Reluctant readers

Gill Othen gill at
Thu Feb 5 11:45:35 EST 2004

Minnow wrote:>

> I'm ignorant.  I had never met the phrase "reluctant readers".  It made me
> stop, gawp, giggle, and then think "and how about the reluctant in any
> other field?"  Do for instance reluctant gymnasts get special care taken
> them, or do they just get told to vault that horse. climb that rope, and
> blazes with their tender sensibilities?  How about the kids who are
> reluctant about adding and subtraction, or who are inclined to be a bit
> unenthusiastic about geography?  The ones who stand on the edge of the
> swimming-pool but just don't fancy getting their hair wet?
> (And what about the ones who aren't just reluctant, they're downright
> pigheaded and utterly refuse to consider reading at all....)
> Sorry.  It's just the phrase. I'll get over it.  But what *does* it mean
> really?  That they can't, that they won't, that they just can't see the
> point of it at all, or what?

The way we use it in English teaching tends to describe the kids who have a
basic grasp of reading but have absolutely no interest in doing more than
they are forced to do. Many therefore don't develop higher level reading
skills and struggle in school later on. The trouble is that you learn to
read better by reading more, and no amount of time in the classroom plodding
through a "reading book" (as if there was any other kind!) can compensate
for doing no reading at any other time. A child who reads a lot will read
more efficiently and develop more skills more quickly.

I teach at a selective school and even there we have kids - mostly boys -
who avoid all non-compulsory reading. The parents even make excuses "He just
doesn't have the time." they say - after all, computer games and sports are
so much more important.

Reading takes effort and doesn't give such immediate gratification as shoot
'n kill computer games. So lots of kids avoid it.

Gill (Delurking again, at last)

To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list