Raise kids who love to read with these ten ideas.
We all know how important it is for kids to read but what about raising kids who actually want to read on their own, or better yet, love to read?
Kids who love to read will gravitate towards books, spend time curled up on a couch with a favorite tale, and can’t take enough trips to the library.
A love of reading opens kids up to learning new ideas, helps them academically, and sets them up for a lifetime of critical thinking and empathy for others (See other benefits of reading here)
I’ve got both a naturally eager reader and a child who was at first a reluctant reader but recently is choosing to read on her own.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned a few strategies to get my reluctant reader to embrace a love of reading and begin to pick up books because she wants to – not because I or a teacher has told her to.
The following are ten tips to help you raise kids who get excited about reading:
#1 Read together
You know this already but I’ll say it anyway – reading to babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and even young adolescents is the best way to get kids interested in reading. Period. Here’s why it’s important:
- Before they’re able to read, hearing books read from you creates a love of stories and tales
- Hearing literature exposes kids to vocabulary they may not encounter in conversation
- Stories stimulate kids imagination and enlarges their understanding of the world
- Reading to kids after they become independent readers can increase their knowledge and motivate them to improve their skills
#2 Model reading
Perhaps the second best way to encourage kids to read is to have them catch you doing it AND enjoying it. Since kids look to their parents for cues, they’ll begin to associate reading as a normal and fun activity that they too should be enjoying.
And beyond just letting your kids catch you reading, talk to them about what you read. Mention a book you just finished that made you think or filled you with awe. Or what you learned from a recent news article about the benefits of eating chocolate after dinner – you get the idea. Through these conversations, kids will begin to associate reading with discovering new ideas and information.
#3 Take the pressure off
Whatever you do, under no circumstance should you pressure your child to read. Kids will only associate reading with something they are being forced to do rather than something that they want to do if adults make them feel guilty for not reading more or push them to spend time reading.
And as for reading charts supplied by your school? Think twice before strictly enforcing a time limit on your kids. Reading logs can make reading more of a chore than a pleasure – and the goal is to raise kids who want to read.
See related: Can Reading Logs Ruin Reading for Kids?
So if pressuring kids to read or having them fill in a chart doesn’t work, what does?
Certainly making a habit of reading books to kids is a good start (see #2). But also having a specific time of day when everyone reads in your house, such as the evening, makes reading feel more like a fun group activity rather than a task your child needs to do on their own.
#4 Make reading about more than just reading
Kids love connection. They love spending time with their parents and feeling close. Reading is an easy way to connect with kids and associates reading with the warm cuddly feelings of being close to Mom or Dad.
When I can’t get my reluctant reader to read, she’s more willing to crack open a book when I suggest we read together, in a special way – such as:
- Cuddle up in bed and read either together or independently
- Build a fort outside or in the living room and read books inside
- Lay a blanket on the grass and enjoy the fresh air while getting lost in book
#5 Find the perfect book
Obviously. But sometimes finding the perfect book for kids is easier said than done. For picky readers, it might take multiple tries before finding a story they can get lost in.
Searching the stacks of books at the library is often the perfect solution, but sometimes life gets in the way and frequent trips to the library can’t happen often enough.
Whenever my reluctant reader rejects all the books in our house, I turn to Epic to find one that interests her. Think of Epic as the Netflix of children’s books. It provides access to 20,000 children’s books on your iPad or tablet, including audiobooks. My daughter loves scrolling through the selections, discovering new tales, and flipping through “pages” on her own.
We’ve discovered a lot of fun tales through Epic, and there’s something about reading on a tablet that makes the experience exciting for my daughter.
#6 Turn the library into an adventure
If you’re already visiting your local library on a semi-regular basis, mix it up by checking out nearby libraries within your network. Seeing new libraries can be like a mini-adventure for kids. New libraries also mean new books, a new librarian (with potentially new suggestions), and more often than not a new variety of books to explore.
Related: Nine Library Adventure Challenges
#7 Go beyond the book
A great way to show kids that reading is fun is to see theater productions or movies of books you’ve read. Seeing a story come to life animates a tale and makes it all the easier to imagine and take in.
Or if you’re feeling really inspired (and can spare the time) have kids act out a story you just read. Older kids might even want to produce their own play and present it to you when they’re done.
Anything that will increase your child’s desire to explore and hear stories will inspire them to seek out stories on their own.
#8 Be a stalker
If your child loves a certain author follow them online. Many authors have games, giveaways and answer questions about their books online. It’s also a great way to see if a favorite author will be visiting a local bookstore near you. Kids can also write to their favorite authors to tell them what they liked about their book and ask questions – and who knows – maybe they’ll write back!
#9 Set up a book club
Reading a book alongside other friends is a great way to stay motivated and engaged. Just like an adult book club, members can agree to read a book and then get together to discuss it on a certain date. Make the story come alive by creating props or serving food associated with the story. It can also be fun to watch a movie of the book after the group’s had a chance to discuss and analyze the story.
Other ways to strengthen kids’ literary skills besides reading books:
- For some kids magazines are more compelling than books. Some of our favorites include Cricket Magazine‘s Faces & Cricket magazines as well as National Geographic’s Kids. Stone Soup is also a fun one since it’s written and illustrated by kids.
- Encourage kids to write by purchasing a fun journal they can take with them to camp or on a trip.
- These Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter No Rules, No Stress journals can also be a fun way to get kids writing
- Have kids publish their own book with Scribblitt. Options include printing a hardcover book and a comic book. Prices range from $16.99 to $24.99.
- Play a game of Scrabble, Boggle, or Super Sleuth.
- Audiobooks can be a great way to pass the time during long road trips. See: 40 Favorite Audiobooks for Kids.
- Also a fun way to pass the time while traveling: Mad Libs.
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Check out these lists for book ideas:
- 14 Children’s Books That Promote a Growth Mindset
- 12 Children’s Books That Teach Perseverance
- 11 Books About Why it’s Ok to be Different
- 17 Children’s Books About Math
- 12 Children’s Books About How to Handle Strong Emotions
- 13 Books About Famous Artists
- 10 Children’s Books to Inspire Creativity in Kids
- 10 Children’s Books That Teach Empathy
- 12 Children’s Books That Teach Generosity and Gratitude
- 28 Children’s Books About Money