The Child Who Hates Reading

If your child or student hates reading then most of the children’s books in the local library will be too hard for them.  I know this seems ridiculous but it’s true.

A child with a learning disability – or a child for whom reading doesn’t come as easily as it does for the next child – will find that there are far too many difficult words in even the youngest children’s books in the library.

Of course, many children’s books are meant to be read to them, not by them.  However, even books which seem to be intended for the child to read may have quite a surprising number of big words in them.  Have a look for yourself.  If your child or student finds reading very difficult and even painful then deciphering words like ‘dragon,’ ‘princess,’ ‘castle,’ ‘elephant,’ ‘dinosaur,’ ‘racing-car,’ etc will be a source of discouragement for them.

Such young readers need words which are three or four letters long.  As it is extremely challenging for an author to write an enthralling (and well selling) children’s book using such words only, they don’t tend to get made.  As a result, book shops and libraries are full of books which your particular child or student will find too difficult.

My suggestion for those parents who have the time would be to write your own.  Yes I know you think I’m crazy, but it’s really not as hard as you might think.  All you need is a computer, a printer, and a few simple ideas, and you’re away.  Your child or student will appreciate repetition of words, so you can’t over-labour a point.

A story six sentences long is plenty to start with.  They can finish reading still feeling refreshed (and, hopefully, not having developed a hatred for reading.)  With children, short and sweet is best.  There is plenty of time later on in life for them to deal with longer stories.

Keep your ideas as interesting as you can whilst using the most basic words we have in our language.  Just use your common sense.  Instead of using the term princess, for example, why not type:  ‘girl with a father who is a king.’  Instead of putting elephants, hippopotamuses, echidnas and dinosaurs into your tiny story, why not use – and even overuse – dog, pup, cat, ant, bat, lamb and frog?

As for pictures, if you’re an artist and you have the time, go ahead.  For everyone else, get them from images on Google.  It might be worth ticking the ‘Common Use’ box so you don’t get accused of copyright – even if it is only for home use.  In the ‘type’ section, you can choose from:  photos, line drawings or clip art.

You might start with:

  •  A cat sat.
  •  The cat was fat.
  •  The fat cat sat on a mat.
  •  A rat was on the mat.
  •  The fat cat sat on the rat on the mat.
  •  The rat got flat.

Of course you don’t need to use rhyming words like I’ve done in the above text, but it can help your child or student.  Once he or she has mastered the first ‘*at’ word, the others are easier.

You may prefer:

  • A frog is on a log.
  • The log is in the mud.
  • The frog is on the log in the mud.
  • The frog sits and sits and sits.
  • A fly sits on the log.
  • Now the frog can eat the fly.
  • But the fly says, “Bye.”

For your font, I would recommend using Century Gothic and making it big, really big, say 18 or 20.  If eyesight is a not-yet-discovered problem, an extra big print will help.

If all this is really and truly too much for you, then please spend some time looking for books for your child or student to read.  Go right through each before presenting it to your child or student.  If the book is mostly made up of small words, it might do the job, but point out to your child or student the big words before you start and tell him or her that you don’t expect them to read them and that you will help.

Whichever you choose, remember that children should still be read lots and lots.  This helps to make reading enjoyable rather than a chore by taking all the work out of it for them.  Also, you can afford to introduce some more difficult words as you’ll be reading them.  Keep reminding your child or student to watch the words while you read because they will learn a lot by doing this.  I’m sure I don’t need to point out how important the time you spend with your child or student is.  It’s not just about education.  Your companionship feeds their soul.

About Gemma Griffiths

Gemma is one of the most thoroughly experienced tutors in Melbourne. She has been a qualified School Teacher for several decades, and has taught all subjects including maths, science and specialising in English literacy. She has been promoted to Head of Department and Library Coordinator, helping many students of all ages and abilities in all areas of their numeracy / maths, problem solving, English literacy (analytical reading / comprehension and expressive writing skills) as well as general study skills such as time management, preparing for assessments and fine tuning their exam taking strategies.

Leave a Comment