Have you ever heard children utter this dreaded phrase? "I do not like books anymore." It would break my heart. And yet I compl...

I Do Not Like Books Anymore + Tips for Kids Struggling to Learn to Read

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 BookBairn 6 Comments

Have you ever heard children utter this dreaded phrase? "I do not like books anymore." It would break my heart. And yet I completely understand that for children learning to read, trying to decipher and decode those squiggly lines and symbols can really take the fun out of storytime. 

As a teacher I’ve seen some of the joy sucked out of books and stories for kids as they try to learn to read. The letters look like squiggles and the decoding takes so long that fluency and understanding is lost. Imagine how it would feel to be presented with a wonderful image-packed picture book and all the words being in a foreign language, or worse in a language that is written using a whole different alphabet where the symbols mean nothing to you? That's often how children feel when they are learning to read. They can see the symbols are there but they don't know what they mean. Or they do know what sound the symbol represents but by the time they have processed that, blended it with the other letters to make a word, they have lost the whole context of the story making it a painful word by word process.  But what they do know is that there is a story there, within their reach but they just can't grasp it! It can be an incredibly frustrating time and, for some children, it really can take away all the joy of storytime.

And that’s how Natalie, in "I Do Not Like Books Anymore" by Daisy Hirst, feels when she is learning to read.  In the second title featuring these adorable monster siblings, Natalie and Alphonse, when Natalie tries to read all by herself for the first time, the letters look like squiggles, and she isn't so sure that she likes books anymore. So Natalie instead tells stories to her brother and they make their own books packed full of their own illustrations and Dad helping to record their words. And when Alphonse asked for Natalie to tell him the story again, she finds that she can, mostly, read the book they have written.

This is a book all about finding the joy in sharing stories, in feeling frustrated learning something new, and pride when you succeed. The illustrations are so fun! And the humour is spot on. This is a must have for all kids learning to read!

We are delighted to welcome Daisy Hirst to the blog to answer some of BookBairn's questions:

Mummy's Questions

As a teacher I love that you have approached the subject that learning to read can sometimes take the thrill away from reading. Is this something you have experienced yourself? Or have you seen it happen to children?

Both! It took me ages to learn to read and I did NOT like it, even though I loved books and stories – in fact it was partly that the reading books seemed so much less interesting than the books my parents read to us at home. It wasn’t until year 3 that I first had the experience of realising I was really reading a picturebook on my own. I was also, briefly, a year 3 teaching assistant and I suppose it was quite a shock to suddenly see books (and words and the alphabet) from the perspective of a child who’s really struggling with reading and whose only contact with books may be with reading scheme books which aren’t very rewarding when they do manage to decipher them (although I do realise some schemes are much more interesting than others). 

In BookBairn’s room we have a ‘Favourites Shelf’ of her favourite stories, which picture books would you have on your Favourites Shelf at the moment?

Angelo by Quentin Blake and Trubloff by John Burningham are two of my all-time favourites. Of recent books, I love Jon Klassen’s We Found A Hat and Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak? (and Maisie Paradise Shearring’s Anna and Otis but that’s not out until August)

BookBairn's Questions

“Orange is my colour. What’s your best colour?”


"What book do the monsters (Alphonse and Natalie) like to read best?”

Natalie’s favourite book (which Alphonse eats in Alphonse that is not ok to do!) is A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. I’m not sure about Alphonse’s favourite book – maybe it’s one of the ones he makes with Natalie?

“I like a lion best. What’s your favourite animal?”

I like so many animals… I really like slow lorises. And ducks. [We had to google slow lorises too!]

“I like to draw flowers just now. What are you drawing?” 

I’ve been drawing witches, a newt and bears.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions Daisy!

For parents who have children who are struggling to learn to read, here are my three quick tips to help you make sure that reading is a joy not a chore:

Make sure you still read aloud to them. Please don't let Biff, Chip and Kipper (or any other reading scheme) be the only books that they read. Help them to enjoy the magic of the stories. And by you reading aloud to them you are modelling good reading skills.

Before you do any reading of the designated reading homework, get them to tell you the story. Look at the pictures and ask them what's happening. Don't even look at the words at first. They will likely have read the book in class so they may remember some of the details. This will help them remember what the story is about and they will be saying lots of the words that will come up in the text placing them at the front of their mind so that when they do start to slow down to decode words they will have a good idea of what words the story might contain.

Try reading at a different time of day. When kids get home from school they are exhausted and probably not in a good mindset to try something tricky. I know mornings can be busy and stressful as everyone tries to get read to get out on time but reading over the breakfast table might be more successful.

To all those little ones learning to read, you are getting the keys to a magical world of wonderful lands, characters and stories! 

Good luck reading,

Disclaimer: we were sent this book free for review purposes by the publisher after we requested a copy. Words and opinions are my own.


  1. Good luck, indeed. Nice questions, BookBairn. My favourite colour is red and my favourite animal is a border collie.

  2. Very nice! I'll have to look up that book -- I have a child who loves monsters and reading, so this might be right up her alley. #blogcrush

    1. There is at least one other book in the series that I know of - they are so cute! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I know my heart would be a bit broken if my kids said they didn't like to read. They are all a bit older and thankfully love to read and now all read by themselves in bed. Congrats for having your post chosen by another blogger to be featured on the #blogcrush linky!

    1. Thank you - that's so kind that I was chosen! I'll need to have a look at your linky and nominate someone else next time!