How to Motivate Your Child to Read
Quick poll: Which category is your child in?
- LOVES to read!
- Could take it or leave it.
- 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?
“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.
“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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Have your reluctant reader read easy picture books to younger siblings. This provides excellent practice, yet it doesn’t feel like work.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
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