"How can I get my kids to read more?"
This is one of the most common questions I get asked by other moms. We all know the benefits of reading, and parents want the best for their children.
Every child is different, and it's to be expected that some kids enjoy reading more than others. Some children have had a negative experience, like poor vision or an embarrassing moment, to turn them off of reading. Inevitably, there also comes an age where reading isn't "cool" anymore.
If you can, address any issues that might be hindering your child's reading progress. Do they need glasses or contacts? Do they need help reading out loud? Would an e-reader allow them to feel confident enough to keep reading throughout their teen years?
Once you've cleared up any outside hindrances, here are some easy ways to gently encourage your kids to read more.
Fill the Bookshelves
One of the simplest ways to get your child to read more books is to own more of them. A study from the University of Nevada shows that children who own books read more often and perform better in school than those who do not.
A very easy way to get quality books for your child's home library is through a children’s book subscription box like Little Fun Club. They deliver a box of hand-selected books to your doorstep every month, providing your child with both classics and newer titles. With plenty of good books on their shelves, your kids can read and reread them as often as they wish.
Give Magazines a Go
Who says reading material needs to come in book format? Magazines cover a wide variety of interests and provide a different kind of reading experience. The short format and high-interest stories might be exactly what your child craves. Here are some popular magazines to try:
- Sports Illustrated Kids
- Kids Discover
- National Geographic Kids
- American Girl Magazine
- Cricket Magazines
Let Your Child Choose
One of my friend's sons disliked reading until he was about five years old. Five wasn’t the magical age when he miraculously started to love reading. It was the age when my friend stopped trying to read traditional picture books to him. Instead, she let him choose his own book from the nonfiction section of the library. He chose a book about the history of Ford trucks. To my friend, this sounded like a total snoozer, but for a truck-obsessed boy, it was perfect.
If you let your kids pick their own reading material, they'll find books and resources that interest them and give them an incentive to keep reading.
Take your child to the library. Let them browse. Help them find a book of crafts, origami, history, machines, outer space, animals, ancient Egypt, or whatever interests them, then bring it home. Let them look through it and read at their own pace. They won't know you've tricked them into reading until it's too late.
Try Different Formats
If your child shies away from novels or books with a lot of text, try a non-traditional approach. The trick is to find reading material that doesn't feel like a chore. Do they love Pokémon? Find a collector’s guide. If they're hooked on Minecraft, give them a how-to book or guidebook. Here are some other ideas:
- Graphic novels and comics
- Audio books
- Joke books
- Fact books like almanacs and animal encyclopedias
- Books of science experiments, crafts, and activities
Read Aloud to Your Kids
Even when they're past the picture book stage, kids love hearing books read aloud. I struggled for a long time with getting my second child to enjoy reading. The thing that finally won her over was reading aloud to her and her sister every night. I let the kids decide on the book, and then we read a chapter or two together every night.
My daughter needs to keep her hands busy, so while I'm reading, she constructs massive art projects, draws pictures, or puts together crafts. I’ve come to recognize that my kids have different learning styles and different ways of connecting with a story. And I'm always surprised at how much she can tell me about the books we read, even if it seems like she wasn't listening at the time.
Remember, be persistent and lead by example. The more often your kids see you reading, the more likely they will be to pick up a book.
Do you have experience in getting a child to read more? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments!
About the author:
Dena McMurdie is the gal behind the children's book blog, Batch of Books. She also writes for Brightly and Underlined. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
My kids are already eager readers but I wanted to thank you for this guest post because now I have a new book blog to follow. I wandered over to batch of books and found at least 2 books I hadn't previously encountered for my 9yo and a ton of new things to try for my 5yo. Feeling antsy because I've maxed out my hold limit at the library and have to wait til I pick up some holds to be able to reserve these. Thanks!
Great! And I totally understand the feeling about having your library hold list maxed out. That happens to me all the time!
My son, a rising 2nd grader hates to read. I realize this is my fault; reading has become a chore. I have always required that he read at least 15 minutes at night. I sit with him and listen. He moans and groans ans says how much he hates it and how boring it is. I have tried various approaches - let him pick out books; graphic novels; etc. He picks out books that are way too easy. Having independent reading time (he doesnt really read the book - based on the fact that when I ask him questions about what he read, he doesn;t know). He is a decent reader (slightly above grade level) but reading has become a power struggle. My issue is that if he doesnt read for even a week, his ability suffers. Already this summer, he is having trouble reading books that he would have easily read during the school year. I want him to love reading as much as I do. He enjoys listening to me read and to listening to books on tape. So... should I just back off requiring him to read out loud and focus on reading to him/books on tape - even if his reading level going in to 2nd suffers as a result?
Hi, I would definitely seek out the advice of a literacy expert at your son's school or library. There may be other issues going on if his ability suffers when he doesn't read. My son also hated reading out loud to me, so I stopped and now he loves reading by himself. I also think it is perfectly okay to read books that are easy. This can help him gain confidence. However, I do think it would be wise to seek advice from teachers or reading specialists. - Erica
Clare Brown says
Fred's Box is another fun and educational subscription box that always sends an age appropriate reading book in every box. http://fredsbox.co.uk
LOTS of library visits + buy bulk at Craigslist amounts to lots of books and magazines laying round the house. I don't limit them on the book shelves only, I rotate the latest stacks on staircase(high traffic area); magazines rack in bathroom; current library books on coffee table; rotate picture books or riddles or Mad Lib in the car. I read a lot too. Sometimes I take them to the library it's bc I want to pick out latest Lucky Day ones for myself. At the same time you have to make other options non-exists or less appealing: e.g.no screen time during school days. No screen time in the car. Don't be rigid about what they "should" read. If they are caught reading something on your Martha Stewart Living magazine, that's reading too! In fact, that's really good reading. They are reading to learn. Even older kids enjoy picture books or those big reference books. I do set a ground rule since they were in lower grades: every chapter book they finished, they can read a graphic novel. That way you don't get into tug-of-war with them.