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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 Comment

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.

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.

Amber

says:

Great suggestions. Very helpful

Karen

says:

Always important to make sure the reluctant reader doesn’t also have a reading disability like Dyslexia!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, so true, Karen! Too often children aren’t motivated to read because reading is so hard for them.

Cheriley

says:

Start simple and build up gradually, repeating books as often as the child likes to reinforce the positive feeling of accomplishment/can-do-it! Finish each book or page with a high five!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great tips, Cheriley!

Anna Horgan

says:

Thank you

Becky

says:

I need this for my 9 year old who still struggles to read!

Marie-Michele Lanthier

says:

Thank you! Thankfully my 4.75yo really wants to read but stops at the first struggle… Will try some of the tools I’ve read about here!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Marie,
Not-quite 5 years old is still pretty young for reading. Many students, even if they want to read, aren’t developmentally ready to do so at that young age. Before encouraging more motivation for reading, consider making sure that your child has mastered The Top 5 Reading Readiness Skills necessary for success with reading.

Alison O

says:

My 3 kids are an A, a B and a C! We’re really working to get the B and C to love reading as well. They LOVE read aloud but getting them to read on their own…sigh!

Trish

says:

I am a mother to 4 boys and 1 girl. None of my boys like reading and it’s a struggle to get them to even pick a book out!

Noel

says:

This curriculum looks AMAZING! Excited to have found this! The price is very nice! I am hopeful to win for sure!

Renee

says:

My eldest sometimes picks up a book and reads them and sometimes gripes about it. Since we have been on summer break I haven’t been forcing reading everyday. But I am definitely going to use some of the tips listed for this upcoming school year. I really liked the idea of him reading to his little brother. It has happened before and they both seem to enjoy it.

Melissa

says:

My child loves to read but doesn’t know how to yet. She enjoys pretending to read and having me read her books.

Audrey Barber

says:

I work with many students who struggle with reading motivation. These are great tips that I’ll be trying out!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad that these tips will be a help for you in your work with students, Audrey!

Paula V.

says:

Thank you for the great tips.

Amissa

says:

These are great tips! My daughter is struggling to learn how to read but she LOVES being read to.

Meg D

says:

Fantastic tips to help get your child to enjoy reading if they don’t! It’s also good ideas to try with kids who love to read but occasionally need an encouragement idea.

Sam

says:

My son age 13 years ,doesn’t like reading ,he spends more time in playing online games ,watching vlogs,he is now in grade 8 but does not has interest to write and read …..how do I motivate him ….

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sam,
It is very common for people to prefer playing than working. Games and watching videos are playing; reading and writing are, for many people, work.

How much of your free time do you spend reading and writing? One of the best ways to motivate someone else to do anything is to model that behavior yourself. If your son sees that you think reading and writing are important enough to spend your free time doing it, he is more likely to be willing to spend some of his free time doing it as well.

Another idea is to have a portion of each day designated electronics-free. You could say no devices between 3 and 4 pm, or between lunch and dinner, or whatever time frame seems appropriate for you. Your son will likely become bored at first, but that is okay. After being a little bored, he will look for his own ways to spend his time and that can lead to more reading and possibly writing. If your son decides to take up building models, for example, he will find reading books or articles about models helpful. Then he may need to keep notes about what paint colors, techniques, and so on he used with his models so he will be writing too.

Lastly, if people find a task too hard, they will avoid it as much as possible. If your son struggles with reading and writing, he will go out of his way to not do them. If this is the case, the best thing you can do for him to help motivate him to read and write is to make learning to read and write successfully a priority. When they become easy tasks, then he will be able to do them for enjoyment. The easiest way to determine if your child struggles with reading is to have him read aloud to you for 10 or 20 minutes.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have additional questions.

Amber

says:

I’ve heard great things about All About Learning from numerous friends. I would love to win a set to use with my sons. Spelling is where they need the most help.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amber,
Please let me know if you have questions about All About Spelling or would like more information.

Linda

says:

My grandsons don’t like to read right now, but they still like someone to read to them. Would love to win one of The All About Learning Sets.

Ramona

says:

Great tips! I like my kids to read to younger siblings – always works!

Elida

says:

Reading has been a struggle for my Grandson who has ADHD. Hoping this will be an asset.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elida,
I’m sorry your grandson has had a struggle with reading. All About Reading is designed to take the struggle out of learning to read and can help.

Please let me know if you have questions, need help with placement, or anything else.

Zhanna

says:

Such helpful tips for my reluctant reader. Thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Zhanna. Please let me know if you need more tips or have any questions.

Erin H

says:

Funny books for the win!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes! Funny books are so motivating. 😉

Carol

says:

Have in his room a book basket with books he picked himself from the library.

Noelle

says:

So many great ideas here! We love our little reading nook, and my eldest loves reading silly stories to her little sister.

Pat

says:

My grandson does not like to read because he is dyslexic. These tips have some great ideas!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you found these helpful, Pat.

I want to add, however, that one big demotivator for reading is if reading is hard. When reading is difficult there isn’t any enjoyment in it. Helping your grandson with reading so that it can become easy for him will have the biggest impact on his desire to read. We have a Dyslexia Resources page you will find helpful.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information.

Michelle

says:

Good ideas!

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