Many older children, especially reluctant readers, quickly stop reading their chosen book, usually with the reason that, ‘It is boring!’
Many of these children choose books based on the illustration on the cover of the book and perhaps the title. This means that there is often a mismatch between the actual story and the children’s expectation based on the cover illustration. When they do start to read, they will often lose interest before reading to the end of the first chapter or even the first page. This occurs because the first chapter of a book usually introduces the characters and sets the scene and consequently is not particularly reverting reading.
How do we help these children?
Teach children to preview the book
- Look at the illustration and title.
- Read the blurb on the back or inside cover.
- Read any reviews of the book.
- Read the first page of the book.
- Discuss all these features in conjunction to decide if the book may be of interest.
Strategies for getting past the first chapter
- If children do not have the reading stamina or the skills to read through the first chapter, they will lose interest before the book becomes exciting.
- Initially, read the first chapter to get your child ‘hooked into the story’. You need to learn to differentiate between a child saying the book is boring because it is too difficult or challenging to read versus it not really being a story that is interesting. If the child will happily sit and listen to you read the story, then it is likely that it is the first rather than the second issue.
- Encourage your child to read books from a series. If your child likes the first book he/she will know it’s worthwhile persevering through the first chapter for the other books in the series. Your child will also be familiar with the setting, the characters and the author’s writing style which makes it easier for him/her to access the storyline. Some suggestions:
Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne
Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
- Find out what other children are reading and encourage your child to read the same book. This way your child will be able to discuss the book with other children and become inspired by their enthusiasm.
- Set aside time for reading each day – making it a part of your child’s bedtime routine makes it easier to ensure there is time to read. Use the three part strategy described in the video Five Steps for Encouraging Reluctant Readers to Read.
- During the day on the weekend at any random time, read some of your child’s book but stop part way through a chapter or at an exciting part and make an excuse to go off and leave him/her to continue reading independently.
- Make visiting the local library a weekly (or at least monthly) event and ensure there is sufficient time to browse for books and to start reading one of the chosen books.
- Acknowledge and accept that it is okay for your child to sometimes be reading books that are easy or have larger font. If your child can easily read and understand the text, then he/she is more likely to enjoy the book.
- Make sure your child sees you reading novels. Discuss the books you are reading, what you are enjoying and what is difficult. Children need to know that sometimes we, as adult readers, find the first chapter boring or that some parts can be slow moving.
- After your child finishes a book occasionally discuss which sections were the most exciting and which were boring. You want your child to understand and appreciate that it is worth persevering through the boring or slow moving parts.
- Ask the librarian for suggestions for books that get readers hooked from the start. Some suggestions:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Joey Pigza Swalled the Key by Jack Gantos