Blogger Maria Trivisonno

Wrangling Reluctant Readers

My library branch has been flooded with caregivers eager for the children in their charge to avoid the summer slide.  Not all the children, however, are as excited about this endeavor.  How can we help?

Sometimes all it takes is the right book…but getting there can be easier said than done.  Some tips that might work…

First, the simple tips you most likely know already:  ask if there is a book they really liked and get a read alike.  Maybe ask about favorite TV shows or movies, as there are so many tie-in materials that might interest a kid “not into” reading.

Many so-called “reluctant readers” gravitate more towards nonfiction, which is often overlooked and not offered.  I was colorfully reminded of this recently.

A frustrated mom came in with her new-reader daughter.  The little girl was interested in books—but all ones she was not ready to read yet.  She truly was at a site word only, pre-primer level, but wanted more complicated first readers, such as Fancy Nancy or the Disney Princess tie-ins.  I found some likewise “girly” books, which is how mom explained her daughter’s interest, like the Brownie and Pearl series by Cynthia Rylant, but it still did not capture the little girl’s interest.

One of the six science exploration stations at my library.
Kids love, love, love looking at the bugs!!!

Luckily for all of us, our children’s room has many built in nature/science installations for exploring; we are across the street from a large park and these stations are a tie in.  I noticed the girl was entranced by them, and exclaimed that she was a scientist.

Ding ding ding!

I showed them our level A science readers.  The daughter scooped them up right away and again proudly proclaimed that she was a scientist.  Mom and I were both thrilled!

Kids can also often be frustrated if a book is too hard for them, while caregivers want to stretch the child’s ability.  I use what is called the “Five Finger Rule” from Reading Rockets to find the happy medium.

“Five Finger Rule

  1. Choose a book that you think you will enjoy.
  2. Read the second page.
  3. Hold up a finger for each word you are not sure of, or do not know.
  4. If there are five or more words you did not know, you should choose an easier book.

And it’s summer…keep it fun!  Have displays of popular series and readalikes (right now, our young patrons love graphic novels..Dogman, Phoebe and Her Unicorn…Narwhal and Jelly). 

I’m always looking for new tips on how to get kids excited about reading.  Please feel free to share what works for you!

This post addresses the core competency of I. Commitment to Client Group and IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.  


  1. Nicole

    What I really want to know is WHERE DID YOU GET THAT SCIENCE (BUG) INSTALLATION!!?!
    That is awesome!

    1. Maria Trivisonno

      Hi Nicole! I had to do some digging, because the installation pre-dates me. But it’s from RedBox Workshop.

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