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How To Win Over Reluctant Readers: A Salariya Masterclass

Books – if you’re reading this post on this particular blog, chances are that you love them. But not everyone is so besotted.

Some people are not interested in reading. Some would need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to a book (don’t actually do this, it’s not very nice). These people are called reluctant readers, and there are plenty of them out there.  At a young age, there are many reasons why a child may decide that reading is not for them.

This is a big problem. A child that doesn’t read is much less likely to get along in life. Reading isn’t just a pleasurable pastime; it’s a technology, one of the oldest and most important, that each of us needs to get to grips with in order to communicate, learn and work. At The Salariya Book Company, we pride ourselves on using all of the tools at a publisher’s disposal to design new children’s books that will win over these reluctant readers. How do you address the problem? Well, as with everything, first you need to identify the cause:

If a child is reluctant to read because they’re put off or intimidated by the complexity of language in most books aimed at their age range, the solution is to simplify and reshape the text. For instance, our Graffex titles, graphic novel versions of Shakespeare’s plays and classic works of literature, use the original prose as a starting point, but retell the stories in contemporary English. They also feature explanations of any archaic or difficult words.

Our You Wouldn’t Want To Be and You Wouldn’t Want To Live Without series use simple, clear descriptions of their topics delivered in bite-sized paragraphs rather than dense blocks of text. They also break the text up into different forms, such as maps, timelines, fact boxes and annotated diagrams, to offer more variety and make the reading process feel much livelier.

If a child finds the act of reading boring, it’s no use complaining about ‘short attention spans’ – just make the topics more exciting! We always strive to frame our books around high-interest material that will engage children easily distracted by other media channels. In our science and history books, we pick topics that focus on the gory, gross or sensational. We also emphasise humour, believing that a child who’s laughing and enjoying herself is far more receptive to reading and learning. We also mix the text with lots of high-quality, dramatic or quirky illustrations, which always serve to make the books more inviting and appealing to children who are usually left cold by words on a page.

As is widely known, it is often boys who are the most reluctant readers. Many boys are not interested in reading unless they can see an immediate, practical ‘use’ in what they’re reading about, so the best way to win them over is by providing technology, science and information titles that explain the world to them. We always ensure that we include tips and simple experiment instructions in our You Wouldn’t Want To Live Without books alongside the main text, which give these practical-minded readers the opportunity to relate the book directly to the ‘real’ world and feel more actively engaged with it via the reading process.

We believe passionately in the importance of encouraging children to read. And we also believe equally passionately in not dismissing young reluctant readers as ‘write-offs’ (or, indeed, ‘read-offs’). Reluctant readers should be seen as a challenge and an opportunity to publishers, not a lost cause, and if enough innovation, invention and thought goes into the titles targeted at them, reluctant readers can be transformed into book worms too!

Graffex, You Wouldn’t Want To Be and You Wouldn’t Want To Live Without are published by Book House, an imprint of The Salariya Book Company.

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