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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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Janette

says:

My granddaughter hated to read. I the books the school was sending home for her to read were too hard for her. We had many days of tears and tantrums. Now that we’ve started All About Reading level 1, she’s starting to talk more about wanting to read and even gets excited when I tell her she gets to read a new story in he AAR reader. She’s excited about trying to catch up with her peers in school. I think it’s important to make sure the material isn’t too hard because then it’s frustrating and discouraging.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great point, Janette! Yes, when reading is too hard it is discouraging, frustrating, and definitely not enjoyable.

Shaymom

says:

Sometimes I give my kid something 🧁 when he get all his spelling words

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rewards can be motivating!

Catherine N

says:

Thanks so much for the info, l will try this with my daughter

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Catherine.

Abigail

says:

I am homeschooling my 8 yr. old granddaughter. She does have some dyslexia, but she hated reading with AAR. I was discouraged because I thought this was a great reading program. Well, we finally took her to get her vision checked. She needed reading glasses! With the new glasses, her whole attitude and ability for reading has zoomed! It is like teaching a new child. NEVER forget the physical causes for reading problems.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing this, Abigail! Yes, vision problems must be addressed before a student can have success with reading. We Real Moms, Real Kids: Vision Problems blog post that discusses this as well.

Sandra ShorterCalloo

says:

Interesting idea that I will try this year with my grade

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’d love to hear how it goes, this year, Sandra.

Jo, Australia

says:

Here is another question… what if the child does not enjoy being read to? We have 7 children, and the first six loved sitting on the couch reading book after book together, and also a chapter book that was read in serial to the whole family during dishes time. Easy books, harder ones, illustrated, non-fiction, her choice – no matter what we tried, she would fuss and not want to be there. She read alone, but did not want to share the experience. She is 19 now and does not know why this was. Any ideas?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Good question, Jo, and one I understand. I personally struggled with listening to books as a child and even a young adult. I only began to enjoy audiobooks when I started listening to them a lot as my children listened to them.

With a child that does not enjoy being read to, the first thing is to ensure the book being read is at the right level. A child that has trouble with listening comprehension may need to listen to books that seem easy or even below the child’s own reading level until they get better at listening. Also, try a wide range of genres and subject matters. Some kids just prefer non-fiction, for example.

Our Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still blog post can be helpful for many children as well.

Indrani Govender

says:

Want reading tips for classroom

Abby Kohn

says:

my 10 year old son absolutely LOVES books – because he listens to a lot of them. He loves it so much that he started filming and editing and posting audiobook reviews so other kids could find books to love like he does! I HIGHLY recommend audiobooks – he even listens to them on our Alexa! And if you go to his YouTube channel you can see him reviewing lots of books for kids – he’s so excited about them I think any kids would want get caught up in his infectious energy. Here’s the link if you want to check it out : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC_rQ6X6rPpUvP6C_iAC7JQ

Mary

says:

I love the information it gives me hope in my child thank God for this

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad to hear this was encouraging for you, Mary.

Pamela

says:

Thank you these are helpful tips.

K.saraswathi rao

says:

Good motivational way of explaining thank you I can surely follow ur tips.Thank you so much.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome! I’m very happy to hear you found this helpful.

Sylvia Shambo

says:

I tell my daughter if she reads well then she can assist me in teaching her younger sister and other kids. That alone increased her eagerness in reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a lovely way to increase motivation to learn to read, Sylvia! Thank you for sharing this.

Barbara

says:

Thank you so much this will help with Motivating my twins to read. They are 5 years one tiwn can read but the other one having hard time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this will help, Barbara. Many 5-year-olds find reading more difficult but keeping it fun and lighthearted works wonders!

Opelong

says:

Hello

Michelle

says:

I would love to share your post. My friend writes for middle grades and goes into schools until covid and does puppet shows and anti bullying. Would you like to contact her here in South Africa and exchange thoughts. Perhaps you can share your blog etc. She heads a huge Indie group in South Africa. Michelle

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
We would love for your to share our blog with others! Thank you.

Karen Macready

says:

My granddaughter has s processing disorder and you say there’s no such thing well she goes to a reading specialist twice a week and she’s doing much better so don’t be advising people that some reading disorders don’t exists cause they do so if you don’t know something then just say you don’t

Tanush

says:

Any class is there for read and writing classes for my son he is not interested to write (Kannada)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your son is not interested in writing, Tanush. You may find our 10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner blog post helpful.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Karen,
We are well aware that learning disabilities exist! We have many blog posts that give information on specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, and dysgraphia.

Under the heading “Reading is hard!” above, this blog post says, “It’s even possible he has dyslexia or another learning challenge,” acknowledging that a lack of motivation for reading can be due to a learning disability. We never want to imply or even hint that learning challenges do not exist!

Please, what part of this blog post led you to conclude that we are advising people that some reading disorders do not exist? We will want to rewrite that section to be clear that is not true at all.

