Reading Hacks: How to Get Your Child Reading

Many parents will agree that raising keen readers is becoming an increasingly difficult task in the face of interactive digital entertainment and games.  
Reading Hacks: How to Get Your Child Reading
By Jenny Mollon
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During our long hot summers, reading is an ideal ‘quiet time’ occupation for children, but one for which some may need more encouraging for than others.  Reading is, without a doubt, more effort than screen time - both physically and mentally, but the rewards are many and great writes Agnes Holly!

Reading develops vocabulary, language and literacy skills, while improving concentration, curiosity and memory.  Across the globe, scientific research repeatedly confirms that reading is the single best foundation for a number of academic skills; reading is:

  • an excellent source of general knowledge
  • the best tool for developing and building imagination, not to mention literacy skills
  • useful at extending interpersonal social skills – exposing children to real life situations and challenges which they may not experience themselves
  • reading enhances cognitive skills in a unique way, while providing hours of entertainment
  • children who read regularly learn to spell with more accuracy and less effort

How then to encourage reluctant readers?  We have scoured bookshops, talked to teachers and librarians to compile this extensive list of books for the reluctant reader.  We’d love to hear your thoughts and book reviews over on facebook.

Some titles that may entertain those who find reading more of a challenge (we’ve included dyslexia friendly options):

Ali Standish:  The Ethan I was Before (400 pages)

Annie Dalton:  Friday Forever (84 pages – dyslexia friendly)

Daniel Kenney: The Maths Inspectors – Story One: The Claymore Diamond (164 pages)

David Almond: Harry Miller’s Run (64 pages)

David Almond: The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas (256 pages)

David Baddiel: The Boy Who Could Do What He Liked (128 pages)

Elisabeth Laird:  Oranges in No Man’s Land (128 pages)

Eoin Colfer: The Legend of the Worst Boy in the World (96 pages)

Eoin Colfer: The Seal’s Fate (96 pages – dyslexia friendly)

Erin Entrada Kelly: Hello Universe (320 pages)

Frank Cottrell Boyce: Desirable (104 pages – dyslexia friendly)

Jane A. C. West: Snowdogs (64 pages – dyslexia friendly)

Jenny Valentine: Finding Violet Park (208 pages)

Jerry Spinelli: Jake and Lily (352 pages – very easy to read)

Karen McCombie: The Girl with the Sunshine Smile (64 pages – dyslexia friendly)

Lynda Mullaly Hunt:  Fish in a Tree (320 pages)

Michael Morpurgo:  Who’s a Big Bully Then?  (64 pages – dyslexia friendly)

Michael Morpurgo: Born to Run

Michael Morpurgo: Flamingo Boy (288 pages)

Michael Morpurgo: Medal for Leroy (160 pages)

Michael Morpurgo: Toro Toro (128 pages)

Miriam Halahny: The Emergency Zoo (254 pages)

Roddy Doyle: Brilliant (256 pages)

Roddy Doyle: The Meanwhile Adventures (176 pages)

Roddy Doyle: Wilderness (224 pages)

Tom Rogers: Eleven (200 pages)

Still not reading?  Think: Audio Books

If turning your children into readers proves an impossible challenge, take heart. Do not underestimate the magic of LISTENING to a story.

While not exactly exposing children to the written word, many of the benefits of reading can still be gleaned – painlessly – by listening to an audio book. Children can gain enjoyment from following an exciting story-line, while being exposed to excellent expression and delivery – language enrichment in itself.

Listening in this way exercises their imagination, while giving them rich vocabulary and interesting content - in peace, with little effort.  This is also an excellent way to calm down a child who is wound up, or too active at some point in the day.

If you would like to have the added benefit of the written text, provide your child with a printed copy of the story.  (Ensure that both versions are the same – this works most reliably with full, unabridged versions of a book or story).

Audio books are a real gift – a cheat, if you like – for the reluctant reader. If all else fails, get them listening.  30 minutes a day, in the back of a car, or before going to sleep can do wonders!


Anthony Horowitx:  The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz can capture reluctant readers with fast-moving, thrilling story lines

Michael Morpiurgo: I Believe in Unicorns – an absolute gem, written and read by the author

Roald Dahl: anything at all!  Witty, clever books often with complex moral tales explained in a child friendly way

Stephen Fry: his reading of the Harry Potter books cannot be beaten as a choice for the older child or, indeed, adult. The wonderful characters, plots and colourful vocabulary imparts far more than just mere entertainment

When choosing audio books, a rule of thumb would be to pick titles that your children will NOT be able to read in print version. By giving them harder, more challenging books in this way, they have the pleasure of the plot and the characters without the struggle of reading.

Finally, no matter how poor you feel your own personal performance might be when reading aloud, there is a special closeness from sharing a book together. You can take turns reading with your child, or read the whole book aloud yourself. There is no age limit to this, and it certainly does not stop when children are able to read for themselves! Use these precious opportunities to spend time with your children, there are far too few of them these days.

Many hours of entertainment await you. Enjoy them!


Agnes Holly, BA English and German; MA Comparative Literature; Hornsby Dipl Special Educational Needs. Agnes has more than 25 years' teaching experience in various roles ranging from university to nursery teaching, in addition to on-going work bringing up 5 children

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