12 Engaging Solutions for Struggling Readers

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Overcoming challenges

In this blog, we will discuss different tips, suggestions, and reading solutions for struggling readers.

Reading Solutions for Struggling Readers

Why Need to Find Solutions for Struggling Readers

There is no doubt that students need reading for academic success. There are plenty of studies that show the dangers of low literacy rates and a whole slew of problems. By 4th grade, we can already see the trajectory. By 7th grade, students with lower literacy struggle in school.

Fun fact, this year I only had NINE students out of 140 students reading at seventh grade level. That’s 6%. Many were reading 3 or more levels below grade level. Those are critical numbers. I had to find solutions for struggling readers in my classes. That led me on this journey.

I hope everyone understands, students don’t just struggle in English, they struggle in Math and Science, too. Students with low literacy struggle to switch between language registers and therefore have problems digesting complex reading material. Another fun fact, only THREE students from the same group of 140 students began the year at grade level. That’s 2%!

So what can we do about it? I’ve taught children of all ages to read. These are my 12 engaging solutions for struggling readers.

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Engaging Older Kids in Reading

Now that I teach high school, I find it challenging to get students to read. By the time students reach me, they’ve decided they hate reading and have zero interest in changing their minds! I absolutely needed high-interest solutions for struggling readers.

I have a strong collection of books curated to the very specific needs and interests of my students. Engaging literature is a MUST!

  • Find books that are accessible for older children: That might books geared towards a slightly younger audience. However, I’ve noticed students can tell quickly if you’re giving them a book that’s geared towards a younger audience. That may make them hesitant. That’s why I suggest manga. I’ve read Maus I & II and March with students. They’re a great way to introduce difficult topics to struggling and non-struggling readers.
  • Create reading challenges: They can make a significant difference in fostering a love for reading and improving literacy skills.

Engaging literature tailored to the individual needs of struggling readers can significantly impact their motivation and confidence.

The Impact of Reading Difficulties

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Overcoming challenges

Challenges Faced by Struggling Readers

Children facing reading obstacles often encounter challenges such as difficulty in understanding the text they read. This can lead to frustration and a lack of motivation to continue reading. It can also lead to a struggle later in life. Medical documents, legal documents, and business English are necessary parts of our lives and students struggling now will have a much more difficult time as adults.

Effects on Academic Performance

For struggling readers, their reading difficulties can have a significant impact on their academic performance. Slow reading pace and comprehension issues can lead to lower grades, increased frustration, and disengagement from the learning process.

Engaging Reading Solutions

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Scrabble!

Improving Vocabulary is one of the solutions for Struggling Readers

Solutions for struggling readers play a crucial role in improving the literacy skills. By providing captivating literature that is tailored to students’ individual needs, kids facing reading challenges can enhance their vocabulary, comprehension, and overall reading proficiency. This improvement in literacy skills not only supports their academic performance but also boosts their confidence in tackling more complex texts.

Vocabulary solutions for struggling readers: Students with adults who do not speak English natively, students with adults who may not use advanced vocabulary, ELD students, and many other students struggle with vocabulary.

1. Scrabble: One of my favorite solutions for struggling readers is Scrabble! I have my students play short games of scrabble with each other when we have time. This is a great way for students to share new words they’ve learned in school. It also improves spelling! If you cannot afford to buy several copies of the game yourself, print out copies of the alphabet and make your own! I will have a template soon!

2. Jeopardy: I use ChatGPT for this one. I ask “Please give me 25 x questions.” Then I review the questions, assign a point value, and put it on the board. Students are assigned teams and we have a lot of fun. You can play this game before tests or as a reward. Tip: I add in a fun category so everyone has the chance to answer something.

This is one of those games I keep ready. It’s definitely one of my favorite solutions for struggling readers. Students can make inferences in short passages, sketch out a scene they’ve read, or find literary devices. There are endless solutions for struggling readers – and you can focus on the specific needs of your classroom!

3. Graphic Organizers: I know many of us know about these already. Did you know, you can assign students a graphic organizer in a Google Sheet and when they’re done you can upload their work into a Kahoot or Blooket? Then students can use their own images, definitions, and sentences for the game. The kids love when we play games that way. I am working on a template for your Google Sheets.

4. Reading Journals: I love reading journals. I use them in my classes and I use them myself. I forget things quickly, so I love having a journal next to me so I can jot down ideas and thoughts. I use reading journals as one of my solutions for struggling readers because I can see what students are thinking about when I read their journals. I can also give quiet feedback on their responses. Many more students are open to communicating this way.

Enhancing Imagination and Knowledge

Solutions for Struggling Readers: UDL

Accessible and engaging books have the power to expand the imagination and knowledge of older kids with reading challenges. Compelling reading materials can transport struggling readers to different worlds, cultures, and time periods, broadening their understanding of the world around them.

Through captivating literature, these readers can explore new ideas, perspectives, and experiences, fostering a love for learning that extends beyond the pages of a book.

5. UDL – Universal Design for Learning: I do love UDL for teaching new ideas. I have many non-native English speakers in my classes. I also have many students I suspect may have undiagnosed comprehension and reading issues. I look to UDL methodology all the time to find solutions for struggling readers.

I often use videos, pictures, and other hands-on resources for students. UDL offers many solutions for struggling readers with it’s focus on varied methods of instruction. I find showing a video to begin a topic really helps students understand the main points of a subject quicker. It also allows them to engage in conversation about the topic.

