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How to Motivate Your Child to Read

boy sitting in bed reading books

Quick poll: Which category is your child in?

  1. LOVES to read!
  2. Could take it or leave it.
  3. Really dislikes reading.

Our goal—and I’m guessing it’s your goal too—is to get your child into the first category.

But what can you do if your child just isn’t motivated to read?

There is actually quite a bit you can do to encourage a love of reading, but first, let’s do some detective work.

Why Doesn’t Your Child Like to Read?

Before you work on motivating your child, it helps if you understand why he resists reading in the first place. Which scenario depicts your resistant reader?

Frustrated child

“Reading is hard!”

You probably wouldn’t choose hard work as a leisure activity, and that’s true for your child, too. If reading is a struggle, he probably won’t find reading interesting or enjoyable.

If your child is a struggling reader, take a look at why this might be. Does he have issues with fluency, or have gaps in his phonogram knowledge? Maybe he’s struggling because he’s guessing at words or hasn’t developed strong vocabulary skills. It’s even possible he has dyslexia or another learning challenge. But whatever the cause, if your child feels that reading is too much work, begin by identifying and addressing his areas of weakness. As he becomes a better reader, he will enjoy reading much more.

Sleeping child

“Reading is boring!”

For some kids, reading isn’t hard, but it isn’t interesting either. But it may be that they just haven’t found reading material that motivates them.

Think about what your child loves to do. Does he have a hobby or special area of interest? Does your son like dinosaurs? Does your daughter like gymnastics? By finding reading material that piques their interest and draws them into reading, you’re giving your children a motivational boost.

10 Tips to Motivate Your Child to Read

  1. Make time for reading. If your child has a jam-packed schedule and reading is shoved between gymnastics and band practice, reading may seem like an unwelcome chore. Allow reading to be a relaxing and enjoyable time, free from pressure.
  2. Download 10 Ways to Motivate your Child to Read Quick Guide
  3. Set aside a regular read-aloud time with your children. Choose a variety of high-quality literature that appeals to your child’s age and interests. Audio books are another great option for a reluctant reader. And don’t abandon read-aloud time when your children get older—no one is too old for a great read-aloud.
  4. Make sure the reading material isn’t beyond your child’s reading abilities. The interest may be there, but if the book is hard to read, your child’s motivation will wane.
  5. Create a cozy reading nook. A special reading space may be all the encouragement your child needs to settle down and spend time with a good book!
  6. Motivate kids to read with reading nooks
  7. Look for a variety of reading material. Kids often gravitate toward the fiction shelves in the library, but don’t stop there. There are many other genres to consider: joke books, cookbooks, how-to books, graphic novels, and biographies are all great non-fiction possibilities. And children’s magazines can be a great out-of-the-box way to encourage a child to read.
  8. Try buddy reading with your struggling reader. Buddy reading can help improve a child’s fluency and make him feel more comfortable with reading on his own.
  9. Have your reluctant reader read easy picture books to younger siblings. This provides excellent practice, yet it doesn’t feel like work.
  10. Boy reading to younger sister
  11. Let humor work its magic! Select a funny book at your child’s reading level and read the first chapter aloud. Then stop reading. If your child wants to find out what happens next, he’ll have to read it himself!
  12. Exhibit a love of reading. When your kids observe that you love to read, they’re more likely to develop a love of reading themselves.
  13. Provide access to books. Use your public library. Create a home library. Keep books accessible. When your child decides he wants to read, you want to be sure there’s a book at his fingertips. Our picture book and chapter book library lists are a great place to start!
  14. boy reading a book on the floor

Have you discovered a great way to motivate your child to read? Please share in the comments below and we’ll add your idea to our readers’ tips box.

Motivational Tips Recommended by Our Readers

  • For every 10 books your child reads, allow her to choose a prize from a bin of dollar store goodies. (Recommended by D. Jacobs via Instagram)
  • Pick books that feature topics and themes your child is already interested in. (Recommended by Lara via Instagram)
  • Let your child choose what he or she wants to read! (Recommended by Sarahi D. via Facebook)
  • I make sure that books with higher reading levels have lots of illustrations and diagrams. (Recommended by Nancy B. via Facebook)
  • Comic books! (Recommended by Alaina K. via Facebook)
  • Keeping a reading log of completed books can be a great motivator! (Recommended by Robin W., AALP Customer Service)
  • Graphic novels got my oldest son interested in reading! (Recommended by Corrie via Facebook)
  • Read aloud together with finger puppets! (Recommended by Marci via blog comment)
  • Choose silly chapter books like How to Eat Fried Worms that tickle your child’s funny bone. (Recommended by Rachael via blog comment)
  • Have an older child read easy picture books to a younger sibling. (Recommended by Ann Marie via blog comment.)
  • Create fun and engaging activities that tie in to the themes of a book your child is reading. (Recommended by Allyson via blog comment)
  • Challenge your child to make up fun voices as he reads. (I do it too!) (Recommended by Anita via blog comment)
  • Use one-page stories to get them past the fear of the story being too long. You can even write your own! (Recommended by Anita via blog comment)
  • The “book it” program by Pizza Hut is a great motivator. (Recommended by Nichol via blog comment)

Photo credit: Rachel Neumann and Joleen Steel

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Leave a Reply

Kaylene Burgess

says:

Helpful suggestions

Adenike

says:

How i wish these tips will help my 8 years old child that says reading is hard especially combining of letters to make word

Lori

says:

Thank you for this!!! I have two kids who are not big on it at all lol

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Lori! I hope you find these tips helpful.

