3 Main Reasons Why Children Struggle With Reading

Main Reasons Why Children Struggle With Reading

Many children struggle with reading for a variety of reasons. Let’s discover what they are.

It’s no secret that many children struggle with reading. There are a variety of factors that can cause someone to be a slow reader. Unfortunately, these children often have problems keeping up in school and fall behind academically.

To fully address this issue, we must identify the root cause. In this article, I’ll explore all the possibilities.

Reasons why children struggle with reading

Reasons for children struggling with reading can include difficulty with word decoding, fluency, or comprehension. These difficulties can be due to a variety of factors, such as a prior history of learning difficulties, a lack of exposure to reading materials, or a general dislike of reading. While some children may outgrow their struggles with reading, others may continue to struggle throughout their school years and beyond.

Read also: 22 Main Reasons Why Students Fall Behind Academically

Why children struggle with reading
“Children are made readers in the laps of their parent.” – Emilie Buchwald

Research shows that approximately 16% of children struggle to read. Unfortunately, poor reading associates with increased rates of attempted suicide, incarceration, depression, school dropout, and low self-esteem.

McArthur (2017)

(1) Word decoding issues cause children to struggle with reading

Decoding is the ability to translate a written word into its spoken counterpart. Essentially, word decoding skills refer to the ability to sound out words. This skill is essential for reading, but it can be difficult for some children to master.

Children with difficulty reading due to decoding have challenges identifying “non-words” or words that are not familiar. There are a number of reasons why decoding may cause difficulties for children.

Causes for difficulty with word decoding

  • Visual processing difficulties: Struggling to recognize words by sight.
  • Auditory processing difficulties: Struggling to understand what is heard makes it hard to process the sounds of speech.
  • Neurological disorders such as cognitive impairment and learning disability.

Read also: 16 Study Tips For Slow Learners That Actually Work

Research shows that persons who struggle with reading have higher rates of attention deficit disorder, anxiety and low self-concept.

mcarthur (2017)

(2) Difficulty with fluency causes children to struggle with reading

Fluency skills involve being able to read words quickly, accurately, and with expression. Fluency is an important skill for children to develop in order to become successful readers.

When children struggle with fluency, they often have difficulty understanding what they are reading. This can lead to frustration and cause them to lose interest in reading altogether. Fluency, can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor phonemic awareness, difficulty with phonics, or a lack of exposure to high-quality literature.

Causes for difficulty with fluency

  • Inaccurate reading: Mispronouncing words or reading too slowly.
  • Difficulty identifying the main idea of a text.
  • Poor vocabulary.
  • Motor skills difficulties that affect coordination and control needed for fluent reading.
  • Challenges identifying the author’s purpose.
  • Difficulty understanding figurative language.
  • Lack of practice perhaps due to inadequate encouragement or opportunity.
  • Difficulty reading with expression and at an even pace.

Read also: 19 Easy Ways To Increase Your Brain Power

(3) Difficulty with comprehension causes children to struggle with reading

Comprehension is an essential skill for reading, yet it can be difficult for some children to understand what they read. Comprehension problems can cause children to struggle with reading.

They may have difficulty understanding what the text says and how it relates to other information. This can significantly impact a child’s ability to remember what they have read.

Comprehension skills involve being able to understand and remember what has been read.

Causes for difficulty with comprehension

  • Trouble following along as they read, and it takes them a long time to get through even a short book.
  • Some children find it hard to concentrate or pay attention when reading: their minds may wander, or they may get distracted by their surroundings.
  • Difficulty making connections between what you are reading and your prior knowledge.
  • Trouble making inferences.
  • Struggling with retention or remembering what you have read: for instance, they forget what they read soon after, or have trouble recalling specific details.
  • Having trouble understanding the author’s purpose: they may not be able to follow the argument, or they may not be sure what the author is trying to say.
  • Some people may simply not like reading or find it boring: they may prefer other activities or may not have been exposed to books that interest them.

Read also: 9 Main Reasons Why We Don’t Read More Often

Help students achieve academic success
“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” – Frank Serafini

Final words on main reasons why children struggle with reading

Many struggling readers have difficulty with one or more of these skills. However, with practice and support, most readers can improve their skills and become proficient readers.

If your child continues to struggle with reading, it’s important to seek out professional help in order to ensure that they are able to develop the skills they need to be successful readers. With the right support, your child can develop into a confident and proficient reader.

Related topics

How can I make reading a habit?

Many people want to make reading a habit, but they find it difficult to find the time or make it a priority. However, there are a few simple tricks that can help make reading a part of your daily routine. First, try to set aside at least 20 minutes each day for reading.

This can be in the morning before work, during your lunch break, or at night before bed. It’s important to pick a time when you know you won’t be interrupted. Read more

What are the benefits of reading more?

Reading is a fundamental skill that offers numerous benefits. Those who read regularly tend to have greater knowledge and vocabulary, and general understanding than those who don’t read as often.

Furthermore, reading has been linked with improved memory, concentration, and critical thinking skills. Read more


McArthur G, Castles A. Helping children with reading difficulties: some things we have learned so far. NPJ Sci Learn. 2017 Mar 31;2:7. 

University of Central Florida (2011) Identifying problems that lead to slow reading. 

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