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  • Writer's pictureGaila Cohen Morrison

Dear Gaila - How to get your reluctant student reading on his own

Dear Gaila,

One of my private tutoring students desperately needs to improve her reading skills, but is very disinterested in reading. It is too much of a chore for her. Prizes and enthusiastic praise works only so much. Any tips and ideas?

Tired Teacher

Dear Tired Teacher,

Rewards and praise are always good steps in encouraging students to work on challenging tasks, but can be exhausting and tedious. I recently came up with an idea that had my first grade student, Boaz, reading repetitiously of his own volition.

I prepared several quarter sheets of paper with a very simple story that used

the letters I wanted to repeat. (Pup, up, cup...) and several small copies of a clip art pup that I had found on free domain. (You can draw them yourself. I however am very grateful for google.)

Boaz read the story through. As he reread each page he pasted the pup pic either up or in a cup he drew, or on a cup, etc...

Boaz was very proud of the little booklet he created! He read each page as he illustrated it, and then twice more when we were done. He proudly showed it off when another adult passed by - and even read it once more.

His mother reported that he read that book many times at home. By having Boaz take part in creating the book, he felt an ownership and a need to share it with everyone. He wasn't even aware of the fact that he was doing what he previously found onerous - reading!

Good luck with your student,


Gaila has over 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns

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