Thank you for speaking with us when we ran into you last week. You had
great suggestions! Here’s the next problem with the kids: my son Drew
always says he, “doesn’t like to read the books he brings home”, he says,
“books are boring”, and, “school is boring”. I have tried to force him to read,
and buy books for him all the time! I have tried to make him read the
dictionary…I do not know what to do, but I’m pulling out my hair with this
kid. He’s being difficult!
Dear Drew’s Mom,
It was great meeting your family. I’m always happy to suggest ways to help
kids and teens be their best (and help parents not pull out their hair, haha).
Many parents complain that their children don’t want to read. The majority
of these kids have an underlying reading gap that has been missed as
they’ve progressed through the grades. Before I get to that, let’s talk about
how to support your kids, and nudge them to read anyway.
Preschool / Developing Readers and Struggling Readers:
I am going to introduce a strategy called ‘Taking a Picture Walk’. This will
help your child experience quite a bit about a book before they ever read a
word. A picture walk introduces the story as their mind begins to pull up
what it knows on the subject, supporting your child. Your child will have
exposure to new words they may not know but will encounter throughout
The Book Cover:
• Use only the pictures
• The cover will likely hold many clues to the story – so start here
• Characters faces will tell a story
• The setting will give your child clues about the plot
• Here is your opportunity to build interest in the book
• A frequent and thoughtful interpretation of facial expressions will help
strengthen your child’s emotional intelligence
• Ask your child what the character is thinking and feeling
Turn to the first page, ask your child:
• What’s happening?
• Where are the characters?
• What are the characters doing?
• What is their problem?
• What is the characters’ feeling?
So many clues are offered in the pictures, asking leading questions helps
your child develops this reading strategy.
Page two and beyond:
• Ask your child to read each page to you using the pictures only
Close the book, ask your child:
• Who are the characters?
• What problems are the characters facing?
• What are the characters doing?
• How do they solve their problem?
• What happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story?
Now, read the story together. Taking that Picture Walk supported your
child in learning many of the story elements. As you continue reading
together, support your child by filling in the words they don’t know. All of
the above are reading strategies and skills your children will encounter in
Picture Walks are a fantastic way to introduce many books to young and
struggling readers. This is one of the ways to help your child develop a
love of learning. In turn, your child will want to go back for more books,
because reading isn’t so painful now, it’s fun! My favorite classroom poster
says it best, reading takes you places to meet new faces.
Elementary and Middle Schoolers:
When visiting the library your child is tasked with choosing a book to
borrow and read independently. Helping your child to choose a book they
can actually read and understand will allow them to build comprehension,
The Five Finger Test (helping your child select books at their
independent reading level):
Once your child selects a book that looks interesting, direct them to turn to
the first page or to the back cover. Have your child hold up one finger for
each word they don’t know or can’t pronounce. Once they’re holding up
three fingers, it may be time to put the book back on the shelf. Five fingers
says it will be too difficult for now.
When your child says they don’t like to read, or they tell you it’s boring, it
may be the time to read between the lines. An underlying reading struggle
may be causing an uneasy feeling. This can contribute to making your
child feel like success is not within reach. Adults don’t like to struggle, and
neither do children. Don’t make the common mistake of mislabeling a
learning problem as a behavior problem.
What to do:
Find a reading specialist who can assess your child in phonics, phonemic
awareness, spelling stage, sight word recognition, and comprehension. Let
the specialist find the gaps and begin to fill them, allowing your child to
take steps forward – no longer avoiding reading, but succeed!
Allison Dankner, M.S.ED, PSY.B.S. can be reached for assessment, private
instruction, and sessions specializing in building reading skills/strategies,
self-regulation, and focus. Ms. Dankner also offers coaching packages to
support parents, kids, and teens.
Allison Dankner, M.S.Ed, PSY. B.S.
Learning and Reading Specialist
Family Behavior Coach