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Hooking Struggling Readers Using Books They Can and Want to Read

best books to read

Nurturing an interest in reading amongst struggling readers remains a challenge for educators and parents. They often struggle to find the balance between interest and selecting the right book for these learners. The key, however, is to leverage books that are not only accessible but also appealing to these learners.

Here are some ways to hook struggling readers using books.

Identifying the Struggling Reader

Below are some signs to spot a struggling reader:

  • Difficulty decoding words
  • Slow reading rate
  • Limited vocabulary
  • Lack of fluency
  • Poor comprehension
  • Avoidance of reading
  • Frustration and lack of confidence
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Limited interest in reading
  • Difficulty following instructions

It is important to note that these signs can vary, and the presence of one or more does not necessarily mean a child is a struggling reader. However, if several of these signs persist, it could be beneficial to explore additional support.

Also Read: Goals for First Graders For Early Reading And Writing

Strategies for struggling readers

  1. Matching Readers with Appropriate Books
  2. According to Dr. Richard Allington, a top literacy expert, children should focus on reading texts that they find easy to understand. This helps in building fluency and confidence. Follow these steps to select the right books that will aid the child in improving their reading skills.

    • Find their current reading level
    • Observe the child’s reading habits and behaviours. Check if they are struggling with decoding words, hesitating frequently, or showing signs of frustration. Engage them in conversations about their reading to gauge their current levels of reading.

    • Look for books that match that level
    • High-interest and low-readability books and graphic novels are the ones to look out for. Some of the books are:

      • The Diary of a Wimpy Kid
      • Goosebumps
      • Who was?
      • Elephant and Piggie
    • Do a five-finger vocabulary check
    • Ask your child to hold up five fingers and read one page of a book. Each time your child does not know a word, put one finger down. If all five fingers end up down, the book is too hard.

    • Do a comprehension check
    • Ask your child to pause after reading a few pages and tell you about what was just read. Make sure your child understands the book.

  3. Interest and Engagement
  4. Students who consistently read for their interest are often engaged with their reading and are usually highly achieving readers. They finish the book even if it is challenging to understand. When the book is relevant for students, they are more likely to become engaged with the text.

  5. Offering Variety
  6. Have a variety of books for the child, including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and topics they enjoy like sports or animals. Encourage them to try different kinds of books to keep them interested and help them learn more words and understand various text styles.

    Also Read: Top Books on Famous Inventions and Inventors

  7. Integrating Multicultural and Diverse Books
  8. Having different kinds of books in the learning space is important. Books that show different cultures, languages, and ways of life act as windows to the reader. When readers see themselves in the stories, it gets them more interested. For others, these books give a peek into lives different from different perspectives, helping them understand more about the world.

  9. Utilising Technology and Multimedia Resources
  10. Incorporating multimedia resources is a helpful approach to captivate struggling readers. Digital books, audiobooks, and interactive reading apps offer useful features like read-aloud options and text highlighting. These tools act as supportive aids, helping readers decode and understand the text better. For struggling readers, these resources make reading less intimidating, enabling them to enjoy the content without feeling held back by their reading difficulties.

  11. Series and Familiar Characters
  12. For many struggling readers, following a series of familiar characters can offer a sense of comfort and reduce anxiety associated with reading. When readers already know the characters and setting, they can focus more on understanding the story rather than figuring out new situations. Moreover, the curiosity about what will happen next in the characters’ lives serves as a strong incentive to continue reading.

    Also Read: What Is Preschool Readiness?

  13. Structured Reading Programs and Interventions
  14. Structured reading programs and interventions, like those informed by the Reading Recovery approach or Levelled Literacy Interventions, often include strategies for selecting books for struggling readers. These approaches highlight reading as a meaning-making process while providing scaffolding to help readers negotiate the challenges of texts.

  15. Teacher and Parental Support
  16. Teachers and parents help struggling readers find books they like and can read. By giving them chances to read, talking about books, setting goals, and celebrating their reading achievements, they encourage a love for reading. Teachers can also use individual conferencing to help students reflect on their reading choices and growth, thus personalising the learning experience.

  17. Addressing the Language Barrier
  18. For English language learners (ELLs), language can be an added obstacle. Bilingual books or those written in simple English can be essential tools to help ELLs engage with literature. Books that integrate visuals can make comprehension easier for readers learning English and help increase their confidence and competence in the language.

Helping struggling readers love reading is doable with the right strategies. Just provide books at their level and match their interests to boost engagement and improve literacy outcomes. The balanced approach requires a conscious effort to populate bookshelves and digital libraries with diverse, exciting, and readable options.

With a steadfast commitment to aligning reading materials with both ability and inclination, we at EuroSchool turn the tide for struggling readers, transforming reading from a challenge into a lifelong source of joy and learning.



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