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Helping Challenged Readers Choose a Book

written by: Pauline H. Gill • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 9/11/2012

High school students who are challenged readers are the hardest students to help improve reading skills. You must tap into their interests and discover what makes them come alive. Then, you can help them find reading material that is suitable for their ability.

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    Reading Inventory and the Interview

    Reading inventories are used for a variety of reasons. The teacher needs to know how much reading a student does, what they like to read, and what their interests are. Reading inventories can be a jumpstart for the teacher who needs to probe into the minds of the challenged reader. You know they don't read often. How can you get them to read more? Design the reading inventory so it gives you background on the student's interests. You goal is to find what makes them come alive, so you can help them choose appropriate books. Keep the inventory short. Remember, you are dealing with reluctant readers.

    Interview your challenged reader. Ask them to talk about their hobbies and interests. Ask them to tell you what they do after school. Students love to talk about themselves and it's through these conversations that you will learn what they enjoy. It could be that the student loves to babysit or play video games. Ask the questions and record the answers. Show an interest in the student and they will tell you everything.

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    The Quick Reading Test

    Now that you know the student's interests, it's time to get an idea where they are as far as reading ability. This doesn't need to be a long assessment. A quick word list such as the Slosson's Reading Inventory will give you a good idea of the reading level. It will also tell you about the student's word attack skills and how easy they give up when they don't know a word. The Slosson only takes about fifteen minutes to give and can tell you more than any longer test. If you don't have a Slosson's Reading Inventory, use books. Pick out three or four books at different reading levels. Adolescent novels should have the reading level on the inside cover. Have the student read a paragraph or two from the book. If they stumble over more than five words, the book is too difficult.

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    Picking a Book

    Go with them to the library and steer them to books that may interest them based on their reading inventory. Don't just look at fiction. Reluctant readers enjoy factual books with pictures. Even if the reading may be slightly challenging, the pictures help. Boys often like books about cars, motorcycles, or sport figures. Look for biographies and other nonfiction. Girls like romance. Usually you can find a series of books about teenage girls. If your librarian has not stocked the library with low reading level adolescent books, ask him/her to purchase some.

    Show them how to check out a book. Reluctant readers may not know how to do this. Now they have a book, and it may be the first book they have ever read.

Helping the Challenged Reader

Can you imagine being fifteen and reading at the third grade level? Many special education children are challenged readers because of learning disabilities or mental handicaps. You can help them find a love of reading by discovering their interests, knowing their reading level, and guiding them.
  1. Helping Challenged Readers Choose a Book
  2. Partner Books
  3. The Graphic Novel: A Reluctant Reader's Success