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Motivating Reluctant Reader
Old 08-02-2006, 11:23 AM
 
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Need some suggestions on how to motivate my son who is going into 5th grade, who says he "doesn't like to read". I am a Literacy Coach and have always loved reading, so this is making me crazy. I've tried reading with him, letting him pick out books, reward stickers, etc. When asked what books interest him he says "comics, or books about animals (non-fiction)." I can't get him to focus beyond 3 minutes. On rare occassions he claims to have read a book and then can't tell you a single thing about it unless it was in a picture.

In 4th grade he would take a comprehension test without reading the paragraphs and just guess at the answers. His teacher knew this and still let him fail the tests instead of making him go back and do the reading. (I found her to be useless the entire school year).

Help! I am so frustrated as a mother and a "teacher"!


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My son wasn't a reader...
Old 08-02-2006, 02:16 PM
 
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I homeschooled him for the last half of his second grade year for a multitude of reasons. One of them was the fact that he had advanced reading skills, but didn't like to read.

A huge part of our day was devoted to reading aloud. We also listened to lots of novels on tape. He was drawn to the classics, adventure stories, and science fiction. Sign of the Beaver, My Side of the Mountain series, Hatchet series, illustrated classics, Indian in the Cupboard series, Harry Potter books, Hank the Cowdog books, etc.

After he was hooked to listening to stories, I got bad. I'd start a book - read enough to get him really hooked, and then miss a couple of reading sessions because I was "too busy". "I'm so sorry sweetie, I've GOT to get these windows washed. Why don't you just take the book and read the next chapter on your own?" , it worked like a charm.

I think immersion in great stories isn't going to stand a chance of working if your son has reading difficulties, though. You'll have to remediate while you're surrounding him with great stories to listen to and interesting books that are readable for him to practice his developing skills.
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Old 08-02-2006, 03:05 PM
 
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Boys can be like this right at this age. It takes finding a genre of books that they get into, and then can't put down. Maybe animals and comics are some of the only genres that come to mind when you put him on the spot, just to give you an answer.

Have you tried the Hatchet series books, or have you tried "Where the Red Fern Grows," or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe? Read to him for a few minutes every night, and let him explore new genres through you.
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Agree with poster above
Old 08-02-2006, 04:25 PM
 
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My older son was like that at about the same time. The previous poster was absolutely right in my case also. It took finding the right genre. He, it turned out, was a non-fiction reader. Is is Seymour Simon who writes the snakes and weather, etc. books? That it what we started with. Good thing too, he is now a senior in h.s. in accelerated classes and they have them reading many college classics. Who knew? Keep us posted on your progress!
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Old 08-02-2006, 04:25 PM
 
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I am a school librarian, and neither of my children loved to read. It was very frustrating to me also. However, I did whatever I could to make sure reading was done for school including reading aloud to them or listening to books on tape. My kids are now 25 and 21. One reads ALL the time, and the other has just developed an interest in Christian fiction. Continue to be a role model, and let the reading aloud be quality family time. It will happen, I believe.


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How about
Old 08-02-2006, 04:29 PM
 
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graphic novels? You know the ones I mean? The sort of anime things that are like comic books, but you read them from back to front. Not all are appropriate for a fifth grader, but some of them are. My reluctant readers in sixth grade eat these whole.

As a matter of fact, how about comic books?

Has he read Captain Underpants? I know, I know, but the scatalogical humor really gets boys.

How about magazines? Sports, bikes, cars, WW Smackdown (look at these first)......Scholastic often has those sports books like NFL Quarterbacks, NBA Superstars, Year in Sports--as a matter of fact, boys also tend to really like almanacs, which is what Year in Sports is.

It's amazing to me how many boys, who would never read poetry, love Shel Silverstein. He's silly, and boys LOVE silly.

Guinness Books of World Records are huge with boys; so are any books from Ripley's Believe it or Not. You can get both of these fairly inexpensively through Scholastic. Also look for books from the TV show Fear Factor. I have a book about Monster Garage, called Monster Nation, and they can't get enough of it, also books called Hot Cars, Sweet Rides........

My classroom library is consciously boy-friendly; I have engaged many, many reluctant readers just by the wide variety of (mostly nonfiction) reading material that I have. As a generalization (but not a rule), boys tend to like nonfiction much better than fiction.

When he finally gets to late middle school, get him a copy of Guys Read, edited by Jon Schiezska.

I don't think novels are something he's going to pick up; most reluctant readers take one look at a novel, become overwhelmed, and quit, but more boy-friendly material might do it.
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Old 08-02-2006, 04:54 PM
 
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How about encouraging him to start w/ a series that may be below his ability level, but may be what it takes to "hook" him? My third graders love the Hank the Cowdog series as well as most anything by Matt Christopher. The Matt Christopher books range in difficulty from 3rd to 5th. Another shorter series that my boys always like is the Marvin Redpost books. Jean Craighead George has some excellent non-fiction chapter books dealing w/ animals.

When my son was in the 5th grade he refused to read anything but biographies, which were limited in our school library. After he read all of them, then the fights began. For fiction books his interest level was way below his reading level. He was on a 7th grade reading level, but wanted to read the Berenstain Bears chapter books that were about 3rd grade level. We had a battle w/ teachers that wanted them to stay on their reading level. I see nothing wrong w/ reading below level if it helps the child learn to love to read. Instructional reading is a different story, but for recreational reading--to get the child hooked--in my book, anything goes.

Good luck.
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Old 08-02-2006, 04:56 PM
 
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Oh, yes, you should definitely check out

www.guysread.com

Best of luck!
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My own son...
Old 08-03-2006, 05:08 AM
 
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...also struggled with reading and he is graduating from college tomorrow!Whoppee!!! It was so difficult to accept that he disliked reading as much as he did and he definitely affected his grades later on in his high school, however he was a honor roll student.

One thing that was helpful for us was to have my husband read with him instead of me. One book that helped to turn a small corner was the BFG by Roald Dahl. I can still remember them laughing on my son's bed as they read about the 'wizz poppers'....something 5th grade boys can relate to. My husband only reads technical stuff....and ALWAYS reads the directions ( my downfall)... so it wasn't easy for him but he really gave it good effort. He would read a page, my son would read a paragraph, etc. Then he would ask a question or two, in his manly, non teacher way. Later in school, when I would try to help my son with his writing, it was sometimes like WWIII. Again as other posters said, try to find something he wants to hear about. If there isn't a dad in the picture, is there a male somewhere who could help you out? My son loved (loves) me, but needed someone else to help him along.

He never became (so far) the reader I or our daughter is, but he is absolutely fine in this world.

My son has interviewed and accepted a JOB WITH A PAYCHECK and in his interview, he talked about A BOOK HE READ last year in school about business and leadership. He had actually read it all and it helped him land the job.

My point is to keep trying, don't give up, don't expect your son to react as your students do to you, and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.....Good luck.
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Old 08-03-2006, 10:12 AM
 
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Your post made me laugh so hard! It looks like he turned out okay, after all. And you give us all a great reminder--they don't have to LOVE reading; they just have to BE ABLE TO read. My husband always talks smack about reading, how he never liked it, never does it for pleasure (I read for INFORMATION, he says), but you know what? He's an excellent reader, who can read and comprehend anything you put in front of him. So I guess I'm saying not everyone loves to read--maybe he never will (original post). But is he ABLE TO? If the answer is yes, maybe it really isn't such a big deal. If he's at least on grade level, then he's probably going to be okay. If he's a low reader, though, that's completely different, and I think that IS a big worry. Kids who are still low readers by late elementary/early middle school very often remain low readers their entire lives.


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