Some books are boring. There it’s been said. Not all books are worth reading. We know this, as adults we have come across books that we just didn’t like, books we had to force ourselves to finish and books we just couldn’t face finishing at all.
The last book I really couldn’t finish was a book written as a comedy diary about a horse. Unfortunately the “comedy” seemed to be about 50% taking cheap pot shots at gay people. Everything the author didn’t like was “gay” and characters portrayed in a negative light were “great poof balls”. I stopped reading, I couldn’t take the small-mindedness for anymore than two chapters. I was heartily disappointed as the book had been highly recommended. I have also stopped reading a small number of books because they were just too boring. Among them some critically acclaimed titles. Why did I stop reading? Life is just too short to waste time on a book you don’t like when you could be reading one of the many thousands of amazing books out there I have yet to discover.
Children often have the erroneous idea that they absolutely must finish every book that they start. If they happen to pick up a number of books that don’t hold their interest this can quickly result in a child not wanting to read anything very much any more. Why would we want children to feel they must finish every book when we know as adults that this simply isn’t the case? So how can we tackle this issue?
Firstly – tell them they don’t have to finish! This is a simple and much overlooked strategy. If a child says their reading book is boring don’t look stern and tell them they have to finish anyway. Instead help them choose a new one. This applies to teachers as much as parents. There are some books an older child may have to finish for coursework/class work but these are few and far between and often read in class as much as at home. Reading books are meant to be pleasurable. Forcing a child to finish a book they find boring, or allowing them to think they have to finish it before they move on, removes that pleasure.
Help them choose books they are going to like. Some children will just pick any book they come to from the bookshelf at home, at school or at the library or a bookshop. Get them to think about the things they are interested in and choose books accordingly. There are hundreds of books for pony mad children, tractor mad children, children that love football, children who love ballet dancing, street dancing, cooking, mysteries and just about every other hobby and interest you can think of. Picking something that appeals to their interest greatly reduces the chances that they will find the book boring. Also make sure to get them to pick something they can read easily if it is intended to be read alone. Use time spent reading together to stretch them and let them read something they are advanced enough to enjoy without struggling when reading by themselves.
Reluctant readers are more likely to pick up a book if they know they can decide to put it down if it is too difficult or they find it boring. This is the goal – a child that wants to pick up a book. Get there any way you can!