What if my child doesn't like reading?

We know that not all children read for pleasure - they might find it difficult or think that it's boring.

On this page, we share some top tips to help young people enjoy reading more, along with book recommendations and features from authors who were also reluctant readers growing up...

A boy and a girl laughing at Diary of a Wimpy Kid together

Research has shown that reading for pleasure can make a huge difference to children - not only academically (even in subjects like maths) but also socially and emotionally.

But what if your child or student doesn't enjoy reading? Whether they find it difficult or think it's boring, it's not always something young people are keen to do. But here are some things that could help...

  • Talk about books. Talking to children about books and stories can help them to realise how exciting they are. Show an interest in what they've read, ask questions about it, and swap opinions.
  • Make it fun! There are so many fun things you can do with books beyond reading them. Maybe you could ask your children to draw their favourite character or act out what they've read for you. Or perhaps you could try recreating some classic book covers and taking photos!
  • ... and try funny books. Everyone likes a good giggle! (If your child is brave, scary stories or gory horror might be worth a go too.)
  • Don't worry about what your children are reading. Whether it's a short story, poetry, a graphic novel, non-fiction, joke books, a comic or even the back of a cereal packet, it doesn't matter what your child is reading - as long as they're enjoying it! Anything could kickstart a love of books. (And don't panic if they read the same book over and over again, either.)

Children reading on a bed together

  • Give them the chance to choose. It's a great idea to give children the chance to choose what they read. Maybe you could take them to a bookshop and let them pick out something as a treat, or make regular library visits to help them figure out what they enjoy.
  • Enjoy books out loud! Why not read part of a book to your child, then leave it with them to explore further on their own? Children might enjoy listening to audiobooks, too – the combination of hearing the story out loud and holding the physical book could be a big help. Why not try listening to a story the next time you're in the car together? You could try one of these recommended audiobooks.
  • Find books related to their interests. If your child is a gamer, why not try choose-your-own-adventure books, Minecraft guides or stories about virtual reality? If they like sport, you could try one of Kwame Alexander's verse novels or a biography of their favourite football player. If a book is about something they already love, it could be a brilliant way to get them hooked. Or perhaps their favourite film is based on a book - you could enjoy the story together and talk about how the movie and the original story are different.
  • Try series fiction. If your child loves the first Harry Potter book, there are six more stories for them to dive into! There are some wonderful series out there that have converted reluctant readers into bookworms - you could try the Tom Gates books by Liz Pichon or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. And when they've read them all, check out our What to Read After section for top tips about other titles they might enjoy!

Check out some more top tips from Waterstones Children's Laureate and How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell:

Books you might like to try

We've picked out some recommendations of great books that even children who don't normally like reading might enjoy. Why not try one of these?

Books for reluctant readers (younger children)

There's a book out there for every child, even the most reluctant of readers. Try a few of the books below to see if they click with your child and help them love reading.

Books for reluctant readers (older children)

There's a book out there for every child, even the most reluctant of readers. There's fiction, non-fiction, rhyme and laugh-out-loud moments! Let us know which one works for your 9-12 year old.

Books for reluctant readers (12+)

There's a book out there for every teenager, even the most reluctant of readers. Try a few of the books below to see if they click with your teenager and help them love reading.

Top tips from authors


BookTrust HomeTime

Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.

Go to the HomeTime hub