How to help a reluctant reader

by | Oct 15, 2020

As a mum of a reluctant reader, this is not a new challenge for me.

I’ve been all around the houses and back again trying to encourage a love of reading in my daughter, but nothing really seems to work. In fact, I’ve even written in defence of the reluctant reader because I’ve felt the injustice, on her behalf, of how it feels to be constantly pushed in a direction you don’t really want to go.

My daughter is thirteen now and I wonder whether she will ever be a reader.

The thing is, she loves stories and her latest passion is Anime. Both my daughters have watched film after film and series in Japanese and they seem to have truly captured their imaginations.

how to help a reluctant reader - Nikki Young

Why? I wasn’t entirely sure myself to begin with, but when I asked what was so captivating, they told me all about storylines that spoke to them, in terms of how they often feel in their current lives, and of stories that pull on the heartstrings because of their deep and meaningful nature.

I can’t argue with that, can I?

Furthermore, I realised that considering these films and programmes are in Japanese, there is no choice but to read the subtitles if you want to understand what’s going on so it occurred to me that they are actually reading! I should also add to this that they have bought quite a few anime books between them now too. These are graphic novels, so again are ideal for reluctant readers. you also have the novelty of reading them from the back to the front in true Japanese style.

We have subtitles on almost all the time in our house. This is because one of my children has auditory processing difficulties which means they often miss the spoken word. It is not a case of being hard of hearing, more a difficulty catching everything and interpreting it quick enough.

I have noticed when watching programmes that are subtitled, even though they are in English and I can hear what the actors are saying and I can also lip read, I still read the subtitled text. It’s as though it stands out the most and so, visually, I cannot ignore it.

Some might find this distracting, but I have also come to realise that I too, do not always hear correctly what a character has said, or indeed, catch everything, so having the text there is useful.

So in previous posts you’ll catch me advocating various alternatives to books such as e-readers, audio books and even reading apps. All have had their place on our reading journey and I wouldn’t dismiss trying any of them.

However, today, I am advocating subtitles as an alternative to try. Films and series all tell a story and we can gain a lot from watching them in terms of ideas for our writing. If you add subtitles to them, you are also giving your child an opportunity to match the written words to the spoken ones and I can’t help but think this has got to be a good thing.

I invite you to give it a go for yourself.

Here is an episode of Peppa Pig with subtitles. I’ve chosen this because it is only around four minutes long and let’s face it, we all know and love Peppa Pig, don’t we? Watch it for yourself and see how you are drawn to the words, reinforced by what you can hear.

Let me know what you think.


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