Reading Difficult Material

Reading difficult material is an unavoidable reality in the continued development of the child with reading difficulty.

Reading difficult text is an important part of early learning. If your child were to read only books that he/she was familiar and comfortable with then learning could become quite stagnant.

No new concepts would be learnt, new words would not be added to your child's vocabulary, and language development would certainly be diminished.

School-age children learn the vast majority of new words, language concepts and ideas through the reading and comprehension of story books and non-fiction books.

But how difficult should the chosen text be? When is the reading of difficult material simply counterproductive?

The answer is, it depends.

When I introduce new language concepts I prefer to use a book that is within a student's reading range. I do this particularly when I introduce a difficult language concept, such as syntactical or grammatical rules.

The story acts as a contextual anchor for the child to return to. The familiar story aids the child's understanding of recently learnt or difficult concepts. This occurs because the student learns the new concept within a context that is familiar and well known.

However, if I am adding new semantic information I often prefer that the text be a little difficult for the child. The method of repeated readings caters well for any difficulties a child may encounter.

The method of repeated reading allows your child to read over a passage with you as many times as it takes to achieve fluency. Fluency is often achieved after your child has learnt the new words well (difficult words that your child miscued) and added them to their semantic network.

If your child continues to have considerable difficulty maintaining fluency on a particular book and it may be necessary to select a text that is a little easier.

You can say, 'This book has a number of difficult words, how about we return to it later? Let's try this book (simpler text) instead.'


Blank, M. (2006)The Reading Remedy. Six Essential Skills that Will Turn Your Child into a Reader. Jossey-Bass

Wallach, G.P. (2008) Language Intervention for School-Age Students: Setting Goals for Academic Success. Mosby Elsevier

Wagner, R.K. Muse, A.E. & Tannenbaum, K.R. (2007) Vocabulary Acquisition: Implications for Reading Comprehension. The Guilford Press

Wolf, M. (2008) Proust and the Squid. The Story and Science of the Reading Brain Icon Books Ltd.

Content Last Updated 8/11

Return from Reading Difficult Material to Tips for Parents

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.