Why Do Children Stop Reading?

Without a doubt, the number one complaint from parents regarding English is that their child does not read at home anymore. There is a magic light that goes off in a student’s head when they reach about grade 7 that makes them suddenly hate reading. Parents hate this. Teachers hate this. Students don’t seem to care. Why does this happen and can it be fixed? The answer is yes!

The Link Between Reading And Spelling

Learn to read

The other thing you hear from parents is that their children are terrible spellers. The quality of spelling in children is decreasing rapidly. Why? Well it is connected to the fact that they aren’t reading enough! See the link. The lack of range in children’s vocabulary is also decreasing and again this is due to lack of reading. If a child has never seen a word before, how do they know what is means or in what context it should be used? Can these problems be fixed? The answer is also yes!


To uncover why all this occurs and how it can be changed, you have to go back in a child’s life to when they were little. Many children learned to read through the phonic approach, which starts with the sounds of the alphabet. They learn how each letter sounds and then discover these letters together in syllables and words. Over time their reading increases and they are exposed to more and more words. These words form a dictionary-like booklet in their head and it is from this booklet that they take the words to use in their oral presentations and writing.


In primary school we make our children read. Many schools have the reader system in operation where the child must take a book home each week and read it nightly with or to a parent, who then signs off upon completion. Depending on the school, this stops about grade 5 or 6 when the assumption is made that the child is now an independent reader. That is they will actively seek out and read material of their choice. However, this assumption fails to consider the future impacts on their reading motivations and time that the modern world now imposes.


When the average grade 7 child gets home from school, they have to fit the following things into their night before they go to bed: eat dinner, watch television, listen to radio/music, do homework, check email, text/talk on mobile phone, chat on messenger, surf the internet, update MySpace/Facebook/Twitter page etc etc etc. All this social activity takes time and the thing that suffers the most is reading. Where a child would once go to bed and read, now they are so tired from all this activity, they have no time to read and fall into bed exhausted every night.


So what is the solution? Well, put simply at Queensland Tutors we encourage the following:

  • Reading a magazine or newspaper is better than not reading at all
  • The best spellers are the children who still actively read everyday
  • Don’t rely on the spell checker of the computer. There are jobs where you still have to write things down!
  • You can’t learn how to spell every word. Look, cover, write and check is still the best way to self-teach spelling.
  • Vocabulary range comes from exposure to new words all the time eg. reading
  • Times have changed. Kids are just not as interested in the literary classics as their parents once were. Forcing them to read something they can’t relate to only makes the problem worse.


Contact us for suggestions and strategies on how to get your child reading again. It can be done!