Solution for Struggling Young Readers

Understanding Struggling Readers

~ Large portions of struggling readers actually have a powerful imagination. Their minds quickly wander as they attempt to read books. (Examples are musicians, artists, and yes…young writers.)

~ For others it can be a combination of several problems: motivation, confidence, patience, understanding the purpose of reading, and eventually negative thoughts whenever reading is mentioned.

~ The more a student is singled out, diagnosed, tested, tutored, evaluated, and personal time is taken away to urge them to read, the more that student will rebel against reading.

~ There is a need for books that both struggling and advanced students can enjoy together. (And discuss together.)


~ Create books that will keep an imaginative mind interested.

~ Offer books that build reading motivation, reading confidence, and give the reader a sense of purpose.

~ Keep the word count in books at an acceptable level for schools. 4th and 5th graders should be able to read books that are 25,000 words, middle schoolers 37,000 words, and high schoolers 50,000 words. (Adults, 75,000-130,000 words.)

~ Students should be able to finish the entire book in ten days or less. (Read about thirty pages a day, or 3,500 words a day.)


Everything comes down to how the author presents the story:

~ Chapters should be one to four pages. The reader will have a sense of accomplishment, which will increase their confidence.

~ Short paragraphs, nothing over seven sentences. This will enhance the intensity of the book, while building even more confidence in the reader as their eyes move down the page with surprising speed.

~ Power sentences throughout the chapter. These are similar to the first and last line of each chapter, which “hook” the reader.

~ Section breaks to end one part of the story and entice the reader to move forward to the next part of the story. The section break is yet another “hook” to keep the reader interested.

~ Movie script dialogue. (Very important!) This is putting the character name in front of the dialogue, instead of always saying, “he said,” and “she said.” Movie script dialogue is a great way to have three or more characters speaking during a scene, increase the speed of the book, and decrease confusion for the reader.

~ Shortened descriptions. Every sentence used to describe a character or scene is another chance to lose the readers interest. Descriptions are important, but it is not necessary to explain every detail. Instead, it is more productive to keep the story moving.

~ Make the reader a character in the story. Every book should have several chapters that actually speak directly to the reader, making him/her a character in the story. Personalizing a story to readers is the ultimate “hook.”

~ Intensity and emotions should be the focus of the story, rather than a book that is so dark it may offend students, teachers, and/or parents.

~ Conflict in the story should be both personal and global. The story should connect to the reader on a personal level, along with connecting to the daily life of the reader.

~ Sub-characters unwillingly become a hindrance to the main characters. This shows the reader how to solve problems with others, even when it seems the solutions are limited.

~ Believable fiction, which results in conversation. Readers should be excited to discuss the story during and after they read the book, because the fiction is plausible.

~ The reader is entertained while being taught something new. Learning from books is the ultimate goal.

~ Psychological Thrillers. Most children, tween, and teen books are fantasy, or classic writing. A psychological thriller genre is a heart-pumping mystery, semi-dark format, mind-game storyline, with villains that can be anyone, anything, or any emotion that creates a setting for characters that skirts the line between what is real and what is possibly real.


A reader will begin a book thinking they are starting with “A,” which is the beginning of the story while subconsciously thinking they need to reach “Z”, which is the end of the story. If the student thinks that way, then he/she could be intimidated before they even begin reading.

Instead, a book should read more like, “A,” to “B,” to “C,” to “D,” and continue the thrill ride to “Z.”


~ A sixth grade middle school had a two-hour reading marathon using Middle Room, which is setup with this format. The students read at least 120 pages of the 288-page book. (About 7,500 words and hour!)

~ Struggling readers and advanced readers are not separated, giving them the chance to discuss the same books.

~ Confidence in reading led to motivation, which led to patience, which led to purpose, which led to participation and positive attitude whenever reading was mentioned.

These once struggling readers will eventually give other books a chance. First, they will hunt for books with a similar writing presentation, but later, will have the confidence and skill to read any size, or type of book.

Ron Knight

“Simple to read…hard to forget.”

Email: authorronknight@aol.com

Web: www.authorronknight.com

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