Tips for Getting Kids to Read

The Mama Zone - Encourage Reading

Way back in 2010, I wrote a post on getting your kids to read during the summer. My basic premise was that the best way to get kids to read in the summer is to develop a pattern of reading during the rest of the year. With that in mind, I thought I’d dust off those tips and share them again to refresh your memories. Whether you have an emerging reader, a reluctant reader or a casual reader, these tips should help you motivate your child to read and enjoy it.

Tips for Encouraging Kids to Read

  1. Cultivate a love for reading. Reading ought to be a natural part of life, something kids are encouraged to do willingly and rewarded for often. If you frame it as a regular, daily occurrence, rather than a dreaded school or homework assignment, you’ll be better off (and so will they!).
  2. Make books available. I know that sounds a bit too basic and uncomplicated, but it works. I often joke that my kids have more books than toys when they were smaller and this was deliberate. Here’s the thing, if I want them to eat vegetables, I put vegetables on their plates. I want them to read, so I surround them with books.
  3. Make them read. Don’t be uncomfortable about this. If I piggyback on my previous analogy, you make them eat vegetables because they’re essential to their health, so make them read because it’s essential to their success. Don’t worry–if you’re consistent here, “making” them read will soon turn into “letting” them read. Don’t be a wimp about this, parent-friends. It’s absolutely necessary.
  4. Let them see you reading. Our kids are smart little absorbent sponges and you know they mimic most everything we do. Model reading (and a LOVE for reading) and they will be more inclined to follow suit.
  5. Read to your kids. I know you’re tired after a long day of work, but make the time to read aloud to your kids. It’s important for kids to be read to and you cannot replace the results of spending this kind of quality time with them.
  6. Let reading be random. Let them read what they want–books at their level, below their level and even above. Give them magazines, newspapers, comic books, dictionaries, the Bible and anything else they’re interested in perusing. If it’s clean and positive, let them have at it! Vary the reading levels, the subject matter and the lengths, but make sure you find books your child will find interesting
  7. Pay them to read. Yep, pay them. The going rate for chapter books was four bucks around here. That went a long way when they were collecting Littlest Pet Shop and Pokemon cards! Make sure the pay is reasonable and enough motivation for your child. Just make sure you follow through on payment and you’ll know when the time is right to stop offering the cash incentive.
  8. Hang out in the bookstore. Yes, we do this. You don’t have to shop every time you go, but give the chance to roam around and explore.
  9. Go to the library. Yes, they still exist! Take your kids there and make sure they have a library card. It’s a great place to study as well. Just remember to return those books!
  10. Be consistent. Whatever you do to encourage your kids to read, do it consistently. Keep that vegetable analogy in your head and that will keep you focused.

Remember, I’m a teacher, so I know a few things ;-). And, speaking of teachers, here’s a bonus tip: don’t let school reading sour your child’s enthusiasm for reading. Students have to read lots of things that they don’t want to read and honestly, educational reading can indeed be boring. Remind your child that this is a part of life, but don’t let that dread spill over into their “regular” reading life.

Apply these tips and you just might end up with a happy reader on your hands. Don’t stress about it, and by all means, don’t stress your kids about it. Expose them to books, make it a daily expectation, lead by example, and make it fun! Now, tell me, what would you add to the list? What reading tips have worked best for you?

The MamaZone-Tips for Getting Kids to Read


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  • slehan

    My folks were always reading and my sister and I are now avid readers. I visit my library about once a week.
    slehan at juno dot com

    • zonemom

      That’s great. It definitely makes a difference when kids see their parents reading.

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