Guest Blog Post: Top 5 Tips for Reluctant Readers


Authors’ Top 5 Tips for Reluctant Readers

 By Louisa Onomé 
 The uncertainty of world events means that we’re turning to books in more ways than ever this year. We may find ourselves going from voracious readers to only picking up one book here or there. If that’s the case, then how can we expect our kids to be any different? 

 Well, if anyone knows how to connect with reluctant readers, it’s the new crop of kidlit authors debuting in 2021. If debuting in (what we hope is) the tail end of a pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how to make reading exciting. Some of the 2021 YA/MG debuts have pooled together our best tips to make sure we can keep our youngsters reading all year. Let’s hear what they have to say. 

 “As the mother of a child with dyslexia who struggled mightily to learn to read, this topic is near and dear to my heart,” says Jessica Vitalis, author of The Wolf’s Curse (Greenwillow). “One of the most important factors in encouraging reluctant readers to develop a healthy relationship with literature is to read books out loud to them so that they develop positive associations with stories. It’s also important to help reluctant readers find topics and genres they are passionate about––for example, I love dark fantasy, whereas my daughter is drawn to contemporary books with a lot of humor. Finally, I’d encourage gatekeepers to offer reluctant readers a variety of formats to find what works best for them––this includes audio books, graphic novels, poetry, and illustrated novels.” 

 Erica George, author of Words Composed of Sea and Sky (Running Press), writes: “There is nothing more important to me than putting books in the hands of young readers, and as an English Language Arts teacher, I know that this can often be a struggle! My biggest tip is to show that reluctant reader in your life how important books and reading are to you. If reading is a central part of your everyday life, then you’re modeling good practices and showing your reader how important books are daily. Another important consideration is not to make reading a chore. If we tell our readers that they must read for a certain amount of time before they can do something more appealing (have dessert, go outside, play video games), then we’re making it a punishment rather than a joy.” 

 Auriane Desombre, author of I Think I Love You (Underlined), shares similar sentiments: “As an English teacher, I know it can be a struggle to find books that connect with reluctant readers! I think it’s important to limit policing of what “counts” as reading. Listening to audiobooks, picking out graphic novels, or rereading a favorite book (even if it’s for the seventeenth time) should all count as reading! Try to engage with young readers in a positive way by making time for reading together and talking about your own favorite books to start genuine conversation about books. Above all, allow reluctant readers to read on their own terms by looking for stories they feel passionate about in a format that feels accessible to them.” 

 Regardless, when working with a reluctant reader, it’s best to remember that there are many things that endear them to a book. Why not try out one of the books by our 2021 debut class? From expansive and engaging relationships to fantasy worlds dripping with character, there’s sure to be something for every reader, reluctant or not. 

 Check out the Class of 2k21’s middle grade projects here and let us know which ones would make a perfect gift for the reluctant reader in your life!

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