No parent wants to hear, "Mom, I hate reading." But in all likelihood, at some point many of us will hear it from one of our children. A few months ago, my son told me, "Reading is just something I am good at, not something I like."
I am pretty sure the sound of my heart breaking could have been heard from miles away.
What are our kids really saying when they tell us they hate reading?
1. It's hard.
Yes, reading is tough. Reading the wrong material is even tougher. As parents, if this is what your child means when he says he hates reading, your job is to find the right level of material for him to read.
2. I'm really struggling.
It's hard to ask for help, and children want to please their parents. Reading is something children see adults do easily, and they may feel ashamed to tell their parents they can't do it. It's simpler to refuse to do it because they hate it than to say, "I can't." It may be confidence, it may be some letter sounds that they need to practice, or it may be something much deeper than that. If you suspect your child may have a learning disability that is hampering her reading, talk to your child's teacher or pediatrician who can point you towards the proper local agency to have her tested.
3. It's boring.
In college, I had a textbook that was so boring I had to sit on the floor with my back against a cinderblock wall so that when I nodded off I would hit my head against the wall and wake up. Sometimes reading is boring, but it doesn't have to be for our kids...not yet, anyway. Ask him what makes it boring. As a team, take time to find him the right things to read. Maybe you skip the novels and dive into comic books, or forget fiction and read books filled with facts. Make it your mission to find interesting things for him to read.
4. I'd rather be outside/online/at a friend's house.
Sometimes it's a matter of shifting schedules to get kids to read for fun. No one thinks that something is fun when they are forced to do it. "Stop bothering your sister, go up to your room, and read!" doesn't sound like a treat. Staying up "past" her bedtime to read is a wonderful way to get reading in without making it compete with other activities. More than one voracious reader was created between being tucked in and lights out.
As parents we need to open up our minds to what a child who is reading looks like. Reading for many of us means reading a novel, but children can read so many other things. Before we decide that our kids really do hate reading, take time to see if what they are saying is: It's hard, I'm struggling, I'm bored, or I'd rather be outside.
So what was my son saying when he told me he hated reading? "I'm bored of these early chapter book mysteries." I sat back and thought about what I was offering him to read and we switched it up together. Books full of wacky facts, Pokemon reference books, and sports magazines are his favorite things to read now, and I haven't heard a peep about him hating to read since!