My daughter, a second-grader, really dislikes reading, probably because it is such a struggle for her. It is a constant fight at home to even get her to read. What can be done to turn things around? -- Struggling Reader's Mom


Your daughter is just like everyone else. People usually try to avoid things that are difficult for them to do. Why is reading so difficult for her? Find out from her teacher and ask that appropriate testing be done to pinpoint exactly where the child is having problems. Then find out what the school is doing and is going to do to help her become a better reader. You also might want to look into getting a tutor to improve the child's reading skills. Plus, some universities have free reading clinics that work with struggling readers. It is important to hop on this NOW. Children who have problems reading by the end of third grade rarely become good readers.

Your daughter does not feel good about reading. Stop at once fighting with her to make her read. This is counterproductive. Instead, work on helping her get some joy from reading. Here are some suggestions:

1. Read to her a lot.

2. Go to the library and get books that are easy for her to read. Have her read a book until she can read it perfectly. Quickly supply words that she does not know. Books that repeat words and phrases a lot are confidence-builders. A good rule of thumb when picking out a book for her to read is that she can miss no more than five words out of 100 for it to be on her reading level.

3. Read stories aloud together.

4. Take turns reading books -- alternating pages or paragraphs.

5. Get her some read-along books so that she will be able to hear a word at the same time she is looking at it.

6. Find some books with just pictures, no words. Then let her make up a story to describe what is happening.

Besides helping your daughter get some pleasure from reading, there are techniques that parents can use to improve children's reading skills. Visit dearteacher.com, and click on "Reading" in "Skill Builders" for some solid suggestions. You also might want to get our list of Instant Words, which are the words that all children must know to be successful readers. Play games with them to teach her the sight words she needs to know.