How to Overcome common challenges new readers face

Have you ever stared down at a book, eager to dive in, but found yourself a few pages later feeling lost and discouraged? You’re not alone! Picking up a new reading habit can be like learning any new skill – it takes practice and a little know-how to overcome the initial hurdles.

The good news? Reading unlocks a whole world of knowledge, entertainment, and personal growth. It can improve your focus, reduce stress, and even boost your vocabulary. Here’s the thing – those benefits don’t magically appear the first time you crack open a book.

This guide tackles some of the most common challenges new readers face and equips you with the tools to conquer them. So, grab your favorite beverage, find a comfy spot, and let’s embark on this reading adventure together!

Difficulty Focusing: Taming the Wandering Mind

We live in a world overflowing with distractions. Between buzzing notifications and the endless scroll of social media, keeping your focus glued to the page can feel like an impossible feat.

This lack of focus isn’t a personal failing! Our brains are wired to seek out new stimuli, making it easy for our attention to wander while reading.

Here’s how to combat this:

  • Find Your Sanctuary: Create a dedicated reading space that’s quiet and free from clutter. Put your phone on silent or turn it off entirely. A comfortable chair and good lighting can also make a big difference.
  • Embrace the Timer: Set a timer for short bursts of focused reading, like 15 or 20 minutes. This helps train your brain to concentrate for sustained periods.
  • Take Breaks (the Good Kind): If your mind starts to wander, don’t force it. Take a short break, stretch your legs, grab a glass of water, and come back refreshed.

Slow Reading Speed: Don’t Get Discouraged, It Gets Faster!

Let’s be honest, everyone wishes they could read as fast as the speed-reading champion in the movies. Here’s the reality – reading speed naturally improves with practice. Just like it takes time to master any new skill, becoming a faster reader requires dedication.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Ditch the Finger: While some people find using their finger as a guide helpful when they’re young learners, it can actually slow you down later. Train your eyes to scan across the line without needing a physical guide.
  • Silence the Inner Voice: Subvocalization, or saying the words in your head while reading, can slow down your reading speed. Try to focus on absorbing the meaning of the words on the page without the internal monologue.
  • Consider Audiobooks: Audiobooks are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in a story while freeing up your eyes. This can be particularly helpful for improving comprehension while on the go or doing other tasks.

Remember, reading speed isn’t a race! Focus on understanding and enjoying the material, and your reading pace will naturally increase over time.

Poor Vocabulary: New Words Are Your Friends, Not Foes!

Stumbling upon unfamiliar words is an inevitable part of reading. It’s actually a good sign – it means you’re exploring new territory and expanding your knowledge base!

Here’s how to handle those vocabulary roadblocks:

  • Context is King: Pay attention to the surrounding sentences. Often, the context provides clues to the meaning of the unknown word.
  • Don’t Fear the Dictionary: Keep a physical dictionary handy or utilize online resources. Don’t be afraid to look up unfamiliar words and jot them down for later reference.
  • Embrace Repetition: Encountering a new word once might not be enough to remember it. The more you see the word used in different contexts, the more likely it is to stick in your memory.

Building vocabulary is a lifelong journey, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand every word on the page. Embrace the challenge and celebrate each new word you learn!

Losing Interest: Finding the Perfect Match

Let’s face it, not every book is going to be a slam dunk. Just like with movies or music, personal preferences come into play. If you find yourself struggling to stay engaged with a book, don’t force it!

Here’s how to find stories that truly resonate with you:

  • Explore Different Genres: There’s a whole world of literature out there! If you’re not a fan of historical fiction, maybe try a young adult fantasy novel or a heartwarming coming-of-age story.
  • Embrace Different Formats: Audiobooks can be a great way to experience a book if traditional reading feels like a chore. E-readers also offer features like font size adjustments and built-in dictionaries for a more comfortable reading experience.
  • The Power of Recommendations: Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, or librarians for suggestions. There are also a wealth of online resources and communities dedicated to book recommendations. You can find websites and social media groups that cater to specific genres or interests.

Remember, reading should be enjoyable! If a book isn’t sparking joy, move on to something else. There’s a whole library (or bookstore!) full of potential favorites waiting to be discovered.

Difficulty Remembering What You Read: Sharpening Your Comprehension Skills

Ever finished a chapter and realized you have no clue what you just read? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!

Here are some strategies to improve your comprehension and retention:

  • Active Reading is Key: Don’t just passively skim the words. Engage with the text by highlighting key points, taking notes (physical or digital!), or asking yourself questions about what you’re reading.
  • Summarize as You Go: After each chapter or section, take a moment to summarize the main points in your own words. This helps solidify the information in your mind.
  • Discuss and Share: Talking about a book with someone else is a fantastic way to boost comprehension and enjoyment. Find a friend or join a book club to discuss what you’re reading and gain new perspectives.

Bonus Section: Building a Reading Habit – It’s All About Consistency

Congratulations! You’ve tackled the common challenges and are well on your way to becoming a confident reader. But how do you turn reading from an occasional activity into a lifelong habit?

Here’s the key – consistency!

  • Set Realistic Goals: Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to read for hours on end right away. Start with small, achievable goals, like 15-30 minutes per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend reading as you become more comfortable.
  • Schedule Reading Time: Treat reading time like any other important appointment in your day. Block out a specific time in your schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Find Your Reading Tribe: Joining a book club or online reading community can provide motivation and accountability. Sharing your reading experiences with others can make the journey even more enjoyable.
  • Find a Reading Buddy: Partner up with a friend or family member who also wants to establish a reading habit. You can hold each other accountable and discuss the books you’re reading together.


Reading is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and most importantly, have fun! With a little dedication and these helpful tips, you’ll be conquering those books and reaping the countless benefits of reading in no time.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a book, curl up in your favorite spot, and get lost in the magic of words! Happy reading!