Miracle

says:

This is a good idea
Thanks to you people

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Miracle.

Kate

says:

My son is going to be 8 next week and can’t read he has a problem reading rhe letters of the words and his b is a d and so on but then his reading teacher yelled at him and asked him if he wanted to be dumb cause if he dont get in-lazy he would be and now that I’m homeschooling him I can’t get him to read…what do I do I love reading and I love reading to the kids and his older brother is autistic and reading now he says he is dumb and just can’t do but I know he can …. Im lost at where to go what to do…

Sylvia Shambo

says:

I suggest you start by always making him know he is smart regardless of what the teacher or anyone else said before. Tell him he is smart always and make him say it out loud to himself every single day “I AM SMART”. It will eventually sink in and give him a push. Make him feel special and important. Try not to show him your frustration with his struggle in reading, while you also praise him for every little progress he makes. Children love affirmation

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so sorry your son had to experience this, Kate! What a terrible thing to do to a child! As a mom of one child that learned easily and two children that struggled greatly due to dyslexia, it breaks my heart when such difficulties are written off as “lazy”. These kids are NOT lazy! They have to work harder to make less progress than others.

First, watch this short video, Failure is Not an Option. In this video, Marie Rippel tells her son’s story. He is severely dyslexic and being told by experts that he would never learn to read led directly to her creating All About Reading and All About Spelling.

All About Reading (AAR) was specifically designed to take the struggle out of learning to read. Here are some of the ways it does this:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit, and will include 3 simple steps: review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching.

– Incremental lessons. AAR breaks every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teaches the lessons in a logical order, carrying the students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on the one the student has already mastered.

AAR is multisensory. Research has shown that when a child is taught through all three pathways (visual, auditory, and tactile) at the same time, a method known as simultaneous multisensory instruction, he will learn significantly more than when taught only through his strongest pathway.

AAR uses specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the All About Reading letter tiles or Letter Tile app can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept.

AAR is scripted, so you can concentrate on your child. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage.

AAR has built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning difficulties generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR, your child will have a Reading Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that your child needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that your child already knows.

AAR has lots of fluency practice. One of the things that Marie noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for kids who struggle to gain fluency. AAR has fluency sheets or a story to be read with every lesson, so children can practice reading smoothly with expression and confidence.

All About Reading has a one-year guarantee. You can try it for up to a year from the purchase date, and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child, return it for a full refund of the purchase price even if it is used.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions, need help with placement, or need more information.

Aminat kikelomo

says:

My child falls into the 3rd category,am getting fed up,, please advice me on what to do

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your child is struggling, Aminat. Typically, we really dislike things that are unpleasant for us. If reading is hard, painful, or even impossible work for a student, it really isn’t surprising that they will really dislike it. Most people really dislike something that is hard, painful, or impossible to accomplish!

The way to counter this is to address the root of what is making reading so difficult for your child. Most often that means going back to the beginning and making sure there are no gaps in his or her knowledge or skills. The “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling can help with this. It may also mean discovering if your child may have Signs of a Reading Problem or other learning struggles. If he or she does, here are 10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner.

I hope this helps some.

Emory

says:

wait what

Muhammad Hanif

says:

Thanks to all

Patricia

says:

My child no longer likes studying most especially in this period of covid

Suzan

says:

My child definitely fits into the first category still, but recently I’ve noticed her enthusiasm growing. She’s at the beginning of level 2 and her confidence is blossoming. I know our hard work is paying off. She’s especially fond of reading to her younger brother, and he’s wanting to “read” in return! I love all of the suggestions here!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so excited to hear that your child is growing in confidence with reading, Suzan! Way to go!

anne marie

says:

I love the idea of creating a cozy place to read! That actually motivates me, not just my children!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Anne Marie! I want a cozy book nook for myself (although I may share with my children).

Sarah

says:

We like tandem reading in our house. Right now we are doing Saxon Phonics but looking into AAR. My husband takes my reluctant reader, who gets so mad at reading lessons, and has him read the words that he can from Harry Potter. It helps his enjoyment of reading a lot.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We agree, Sarah. We call tandem reading buddy reading, but the concept is the same. Reading together is helpful in so many ways!

Doreen

says:

This would be a perfect gift for my niece who struggles with reading.

Brandi M Schwartz

says:

Great tips. Number 3 has been a tough one for us! My daughter’s comprehension surpasses her ability. Finding a good balance of interest/ability completely changes her attitude about reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such a great point, Brandi! When things are hard to read, they aren’t enjoyable to read. I’m glad to hear you have found positive changes in her attitude about reading when you find a good balance between her interests and abilities!

Nicolla Machimana

says:

Ready to apply

Tara

says:

Great list! I’ve also found that listening to books is fun too!

Katrina

says:

These are great ideas and some I’ve used with my son who really dislikes reading.