When it comes to the primary academic practice of reading aloud, I fail to see how said practice could cause children to be reluctant readers. True, it does involve a certain amount of pressure placed on the child to read perfectly and swiftly, lest they be jeered at by their peers, but in all honesty, that strikes me as creating a feeling of reluctance towards public speaking as opposed to reading. After all, as the statistics show, more people are frightened of public speaking than of their own demise. Reading didn’t even make the greatest fears list.
Now I can hear some of you saying that fear and reluctance are two entirely different things, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Be that as it may, I’m still not buying that reading aloud badly will put a kid off reading for life. To say that is to say that making a kid complete a mathematical equation on the chalkboard is liable to cause the child to become reluctant about doing math, simply because they might just get the problem fantastically and utterly wrong. Speaking as someone who has been diagnosed with a learning disability in math (dyscalculia,) I can tell you straight; I have managed to screw up a lot of problems on the chalkboard in my time, with great style and distinctive panache. Has it put me off doing math for the rest of my life? Not in the slightest. It just means that it’s something that isn’t going to come naturally or easily to me, but it’s still a skill I need to attempt to perform in order to make it through life, even if I don’t always get it right the first time around.
This is not to say that behind every child experiencing trouble with reading is an undiagnosed case of dyslexia; that’s something only a licensed professional will be able to discern. But even so, leaving aside the possible issue of a learning disability, reading aloud still will not cause a child to be a reluctant reader. If a child is a reluctant reader, it doesn’t matter if the reading is done out loud or silently; the kid will simply do whatever they can to avoid reading, be it idly daydreaming during reading time, procrastinating on reading homework or even going to such dramatic lengths as pitching a fit like clockwork when the teacher declares that it’s time to read. If a child does not want to read, it does not matter how the reading is done; they will avoid it like the plague.
Reading aloud can be a scary prospect whether you actually enjoy reading or not. I would wager that while there are children who detest reading aloud because of legitimate problems with reading, they are very small in number. The majority of children who loathe reading aloud feel that way because they are afraid of sounding like an idiot, which is much closer in nature to public speaking than just plain reading. Reading aloud doesn’t make children reluctant readers; it makes them reluctant public speakers.