Choosing the Right Books

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Choosing the right books

6. One of the solutions for struggling readers is: Selecting Appropriate Literature

When choosing books for older kids who are struggling readers, it’s crucial to tailor the selection to their individual needs. This involves considering their specific reading levels and interests to ensure that the material is engaging and accessible.

By identifying books that align with their abilities and captivate their interests, we can enhance their overall reading experience and foster a positive attitude towards literature. They need to read things they are interested in – at least at first. It is easier to teach the more difficult content if they have a solid foundation in reading.

7. “Teach me a Lesson”

This is one of my favorite lessons to throw into my tool kit of solutions for struggling readers. Ask students about their hobbies, interests, and curiosities. I always ask what students are curious about. They often have random topics like the history of t-shirts (that is a real one!). That’s when I have students complete the “Teach me a lesson” lesson. I will post these soon, but it’s basically a slide deck for students to complete.

Students need to research a topic, include references, a video, and a short reading assignment. If they complete the topic well, I may decide to use one of their lessons in the class. They will receive one extra point if I use it. I also sometimes give students the option of presenting their lesson to the class themselves. It’s really fun to watch them present. They are so creative!

Supportive Reading Tools

Supportive reading tools are one of the solutions for struggling readers.

8. Audio books, for example, can provide an alternative way for these kids to access stories and information, especially if they struggle with traditional text-based materials. Coming out of Covid, I’ve noticed many students struggle with their listening skills. They also have trouble remembering information. I use audiobooks to help students enhance their listening skills. Audiobooks help a lot with this! I also used them for listening practice for ELPAC!

Story time after lunch, short stories as a reward for excellence, or to enjoy an easy Friday, is a great way to incorporate more audio into your lesson. It’s also not a movie, so admin doesn’t usually get angry! Ha!

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Audiobooks!

9. Visual aids such as illustrations and diagrams can also complement the text, offering additional support in understanding the content. These tools offer solutions for struggling readers because they make reading more enjoyable and help struggling readers overcome comprehension challenges.

10. Whenever possible, I ask students to draw out parts of a story. Maybe we are creating a story board for our own stories or mapping out stories we are reading in class, but art is an important part of our classroom. I used art a lot in Japan when kids were reading and writing. It helps students to reinforce information. Diagrams and charts help students retain information, when used in context.

Using visual aids always proves to be one of the best solutions for struggling readers.

11. Comic Books & Manga: I know I mentioned this above but I think it needs its own heading. There are so many different types of manga – one for every genre. If you have students struggling with reading, find out their interests and give them a comic book or manga to read.

I keep a curated selection in my classroom. Students check them out all the time. I offer one point per book they read. They write a brief summary of the chapter they read and viola! No pulling teeth! And, I catch them reading in class. Ha! I sometimes pretend I don’t notice them doing it. 🙂

Empowering Older Kids Through Reading

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Manga!

12. Building Confidence and Motivation

One of the long-term solutions for struggling readers is to build confidence. Empowering kids who are struggling readers through the provision of engaging and accessible books can significantly contribute to building their confidence and motivation to continue reading. This is no small task or a quick solution. Students need to trust you and you need to prove to them that you are there for them.

But, building confidence in children is essential in helping them read better. When these children find literature that resonates with them and aligns with their reading abilities, it instills a sense of accomplishment, boosting their self-assurance in their reading skills.

Boost confidence with compliments. Compliments should be directed at a skill or action, like they completed an assignment on time or worked hard to understand an unknown word. Give compliments often. If you know a reader is struggling, be light on the critique. Fix the largest errors but emphasize the good. This is one of the greatest solutions for struggling readers – and the one that will help their overall well-being.

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Give compliments!

Motivation: As students experience success in navigating through stories and information that captivate their interests, their motivation to explore more literature grows, fostering a positive attitude towards reading. In a time when English class is all about data and numbers, it is our job to instill a love of reading so they become better readers. It is only then they will test better.

Fostering a Love for Reading

By offering older kids facing reading challenges accessible and captivating reading materials, we have the opportunity to foster a genuine love for reading within them. When struggling readers discover books that cater to their individual needs and ignite their imagination, it opens the door to a world of literary enjoyment. The joy and fulfillment derived from these tailored literary experiences can cultivate a deep appreciation for the written word, laying the foundation for a lifelong love of reading.

Empowering Kids Through Reading

Solutions for Struggling Readers: Build Confidence!

Offering accessible literature for struggling kids can truly transform their reading journey. Engaging reading materials for kids with reading challenges open the door to a world of literary enjoyment, fostering a genuine love for reading within them. By providing easy books for kids who are struggling readers, we empower them to overcome their difficulties and develop a lifelong passion for reading.

Accessible and engaging books have the power to ignite a love for reading in kids facing challenges, setting them on a path of literary enjoyment and academic success.

If you’re in need of coaching, please check out my new coaching page! I coach & mentor teachers and parents, and I’d love to help you!
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I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

6 thoughts on “12 Engaging Solutions for Struggling Readers

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    4 April 2024 at 12:15

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  • Katy Trott
    5 April 2024 at 16:47

    Some great ideas here! Thankfully my kids are capable readers but have become reluctant readers since becoming teens!

  • Fransic verso
    5 April 2024 at 17:18

    I don’t think I have reading difficulties but this is very informative and helpful. You shared great solutions to help with that.

  • Janet
    6 April 2024 at 11:15

    Wonderful ideas which are helpful to parents AND grandparents. Confidence and motivation make a world of difference as well as books that fit their interests. This post contains great insight and lots of great info. Thanks!

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