only for information and do not enjoy reading for pleasure. However, while it is helpful to understand why students read less, it is more productive to determine ways to motivate them to read.
Perhaps the best way to encourage reluctant readers is to get to know individual adolescents—their reading and interest levels and their reading preferences. Then, try some of the following strategies to encourage them:
- Provide a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction, with appropriate reading levels.
- Stay in touch with adolescents’ current interests and provide books that reflect these interests.
- Use booktalks to entice adolescents and to showcase a variety of books.
- Read books aloud and model enthusiasm for reading by carrying a book with you.
- Use audiobooks in classrooms and encourage adolescents to listen to them.
- Allow students to “self-select” their own books.
- Encourage an interest in short stories, graphic novels, and magazines and work up to full-length books.
- Use alternatives to traditional book reports.
- Give extra academic credit for books read while trying to get learners to read for more intrinsic rewards.
- Encourage students to realize they can read and still be accepted by peers.
- Use Internet resources to find out more about favorite authors.
- Respect the reading interests of young adults and do not expect them to enjoy only the books you suggest.
- Encourage parents and families to set aside “reading times” at home.
- Relate reading to video reinforcement—read the book, see the video.
- Provide an atmosphere conducive to reading—respect for books and comfortable places for reading—and perhaps appropriate background music.
- Encourage businesses and community organizations to donate age- and interest-appropriate books.
- Encourage student “booktalks,” so adolescents can share the pleasures of motivating others to read.
- Encourage educators in all curricular areas to provide adolescents with reading opportunities.
- Form “reading clubs” and book discussion groups that provide adolescents an opportunity to discuss.
- Investigate the use of reading incentive programs such as Accelerated Reader where students receive points for reading and redeem the points for prizes.
- Encourage learners to bring their own books to school, ones they find interesting.
- Provide time for recreational reading, so learners realize reading is not always schoolwork.
- Incorporate more young adult literature into the curriculum to develop interest in and a love for books.
- Provide young adults with attractive book lists, divided by subject, interest, and reading levels. Be sure there are some “thin books” on the list.
- Have a classroom collection of books that students can check out.
Educators can use some resources to locate books for reluctant readers and to provide more ideas for reaching this audience. These include More Rip-Roaring Reads for Reluctant Teen Readers (1999) by Bette D. Ammon and Gale W. Sherman, Reaching Reluctant Young Adult Readers: A Handbook for Librarians and Teachers (2002) by Edward T. Sullivan, and Radical Reads: 101 YA Novels on the Edge (2002) by Joni Richards Bodart. Suggestions for Collaborative Efforts 11–4 looks at forming partnerships to reach reluctant readers.
© ______ 2006, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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