How to Hook a Reluctant Reader

Try these strategies to help to get your reluctant reader into books.

By Allison McDonald
Jan 07, 2016



Tensed boy sitting with stack of books

Jan 07, 2016

Any child can be a reluctant reader: good readers, struggling readers, kids that would rather be playing video games. If you have established that they are not reluctant because they are struggling with the mechanics of reading, then it’s time to try to hook them! It’s not always an easy task and sometimes it takes a few steps before you can call it a success.

Before you can even introduce the book you hope to hook your reluctant reader with, you will need to make sure reading time is established. A child who hasn’t had time carved out for reading in their routine and is already reluctant, will likely resist even the coolest book if they feel like they are being punished by being forced to read. Make sure that reading time is established before you move to the next step.

Go to the library and let your child pick out the books they want and grab a few you think they would love if they could just get hooked too. If they don’t want anything don’t force them to choose anything, just grab some. I suggest the library first because the next advice is important…you’ll see.

Establish a two-chapter rule. This works beautifully for my son and it’s how I have hooked him time and time again. After two chapters he can put the book down forever, but he has to give it at least two chapters. This is my secret weapon. This is how I got my son into Holes, Matilda, The BFG, and more. After a few chapters he was far too invested to give up. Try to keep this light and fun, not punitive. My son has given up on some books I really wish he’d read but forcing him to read is counterproductive.

My final trick to hook them is to loosen up. Suggest a book with humor that might not be your cup of tea but will delight your child, allow them to stay up a little later IF they are reading, and don’t be stuck on novels as the only reading that is valuable.

Here is my short list of books that have never let me down. They have helped me hook readers for years. You will see that many of these are series, this isn’t luck, this is by design because while hooking a reluctant reader on one book is great, if you hook them on a series you have hit the jackpot!

  1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  2. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  3. Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald
  4. 13 Story Tree House series by Andy Griffiths
  5. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  6. The Great Brain by John Dennis Fitzgerald
  7. Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  8. Holes by Louis Sachar
  9. Franny L. Stein series by Jim Benton


Check out bloggers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald's book, Raising a Rock-Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading. Get expert advice and learn new strategies for your young readers.




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