What to Do When Your Child Hates to Read

My daughter doesn’t like to read.

There. I said it. 

It feels shameful, like we did something wrong when we tried so hard to do it all right.

Her dad and I read to my pregnant belly each night. We read to her as an infant before every nap time, every bedtime, and just for fun in between. Since she was a toddler, we regularly visited the library for storytime and let her choose her own books. Our home is FULL of books. In bedrooms, a mini-library in the playroom, and even a basket of books in the living room that I change out of the holidays and seasons. Her grandparents shower her with books and have always happily sat down to read her stories.

After ALL THAT, she announced that she doesn’t like to read. She hates to read.

What to Do When Your Child Hates to ReadIf you have a child like this, you are probably desperate to find out where you went wrong or what else you can do.

Look into WHY your child hates reading.

My daughter was set up to love books and all the magic reading can bring to her life. However, her brain wasn’t set up to be able to learn to read easily. We believe she has dyslexia, which is a learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Simply put, she doesn’t like reading because it’s really, really hard for her. Maybe your child is the same way. Or maybe there is something else going on. Check out this list of 6 reasons kids refuse to read.

No blame, no shame.

If your child is struggling with reading, they need to know that it’s not their fault. Their brain was made in an amazing way which comes with many strengths. My daughter is an amazing artist for her age and is constantly figuring out how things work. Point out these gifts in your child because they brush them off as “easy” despite the fact that building an elaborate Barbie house out of cardboard or mastering the pogo stick would highly frustrate most people.

Gently explain that everyone has their hard thing; like the sibling who is petrified of taking swimming lessons or the friend who can rarely eat the goodies at birthday parties because of food allergies. Your child deserves empathy, but also needs to know that everyone has their struggles, whether we can see it or not.

Remember that decoding isn’t real reading.

Any child who hates reading probably actually only hates decoding; which is figuring out how to say the words. The most important part of reading is understanding, called comprehension. Chances are, your reluctant reader is pretty good at comprehension because they have learned to rely on what they hear to understand. If your child enjoys audiobooks, they don’t actually hate reading. 

Find help!

Talk to your child’s teacher and Grant Wood AEA if you think your child hates reading because it’s harder than it should be. The evaluation process isn’t quick, but it can determine if your child would benefit from help. In addition, the school can provide accommodations through an IEP or 504 Plan like having any text read to them when not testing reading skills. If one of these plans will help, that’s ok! It doesn’t mean your child is not smart, it means you are doing everything you can to help your child succeed. My very bright daughter qualified for an IEP and really enjoyed attending her reading group before COVID shut everything down. Meeting in her group eased her frustration and helped her feel less alone. 

As a homeschooler, I also recommend an Orton-Gillingham-based reading program like All About Reading or Logic of English. These are one-on-one lessons that are written to be mostly open and go without much prep on your part. You or a tutor could work with your child to build the skills they need. These programs can work for any child – public, private or homeschool. A tutor could simply be an older teen or adult you trust to go through the curriculum with your child. I have experience with all four levels of All About Reading and it is set up so anyone can follow it. No expertise needed! It can be done in as little as 20 minutes per day. Little by little, they will get there.

Check back for a follow-up post on MORE ideas and resources to encourage your struggling reading into a growing reader.

Hang in there, mama. You are not alone.

 Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox.  While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms’ events and promotions!!




Screwing Up Santa: That Time I Blew the Big Secret

"Mama? Are you Santa?" Those words are etched into my heart to this day. Big was 7 and, still believing in Santa, gathered around the Thanksgiving table with both sets of grandparents for some pie. ...

The Best Sledding Hills in the Cedar Rapids/Marion Area

When life gives you snow, go sledding. We set a goal of visiting every public sledding hill in the area – and I’m proud to say, that after 8 weeks, 7 sledding hills, 4 gallons...
How I Survive the Holidays: An Ode to Amazon & Hallmark Movies

How I Survive the Holidays: An Ode to Amazon & The Hallmark Channel

Can we just take some time to celebrate two of the greatest things that help us survive the holidays? Amazon and Hallmark Christmas Movies. As you know, it's a season that is filled with a lot...
Wrapping Up Experience Gifts for Kids in Cedar Rapids

20+ Experience Gift Ideas for Kids in Cedar Rapids

I'm all about experience gifts for kids this year. Yes, I hear you. You are saying that experience gifts sound like a great idea, but, “They need something to open!”  No worries, I’ve...
5 Gifts for Grandparents They Will Treasure

5 Unique Christmas Gifts for Grandparents

Grandparents are invaluable, especially when they are some of the very best. It can also feel impossible to shop for grandparents at Christmastime. There is very little they need and they also often have the...
Join our community.
Be the first to know about new resources, can't-miss happenings, and new blog articles! 
Yay, we're so glad you're here! Keep an eye on your inbox