Effective Strategies to Support Struggling Readers

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Reading is crucial for success, both inside and outside the classroom. Failing to develop reading skills by the third grade can result in decreased academic performance, higher chances of dropping out of school, and increased involvement in the criminal justice system. In adulthood, literacy impacts education, employment opportunities, and long-term success.


It’s clear that reading is essential for everyone, extending beyond those who naturally enjoy it. Timely interventions are key to helping struggling and reluctant readers actively participate in reading and have the same opportunities and achievements as their peers. No matter where students are in their reading journey, Beanstack helps all readers succeed and develop a love of reading.

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What Is a Struggling or Reluctant Reader?

Struggling readers encompass diverse students facing challenges such as low achievement, unidentified reading difficulties, dyslexia, speech and language disabilities, or any other reading and learning disabilities.


A reluctant reader is, quite simply, any student uninterested in reading. These students may actively resist reading, mask their dislike by clowning around or misbehaving when asked to read, become easily frustrated during reading, or need to be coaxed into picking up a book.


Before discussing ways to engage struggling and reluctant readers better, it’s important to understand the factors that can contribute to a child’s reluctance to read.


What Causes Students to Struggle With Reading?

There are various reasons why kids may be disinterested or need encouragement in reading. Every child has their own needs, interests, and wants when it comes to literacy. Building a positive relationship with reading is not a one-size-fits-all approach.


Sitting Still Is Too Hard

Sitting down and diving into a good book requires a certain amount of stillness that can be difficult for many children, especially those who are used to being highly active. For high-energy students, taking frequent breaks that allow them to stretch their legs and move around may be beneficial. A more interactive and movement-based approach to reading will make it feel more fun and less tedious. If you have space to move around, try incorporating physical exercises with reading activities like a relay race or obstacle course.


Reading Is Too Challenging

Children often don’t want to read because they think it’s too difficult. Pressure to keep up with their peers and constant encounters with books that are too difficult only further discourage students from wanting to read. Ensure children have access to books on topics that interest them so they’re challenged at their own pace.


Another factor that can make reading difficult for children is an accessibility issue like eyesight or a learning disability. Children need reading materials in the right format to meet their individual needs. Tools like audiobooks, ebooks, large print, or an intervention like eyeglasses can impact how well a child can engage in reading.


Not Interactive Enough

Kids today are accustomed to constant social interaction, either virtually on social media, in person with their friends, or by messaging through another digital platform. Nurturing a culture of reading in your community and incorporating social activities like challenges and competitions can make reading something students will look forward to. Competing for badges and streaks will help keep students accountable and encourage participation without pressuring struggling readers to keep up with the reading levels of their peers.


Long-Term Impacts for Kids Who Avoid Reading

Developing a healthy relationship with reading has benefits that extend far beyond the classroom. Struggles with literacy can affect students well into adulthood and result in issues including: 

  • Language deficiency: Limited exposure to written language can lead to challenges in vocabulary, grammar, and language comprehension, which can impact communication, academic achievement, and career advancement.
  • Educational challenges: Reading is crucial for academic success, as students who struggle may face difficulties in learning and are at risk of academic setbacks, which can impact their chances of pursuing higher education.
  • Psychological effects: Struggling with reading can lead to higher chances of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, especially for individuals with literacy challenges. Research shows that women with low literacy skills are five times more likely to experience depression compared to those with higher literacy levels.

Building strong reading habits in childhood can have a lifelong impact. In addition to academic success, reading contributes to expanding a reader’s worldview and introduces them to new perspectives, people, and cultures. Long-term implications of reading include social and emotional development and academic achievement. Equipping struggling and reluctant readers with the right tools and strategies to improve literacy at a young age helps to develop the skills necessary to live a happy and successful life.

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Five Ways Beanstack Engages Struggling Readers

Beanstack meets all readers where they’re at, including struggling and reluctant readers. By encouraging a positive relationship with reading, Beanstack helps students develop intrinsic motivation to keep them reading in the future. Making reading a fun activity ensures that students continue to drive their learning inside and outside the classroom.


Makes Reading Fun

One of the most effective ways to engage readers is to make reading fun! Encouraging students to read for fun benefits everyone, from reluctant readers to readers who already enjoy it.


Independent reading improves academic outcomes and boosts performance across many areas. It helps children develop a positive association with reading, so they think of it as something fun they want to do rather than a chore they have to do. A positive attitude and mindset are powerful drivers of student success.


One way Beanstack makes reading fun for all readers is through gamification. Our interactive platform rewards and reinforces independent reading habits without restrictive levels or stressful quizzes. Our gamification software uses positive reinforcement to transform readers’ extrinsic motivation into intrinsic motivation. True reading engagement and sustained student motivation work toward developing a lifelong love of reading.


Emphasizes Self-Selection

Giving students the power of choice involves them in their learning process and increases motivation. If students can choose what to read in the classroom, it shows them that their opinions matter and that their voices are being heard. Students are more likely to become excited about reading by choosing topics and stories that interest them.


In addition to titles, students may also choose what format they want to read in. Graphic novels, large print, audio, and ebooks are all valid forms of reading that students can engage with alongside their peers. Beanstack’s reading and book tracker can track these formats. Logging sessions is a quick and easy way to develop strong reading habits for readers at all levels.


Treats Reading as a Social Activity

Adding a social element to reading encourages students to read differently. Bringing students together in small book groups naturally generates conversation and participation that engages readers. Students can write reviews and see what other kids read on Beanstack to keep them active and engaged. As Robstown Independent School District in Texas found, writing reviews also helps students develop and display their reading comprehension skills. 


Participating in Beanstack’s custom reading challenges is a great way to build a community around reading and motivate students with badges and prizes. Making reading a social activity incentivizes students to continue reading when school isn’t in session. The average Beanstack summer reading participant logs more than 10 hours of reading per reading challenge!


Incorporates Activities

Admins on Beanstack can create badges that students can earn and tie to activities. Competitions and incentives customized for students’ unique needs and abilities are great for engaging struggling and reluctant readers.


Beanstack brings the fun back to reading by encouraging free choice reading without quizzes. Students can pick their books, build a diverse reading log, and grow reading streaks as they hit big reading goals. By focusing on reading effort instead of points, students don’t feel pressured to keep up with their peers and can have more fun with less pressure.

Extends Support Beyond the Classroom

Even if reading instruction occurs at school, literacy continues to impact the world outside the classroom. Parents and caregivers must encourage reading at home and continue cultivating a positive relationship with reading. Parents can use Beanstack as a powerful tool to support struggling and reluctant readers at home.


Beanstack’s mobile app helps students track their reading achievements at home, in between activities, before sports practices, or whatever works best for every family’s busy schedule. Parents can foster a love of reading by having a positive dialogue about their kids’ reading achievements and discussing the books in their reading logs.


If their local library uses Beanstack, parents can model positive reading behavior by logging their reading and joining reading challenges. Participating in reading culture in your community shows how reading can be a fun, social activity for readers of all ages and levels.


Schedule a Demo Today

Reading skills are essential to student success at every level. It’s crucial to equip struggling and reluctant readers with the tools, strategies, and support they need to participate in reading alongside their peers without the stress of level tests. Beanstack helps students form good habits and a positive attitude toward reading, supporting them in developing skills for lifelong success.

Ready to support the struggling and reluctant readers in your life with a reading platform that makes reading fun for all? Contact our team to schedule a demo or request a quote to bring Beanstack to your community.

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