How to Help a Child Who Keeps Quitting Books

It can be so frustrating when your child keeps quitting books.

They read a few pages or a chapter or two and then never want to keep going.

As you may already know, I’m a HUGE fan of letting kids (and adults!) quit books that aren’t working for them – I have a whole post about why you should let them quit here, but often in the case of a child who is quitting nearly every book they start, the problem isn’t that they just don’t like any of the books they’re trying.

More likely, the issue is that they are having a hard time getting IN to a book.

This is a very common issue because getting into a new book is HARD WORK.

You have to adjust to an entirely new setting, a new cast of characters, a new plot, and sometimes a whole new set of terms and vocabulary.

That’s not easy stuff and you can see why a child would get discouraged after a few pages or chapters.

Here are some ways to help a child that is running into this book quitting issue:

quitting books

How to Help a Child Who Keeps Quitting Books

  1. Give them a solid overview of the book before they start. Think of this like a movie trailer – give them a little peek at who the main characters are, the exciting things that are going to happen in the plot, and what they can expect and look forward to. Some readers love to go into a book completely cold with no clue what’s going to happen, but most readers do better when they have a little bit of a road map for what to expect.
  2. Read the first few chapters aloud to them. Even as a lifelong reader, I struggle with the first chapter or two of most books. It’s just hard to get oriented to a new story, just like it takes a minute to get oriented in a new city or school. By reading aloud the first few chapters to them, you give them a running start into the rest of the book that they’ll be more able to finish on their own.
  3. Listen to an audiobook version. Similarly, many young readers are much more able to listen to a book than they are to read it on their own. You can listen to the first few chapters together or solo as they play with LEGO sets or you drive to school or as they go to bed.
  4. Read or listen to the first book in a series together. One reason kids (and adults!) love series so much is that after the first book, its way easier to get into the next book in the series because you already know the characters and the landscape and you don’t have to start from scratch. Then once you’ve read or listened to the first installment together, they’ll probably be much more able to go into the second (and third and fourth!) book solo.
  5. Try a different genre or format. Every reader has their own preferences so you may love certain books from your own childhood but they fall flat for your child. Try a graphic novel or a fantasy title or a non-fiction series – part of learning to be a reader is figuring out what YOU like and childhood is a great time to explore different genres and formats and see what works for you as a reader.
  6. Watch a movie version first. I know lots of people like to hold the movie version as a reward for finishing the book version, but if your child is struggling with the reading part, it might be helpful to watch the movie version FIRST. Then they’ll know what to expect, who the characters are AND they’ll get the delight of comparing the book and movie and deciding which one is better.

Any other suggestions for helping a child who keeps quitting books? I’d love to hear!

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