Stacy M.

says:

Another great blog post to help guide my daughter through learning to read and succeeding!

Klariske

says:

We’re trying the Read 10 Books and get a prize. So far so good!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m happy to hear it’s going well so far, Klariske!

Trisha

says:

Thanks for the tips!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad you like them!

Susette

says:

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing. I usually require reading..if my son knew he had a goal in mind to earn something he would likely read more than just the minimum amount of time I require.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Susette. I’d love to hear if having a goal in mind helps motivate your son more!

DEBRA LASHER

says:

Would love this for my 2 grandaughters .Thank you for your tips we will be trying them .

Gloria

says:

Thanks so much for sharing ! Some of these ideas l’ve tried . I love the idea of creating a cozy corner for reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Gloria! A cozy reading spot is such a lovely thing!

Jane Thomas

says:

I hope these tips will help my child who says reading is too hard.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I do hope these help, Jane. However, the best thing to do to motivate a child to enjoy reading is to help reading become easy for them. It’s human nature to avoid hard things. Once reading becomes easy, it becomes easy to enjoy it!

Reading is often hard for children when they struggle with the foundational skills or knowledge necessary for reading success. If you like, I’d be happy to offer help and suggestions related to the specific things your child has trouble with.

Elsie Chestnutt

says:

How can a parent help their child when they have trouble reading because they have gaps in their phonics sounds. It makes the child not like to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elsie,
Well, our “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling is specially designed to be Easy to Teach at home with no previous experience or train!

Often children that are struggling to read are missing foundational skills and knowledge. Sadly, much of the time the help such students receive is focused on getting them to read at grade level and not focused on filling those foundational gaps. However, once the foundation is made solid, progress in reading becomes much easier.

You may find our How to Teach Phonograms blog post may be helpful for you as well.

Jennifer

says:

We’re just getting started with reading for our 2nd child. Really good tips!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jennifer!

Angela Bennett

says:

Love these ideas – my favorite tip is to fill your house with good books! My kids love to read and love having many books to choose from.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Angela! A house full of books, and modeling reading and enjoying books ourselves, is so important for building a love of reading!

Lisa P.

says:

The local library can be a great way to motivate kids to read. They have story hour, music events, and crafts The trip to the library can feel kid of exciting when you’re young. Plus, you can get access to books you don’t have at home so you have plenty to choose from and won’t get bored. Also, they have e-books that you can download from home and don’t even need to go to the library.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great reminder, Lisa! Libraries are an amazing resource offering such a wide variety of opportunities for all ages! Don’t forget downloadable audiobooks from the library too!

Sarah

says:

Thanks for the tips! I have one reluctant reader, so I’ll be putting some of these into action!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you find these helpful, Sarah. However, if you find you have additional questions or need more ideas, let us know. We are happy to help!

Phuntsho Choden

says:

To motivate my children I organize following activities;
1. reading picnic based on theme
2. Blind reading
3. Musical Reading chair
4. Nature peace reading

(Bhutan)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great suggestions, Phuntsho! Thank you for sharing them!

Michele K

says:

Love all these tips. may actually do help with my son, who reads when he’s in the mood, lol.

Hart Emily

says:

These are great!! I have a couple children that think I’m trying to poison them by wanting them to read! Very helpful post! Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this is helpful, Emily!

maureen lynn waldrip

says:

My kids Love to read!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear, Mareen!

Phoebe

says:

Great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them in such an organized format!

Thabiso Matjila

says:

I used to read Paul pry books when I was young and I want my children to do so.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thabiso,
Having your children enjoy the books you loved as a child is such a wonderful feeling!

Larry Bratcher

says:

My 5 year old loves to be read to.

Cait

says:

My daughter, who is very intrinsically motivated, learned to read quickly and easily with little help from anyone. However, my son is a completely different child in almost every way. I’m hoping All About Reading will provide the fun and structure he needs to really take off in reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope All About Reading will be just the thing to help your son, Cait! If you need help with placement or have questions, please let me know. I’m happy to help!

Anne-Marie King

says:

I can’t wait to try the program out with my little guy. It comes highly recommended.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear, Anne-Marie! Let me know if you have questions about placement or anything else.

