My 13-year-old doesn’t like to read, now what?

My 13-year-old doesn’t like to read, now what? I recently had a conversation with a friend about this and as I was talking with her, I was very interested. It got me thinking about reading in general. 

My eldest daughter wasn’t a big fan of reading either, until she found a genre that she really liked. As an adult, she enjoys reading non-fiction, but I kept trying to “feed” her fiction. She just wasn’t interested in it. I couldn’t figure it out! I loved to read fiction. Any free-time I got, I would be reading a fictional series and absolutely devouring it. But, when I tried the same thing with her, she just wasn’t interested in much of anything I brought home. 

So, back to this conversation I had a few days ago. The mother of the 13-year-old is highly educated, she has several lovely children. She works hard and is interested in her children and their  learning, but she is just perplexed about her son. He does well in school. He performs at the 90% and higher on his academic tests, but she feels he just doesn’t do as well in reading as she would like him to. 

We have not set anything up yet, but as I was talking to her, I asked her a few questions. Did he have any specific genre that he was interested in? Was he struggling with his comprehension? She wasn’t sure about either one, she just knew he didn’t like to read. I shared a few of these things with her as we chatted about his lack of interest in reading.

This is actually a pretty common thing that I hear from parents.  When you get to the heart of it, you learn a few things about the kids. You learn that they don’t have a genre that they like. Oftentimes, after an initial assessment, I learn that they are either low in their reading comprehension skills. They haven’t really been taught how to think about what they are reading. Or, it may be that they don’t have strong phonics skills and when they get to words they don’t know, they don’t have strategies that help them understand multi-syllabic words. (Longer words.)

If she would decide to work with me, I would definitely do a reading assessment with her child. I would determine if he has strong comprehension skills, it could come down to the fact that he struggles with larger and more complex text or multi-syllabic words. Both of these can be resolved with some simple interventions, that in real honesty, for a 13 year old, may only take about 6 week, meeting approximately 12 times. I would do another assessment to see if he made progress and then let the family determine if they want more help. 

If I discover there is no real problem, it may come down to the fact that he simply hasn’t discovered a genre that he enjoys. In that case, I would recommend a visit to the local library. I would send a few ideas for books he could look at and see if there was anything of interest. But, I do think it is important to understand that he might not find something right away. 

Parents often get worried that there is something wrong. That is not always the case, but I am always happy to listen, assess, and make a plan. I have had a lot of experiences where the child that hated to read, suddenly loves it and the parents just cannot believe that this is their child. 

If you have a child who is not interested in reading and you are worried there is a problem, reach out to me. I would love to be a part of the solution! For more information about me, go to I have some summer spots available and would love to help your child create a love of reading! 

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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