My daughter is 5 (nearly 6) and approaching the end of Kindergarten. She brings home three books to read every day for a week from school (new ones every week).

Today she said:

No I don't want to read that one. It's too hard.

There were slightly more words on the page (8 lines of text vs the 4 she normally reads). It seems to be an 'attitude'/'confidence' type of issue. Just wanting to stretch to the next level.

Now maybe there is some underlying issue. I can talk to her and find out more about her feelings and try to tackle those. Where I want to get to is enthusiasm and confidence. Whilst I can be supportive, I don't want to set a pattern of emotionally dependent behaviour. I want her to be enthusiastic about the challenge of reading.

My question is: How do I instil confidence when my child (aged 5 nearly 6) declines to read a book as 'too hard' when sent home from school as homework?

  • Has she done this more than once? Have you noticed a similar "opting out" in other moderate challenges?
    – Acire
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 13:51

3 Answers 3


For the immediate problem:
Have you tried just covering half the lines with a piece of paper? It may really just be the 8 line looking horribly much, and if she can see that it really just is 4 lines, and then another 4 lines, just as before, it may help.

Segmenting big problems into small ones can be a challenge eve for an adult, so imagine how hard it must be for her!


Keep in mind, it is very difficult for a teacher to match up an appropriate level of reading difficulty to a particular child, even with specialized training. There's at least some chance this is more than a confidence issue.

At any rate, make sure to validate her feelings, not minimize or dispel them. Say something like, "You're right, this book does look pretty hard, but your teacher assigned it for homework, so that must mean she thinks you're starting to read well enough to read hard books. I think so too."


I would suggest reading the book to her, several times. While you're reading, follow the words with your finger, so she can follow along.

After a few readings, suggest that she be the "finger-mover," while you continue to read the words.

Once she's comfortable with that, get her to start reading it, but tell her you'll fill in any words she can't get.

By the time she's read it through a few more times, she should be getting most, if not all of it, on her own. If she's still struggling a lot, that could be an indication that the book actually is beyond her reading level.

**Note that this shouldn't all be done in one sitting (unless she's game for that), but should be spread out over the course of hours or even days (if you have that much time).

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