My Child Hates Reading (But I’m Working On Him)

library, showing a bookcase with several library books and a table in the background

My second child turns 6 in just a few weeks. I can’t believe that he is almost 6. For reals. I can remember the exact second he was born, how it felt, what I was thinking….like a moment frozen in time.

I don’t recall it quite as well with my other two children.

It was like a thunderclap and then a pause in time as the shockwaves moved through the world.

He has spent the first few years of his short life living like a massive force to be reckoned with.

My son loves books.

boy walking away down school hallway

When I read them to him.

I know that he is actually a fairly decent reader, as evidenced by the work he does at school and what he does when I can get him to sound out words for me.

But when it is time to sit down with a book to read out loud….my son morphs into the hulk.

He throws things.


Becomes completely immune to all bribes that would normally work on him or any other normal child.

He sits on the book.

He throws the book.

He hides it.

He will even try to destroy it.

I find it mind boggling.

I understand that he is young to be reading books at a high level.

I get it.

I don’t want him to sit down and read for 30 minutes, 20 minutes, or for hours.

Just a few minutes. 10 max.

And I don’t force him, I don’t get intense, or annoyed, frustrated, or angry. I make sure to keep my voice calm, and my attitude positive. Even when he is acting like an out of control monster.

Today was a prime example of this behavior.

For the past few days, my son and I have been reading this kids book about Triceratops. This book has many words in it that I know he does know. The book is age appropriate, and many of the words in the book are straight from Fry’s first 100 sight word list. Many of the other words are words that could be easily sounded out.

For the past few days, I have somehow managed to find a way to get him to sit and read this book with me, learning all of the words that were new to him.

And tonight was the last night I was planning on reading this book, before moving on to another book with unfamiliar words.

But instead of reading with me tonight, he turned into the Hulk.

And something fun and enjoyable became this dramatic emotional event.


boy standing in a field wearing a shirt and cap

Yes, like I said above, I know that many kids aren’t ready to read at age 5. I know that the science indicates that its cool (or even better) if kids don’t actively engage in full on reading education until age 7 or later.

I am totally cool with my son struggling with reading, or not being good at it.

But here’s the thing. I know my son can read. He can obviously read better than he lets on.

But why won’t he sit and read with me, especially when I am happy and positive and more than willing to give him all the help he needs to get through the book?

I am wondering if he feels uncomfortable about his reading skills, and often feels this way at school when he is asked to read.

I am wondering if all of his feelings and discomforts build up, and then come out when they are finally connected up with reading out loud, again.

I am wondering if he feels like I am his safe harbor (because I am so calm and welcoming) and it gives him the opportunity to have his feelings that he couldn’t have at school.

I am wondering if his Hulk-like behavior has nothing to do with reading at all.

My son screamed at me tonight that he hates reading. That he hated books.

But the same boy then crawled up next to me and cuddled my side when I told him that I loved him, and it doesn’t matter to me how he felt about books.

The same boy then finally managed to get it in his head that he should read the book I wanted to read, and then got it done. And did it so well that he was actually quite happy and proud of himself.

(I was proud of him too).

If this were a society where it would be fine if my son didn’t read until he was 7, 8 or 9, I would just let him go. But if he doesn’t stay up with his class and their reading levels, he won’t be able to succeed in other aspects in the class, and will find himself subject to pull-outs and extra reading and instruction.

I have seen how this works with the older kids…while the rest of the class is done with reading and is on to music, art, and other non-reading subjects….the ones behind in reading are still working on reading, often with classroom volunteers or other specialists.

I can help my son stay on track with his class with just a few minutes of one-on-one instruction a few times a week, I think.

And my goal is make reading together a positive, enjoyable experience that we can both look forward to.

two boys sitting in the grass reading a book together

With my older son (who is 7), we can happily curl up in bed together and spend time reading our own books, with me occasionally helping him with a tough word.

I would love to have them both in bed with me, happily lost in their own worlds.

Reading should be a thing that we do for enjoyment, comfort, relaxation, bonding, in addition to learning.

So I’ll do everything I can to keep him on track, without turning into the She-Hulk myself when my son loses his mind.

Honestly, I think we are getting there….and I expect him to make some dramatic strides in confidence in the next six months or so, as he learns more words and gains some confidence.

How is your child/children doing with reading? Do you have a Hulk like I do?

Let me know in the comments below, and hang in there!

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