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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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Miracle

says:

This is a good idea
Thanks to you people

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…

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.

Marisca

says:

These are great tips, and some of which I’ve used with my son who has been more reluctant to read.

Nicolla Machimana

says:

Perfect

Sherri Vanderstel

says:

Thanks for the advice. I have 2 of 5 that don’t like to read…yet…

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Sherri. You may also find our Is the “Matthew Effect” Affecting Your Child’s Desire to Read? blog post helpful as well.

Kristall

says:

These are great tips!

Athena

says:

Thank you for your article. I am very frustrated with my 10 year old twin girls because they both hate reading. Teachers never brought up that they have difficulty. They both read Harry Potter set a couple of times. But I can’t get them to enjoy reading no matter what I tried. I am running out of wits to the point I want to give up.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Athena,
Harry Potter is actually a pretty high-level book for most 10-year-olds; it is generally considered a 5th to 6th grade reading level. So, it may be they are not enjoying reading because they are reading above their comfortable level. Try having them read easier books, maybe even books recommended for ages younger than they are. When reading is easy, it is easier to enjoy it.

And, require them to read every day. Set a timer for 20 minutes and have everyone read quietly for that time, you too. It will model pleasure in reading, and provide them with practice. More practice makes reading easier and easier reading leads to more desire to read. This is the “Matthew Effect” in reading.

Lindiwe

says:

Hi,
Thank you for this platform.
I want to assist my 11 year old Son Leago to reading.
Thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Lindiwe.

Best Nanny Training Institute in Delhi

says:

I’m from Shellprideacademy and I love your article.

Best Nanny Training Institute in India

says:

Nice as well as informative article

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you!

Augustina

says:

She is 10 and don’t like to read and I’m not happy about it at all.. please help me get her to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your child is having trouble with reading, Augustina. Sadly, children often dislike reading when it is hard for them. They have to work so hard to read that there is no room left for enjoyment. If this is the case for your child, if you get her help to make reading easier, it will naturally become an activity that is more enjoyable.

Take a look at our Signs of a Reading Problem and The “No Gaps” Approach to Reading and Spelling blog posts and let me know if you have any questions.

Charlotte Emanuel

says:

Thank you I will give these suggestions a try for my 9 year old.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Charlotte.

S K Mohammed

says:

Thank you very much for creative suggestions..

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any specific concerns or need anything.

Faith

says:

This is great, I will try these methods. My daughter said that reading is boring.

Onireti Hannah Kehinde

says:

How to help my boy to read

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Onireti,
I think you may find our Resources for Teaching at Home helpful for teaching your boy.

Please let me know if you have any specific concerns or questions.

Chinwe

says:

My day daughter finds reading boring.

I Dont live with er currently

How do I help her from a distance

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Chinwe,
Children often find reading boring because they find it hard enough that they can’t just enjoy what they are reading. It’s work, and we all find work boring from time to time.

You can help her by sending her easier books to read so that she won’t have to work so hard to enjoy them. You can also help by ensuring that she is getting the teaching and learning support she needs to learn to read easily and confidently.

I hope this helps some. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Elly

says:

What are the reason/s why teachers, parents and the school must first identify and understand the children’s interest and needs before providing them books to read?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elly,
It is very important for adults to identify a child’s needs and abilities before handing them books. It would be unreasonable to hand the same book to two children when one is struggling to read on a beginning level and the other has been reading chapter books for years. Whatever you chose, it would be unattainably hard for the one or insultingly easy for the other. And taking into consideration a child’s interests can help a reluctant reader be more motivated to read.

Is this the sort of thing you were wanting to know? If not, what did you want to know more about?

Jessica

says:

This is great information. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jessica. Let me know if you have any questions or need more ideas.

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