April Stultz

says:

My oldest loves to read! She reads so fast, and sometimes I wonder if she is comprehending what she was or is reading. To my surprise, she can and does comprehend most of the time. My youngest, has just started to read. She enjoys the books as long she picks the book. If I try to read along with her, she doesn’t particularly like that. She has auditory processing so I know she struggles with processing what I have read. We will continue to work on it though!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I understand this, April. I have often struggled with comprehending things I hear. It’s so much easier for me just to read information!

But so much information in today’s age comes to us through our ears. There are lectures, video instruction, directions to a friend’s house, and so much more. It is worth the effort to build up her skills in listening, so I commend you on continuing to work on it!

One thing you may try is to read aloud to her from books that are a bit easier, lower level. Yes, she could read them easily, but discuss the need to be able to listen just as easily as she reads.

Mary

says:

As a child I hated anything to do with reading, spelling, writing. I was put in a special Ed class to help me. When I read, I would put words in or take words out of a sentence. I misspelled a lot of words. In the special Ed class I felt I was set apart from the everyone in the normal class. I vowed if I every had kids I would read to them every day no matter if I skipped a word or not. I never wanted them to be put in special Ed and feel the feeling I did. I stuck with it, read to my kids everyday and night. When my kids were in school they read 2-3 grades levels ahead of their level. I contribute this to reading to my kids. Fast forward to grandkids. I have one that was in special Ed and a troubled time in school. So I homeschooled him for 2-3 years. I must admit it was a struggle. I knew I needed help to teach him to read and spell. I broke down and bought all about reading. We started with volume two. He worked through it all last year. When he finished, he was so proud of himself that he got through a whole lesson and could spell some words and started to enjoy reading. This year he is back in school. I bought vol.1 spelling and vol.3 reading. Now I just have to get him to sit down to do the work. Thank you for this program. AAR -AAS P.S. I myself am still not a good speller or good at knowing where punctuations go. I am learning sitting along side of teaching my grandson.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Mary! It is so excited to hear that All About Reading and All About Spelling is helping your grandson!

Mary

says:

Great tips! My 5 year old loves funny books and wants to read them over and over!

Lena Welch

says:

Great tips! They match what I covered in my teacher education classes.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This is great to hear, Lena. Thank you!

Katie Fullmer

says:

Thanks for the awesome tips! I love reading and hope to help my kids love it too. I failed with my oldest unfortunately so I am really trying with my youngest 2!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

How old is your oldest, Katie? I ask because I doubt if you have failed. I was 12 before I started to love reading, and one of my children was 15. My mother-in-law was in her 30s!

It is never too late to learn to enjoy reading!

If you would like, I’d love to offer you ideas for helping your oldest learn to enjoy reading more. I’d need to know more though, such as the child’s age, any difficulties with reading, and so on.

Katie Fullmer

says:

Oh he is 18 and moved out of the house. I tried and tried with books for him. He always struggled in school and the main reason I homeschool my younger 8 and 5 year olds. The PS system failed him so miserably. He almost didn’t graduate but got enough support from those at his work that a diploma is a necessary evil today and that it looks better for him with it as he wasn’t HS’d. I thank all of the people who pushed him to help him and he made us so proud when he walked!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so sorry that your adult child had such a hard time of it, Katie. Of course you were very proud when he graduated!

He probably doesn’t want it now, but if he ever desires it you can help him to become skilled enough with reading that he can enjoy it. However, such experiences as you described can burn out a young person so that they avoid learning for at least a few years.

Adata

says:

Librarian here! This is just to say thank you for all these great tips! i will be using your printable guide as a discussion basis for an upcoming meet with the parents of my book club. “How to eat fried worms indeed!” hahaha

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing the printable with parents, Adata! I hope they find it very helpful.

How to Eat Fried Worms was a book I enjoyed as a young reader, and I loved sharing it with my kids as well. The title is kind of like clickbait, but the story is good (but the book does include the eating of worms!).

Linda B

says:

Thank you for the information. My granddaughter is 10 and a fairly decent reader but she hates reading. She’s afraid of not knowing (big words) how to pronounce a word so she just skips over it. Trying to help her understand why she should sound the word out

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Linda,
One thing you can try is having your granddaughter read aloud to you daily for about 15 minutes or so. Use that time to help her to sound out all the words she doesn’t know, and also to require her to read each sentence accurately, with no skipping or guessing. In time with daily practice like this, you will likely see progress with her confidence in attempting to sound out words by herself. Just be sure to sound the words out with her, and not just give her the word.

Another option, however, is to consider working with her in All About Reading. The higher levels focus heavily on helping children know how to attack unfamiliar words with confidence. We have placement tests to help you determine if your granddaughter would benefit from one of the higher levels of All About Reading.

Note that our levels are not grade levels. Level 4 is the final level, and at the end of Level 4 students have the phonics and word attack skills necessary to sound out high school level words, though younger students may not know the meaning of all higher-level words yet. Word attack skills include things like dividing words into syllables, making analogies to other words, sounding out the word with the accent on different word parts, recognizing affixes, etc.