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The advantages of reading may seem obvious to an adult as the context of our reading can be very beneficial to our lives. For children however, the motivation to read is less clear as many lack the understanding of how universally important the ability to read is and believe that reading has nothing to offer them (Huot, 2005). Just like adults, there are many benefits for a child who reads. Jobe and Dayton-Sakari(1999) highlight benefits such as; learning new things, discovering new abilities, engaging in new experiences( inclusive of frightening ones) safely, experiencing excitement and adventure, along with escapism. "Reluctance in the early years can lead to poor reading ability due to a lack of experience", (Huot, 2005). I felt all of this was significant to include in the leaflet as it emphasises the importance of reading and how a reluctance to read can be detrimental to a child's learning, thus capturing the attention of the parent to continue reading the leaflet.
What is a Reluctant Reader?
Reluctant readers are those who, for whatever reason, show no interest in reading (Brummitt-Yale, 2008). The phrase "reluctant reader" generally refers to those who do not read primarily because of an unwillingness or disinclination (Huot, 2005). Some people mistakenly interpret a reluctant reader to be so due to a disability such as Dyslexia, but in fact, not all struggling or disabled readers qualify as reluctant readers - they may have a great desire to read but simply lack the necessary skills (Huot, 2005). In fact, only 3% of those with a reluctancy to read struggle due to physical problems (Jobe & Dayton-Sakari, 1999). It is important for parents to know that their child's reluctance to read may not be because of a disability but due to other reasons that they need to be aware of.
Why some children are reluctant to read
Bowker and Pettigrew (2009) claim that there are many reasons why a child may be reluctant to read, and that that these reasons fall under three categories consisting of; Unmotivated, Dormant and, Uncommitted. A child who is unmotivated does not like to read and does not expect to like to read. Jobe and Dayton-Sakari (1999) have found that one reason why a child may not like reading is because they think they are no good at it or are too slow at reading. Earl and Maynard (2006) confirmed this when results from their study showed that many reluctant readers are not confident in their reading ability. Thus a negative relationship arises between reading and a child's attitude towards reading. Another unmotivated reason why a child may not like reading, in particular boys, is because they believe that only girls read. This is a common gender stereotyping in that boys don't read and don't need to read because they are action creatures (Jobe & Dayton-Sakari, 1999). Brummitt-Yale (2008) attributes the prevalence of this stereotype to peer pressure, but also due to his research which has shown that many boys fail to see the connection between reading and real life. Boys look for immediate uses and applications for what they learn, something that cannot be achieved through reading highly fictionalized stories, thus reading appears unappealing to them.
The second category in which a reluctant child reader may be classified under is the Dormant category, which is when they like to read but often don't have the time or don't make time for reading. Jobe and Dayton-Sakari found evidence for this from their research when they found the excuse for many reluctant readers was that they were too busy to read. Many children have too many scheduled events and are caught in the web of immediacy, which prevents them from having time to read. Thus another alliterate is developed. The third catergory in which some reluctant readers may fall under is the Uncommitted category. Children who are uncommitted do not like to read but may do so in the future. An example of this is that they find it easier to watch a video or television that is until they learn how beneficial reading can be. Helping parents understand the reasons behind their child's reluctance to read is key to the success of the child becoming interested in reading. When parents are aware of the specific reason for their child's reluctance, then they can go about the appropriate strategies to help their child develop an interest in reading (Brummitt-Yale, 2008).
How to attract/motivate reluctant readers into reading?
Earl and Maynard(2006) claim that it is vital that parents of reluctant readers are involved with helping their child overcome reluctance, as parental input is crucial to a child's education. They go on to explain that if this input is provided at an early stage, then reluctance to read is more likely to be successfully overcome and may even offer prevention as well as cure. Baker's(2003) research backs up Earl and Maynard's claims as he found that supportive home environments foster motivation for reading, which leads to more frequent voluntary reading, which improves reading achievement. Bowker and Pettigrew (2009) advocate strategies for parents including; reading aloud with your child, reading with enthusiasm, and letting the child select the reading material so reading will be a fun enjoyable experience.
For children who have no interest in reading, Frasher (1978) argues that interest can be forged by capitalizing on the personal interests of reluctant readers and orienting reading programs around these interests. This is in keeping with Hout's (2005) theory of helping reluctant children read as she maintains the key to motivating a reluctant reader to read is by creating interest: "A positive reading experience motivates a reluctant reader to read more; it helps build confidence in their reading ability and enforces in their mind that reading can be enjoyable or beneficial". Brummitt-Yale (2008) found that when children chose reading materials that reflect their lives, interests and personalities, they became more interested in reading. The BBC (2003) highlights the vast amount of alternatives that can rouse reluctant reader's attention such as comics and graphic novels. Krashen (1993, citied in Crawford, 2004) claims that graphic novels are an invaluable tool for motivating reluctant readers due to their strong appeal to children. Furthermore in terms of the issues with boys and reading, it has been found that reluctant boys find reading useful when they read practical texts such as manuals and non-fiction to engage their interest.
From the literature reviewed, it was clear that reading reluctance in children can be helped in two ways, specifically through parental input and by making reading interesting. I felt that the different literature were unanimous in this conclusion, hence why these two approaches were promoted heavily in the leaflet.