Ten Steps to Tempt a Reluctant Reader

Reading can be overwhelming and high-pressure, whether you are just learning, generally unenthusiastic, or even if you are an avid reader in a temporary rut. Explore these suggestions to help encourage and engage any reluctant reader. Our librarians also stand ready to suggest specific titles based on a reluctant readers' time, interests and abilities.

1. Focus on the fun, and heap on lots of praise. If things are becoming a struggle, take a pause.

2. Build confidence by reading small, short things (think super short: street signs, book titles, words on food packaging). Share your own reading struggles to show that reading isn’t always easy.

3. Offer choice. The library holds millions of titles that come in different formats (audio, print, e-book, graphic novels, movies) different genres (nonfiction, mystery, poetry, biography, science fiction, history, romance) and different levels. Don’t be afraid to read books that are “too easy” or to listen to books that are “too hard”. 

4. Create a reading culture that includes a comfortable place for the reader, an abundance of available reading material, and time set aside just for reading. Make sure your reader has a library card and knows how to use it.

5. Find a purpose. Reading for fun is great, but reading to learn how to cook, to grow a garden, or to build a project lends weight to reading. Reading to argue can also be motivating; choose hot-button topics designed to spark debate.

6. Make it social. Read aloud together or start a book club. Talk about what you’re reading and what you like about it. Come to the library and ask for a recommendation– or give one yourself. 

7. Write. Start a journal, write a letter, make a list or write out instructions. Email your government representatives, or send a fan letter to a favorite author. Make a list of your favorite names, words, dog breeds, anything you'd like.

8. Search for reading role models. Celebrities like Levar Burton, Dolly Parton, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Jenna Bush Hager and Barack Obama offer recommendations, book clubs and access to literary content.

9. Plan for rewards. Celebrate success with thoughtful rewards, including a new or special book, time to stay up late to read, or watching a movie after finishing the book.

10. Keep trying. Do not give up, whether the reluctant reader in question is your child, your friend, or yourself.

Need more? Fill out the form below to receive a no-pressure tailored book list through our May We Suggest service.