My thoughts on that situation:
Sometimes it can be useful to remember how your child started reading. Was he/she self-motivated, starting to read because of deep curiosity and interest? Could your child suddenly read, learning it almost overnight? Or, did somebody sit down with the child, and teach him/her how to read step by step?
If children start reading fueled by their own interest, it is relatively easy to reawaken the joy of reading now. If, however, a child has learned to read in laborious work mode, perhaps even reading to the child now is arduous and exhausting. It is more difficult to raise self-initiative, and bring joy to reading, where there is a history of difficulty. In these cases, it is sometimes better not to pressure the child, who might need time for healing.
In fact, the natural and joyful way to learn reading is not connected to pressure but develops from self- initiative, often at age of three, four and five years. If the child’s natural rhythm is respected, one can expect another “reading boost,” at the age of ten and eleven years, when abstract thinking at a higher level is being developed.
Kindling, inspiring and evoking a genuine need and love for reading is the most effective and sustainable way to get children to read. Although it is controversial, or even problematic, however it is true that many children learn to read because they want to understand television programs.
A joint trip to the library can be very helpful; let your child pick out a book to check out at the desk.Take time to listen to the child reading. One could also record or film the child while reading.
Just think about everyday situations with your children, where can you write something, instead of saying or showing it. Perhaps write a shopping list together. Or a birthday card to a relative. One could label the objects of daily life, offer written instructions for crafting, or cooking recipes.
Along with reading, writing also leads to better language skills. Sometimes children like to write letters to mother, friends or vacation acquaintances. Together, parents and children could write a letter to a magazine, start a diary, or a photo album with descriptions. As a mother or father, how about writing stories, or a letter to the child … “I’ve written this especially for you.”
On the following picture, tiny objects all starting with ‘r’ were gathered (rabbit, rug, rose, etc.):
As in almost everything, I vote for inspiring a child, but not pushing too much. The “magic” power of self-motivation is, in fact, what creates the joy of reading. If reading is connected with too much resistance and negative emotions, then even forcing a child will not help much to improve reading skills. Sometimes children find the joy of reading again in adulthood, after the school years, when they can choose how much and how long they would like to read.
It might be a good idea to ask the child why they don’t like to read. Maybe they have eye problems. Maybe they think they should be an instant expert, and need to hear that it is a process. Maybe they need someone to sit with them and read with them, helping to sound out words, etc. Or they would just rather be doing something else right now. Try to find out what is going on in their mind. Try to make reading be a whole lot of fun. Anyone for Dr. Suess?
I am writing this with the hope that children receive a stronger voice in their learning processes, and that we as adults put more emphasis on the joy of learning.