A child who has motivation to read wants to learn to read. He has gotten the message that reading is fun and thinks “It’s something I want to do soon!” He’s eager and willing.
Children who are motivated to read have discovered delight between the covers of books. And this motivation is so important when the time comes to begin reading instruction! Learning to read is a gradual, ongoing process, and having that enthusiasm for books helps get kids over any hurdles that may arise.
Motivation to read may seem like a simple thing, but if your child doesn’t have that internal desire, teaching him to read will be quite challenging. Let’s do a quick assessment to see if your child has it.
The following signs indicate that your child is motivated to read and understands that reading can be fun.
Your child enjoys being read to, at least for short periods of time.
Your child pretends to read or write.
Your child frequently requests read-aloud time and shows a general enthusiasm for books.
The tips below will help you create a reading “culture” in your home that encourages the motivation to read.
Start early! Reading with your babies and toddlers helps them connect books with love and comfort. Try board books, books with high contrast illustrations, and books with interesting textures.
Read it again. Young children enjoy anticipating what comes next. Use this to your child’s advantage. When stories contain predictable text or rhymes, your child may be able to finish the sentences. And when you read the same story repeatedly, he may be able to recite part of the story from memory.
Go “on location.” Reading becomes an adventure when you can connect a book to a real place. Reading about animals? Visit a farm or a zoo. Reading about frogs? Visit a pond. Too far for a visit? Find pictures online to help your child feel connected to what you’re reading about.
Let them wiggle! Some kids get uncomfortable when they have to sit still—they just want to go, go, go! But read-alouds are important for wigglers too, so let them wiggle! Coloring, kneading playdough, or building with LEGO bricks can keep hands busy while you read. Interactive books help, too!
Set an example. Show your child that you also read. Motivation to read is most effectively developed when it is modeled. Let your child see that reading is important, whether it’s reading a book for pleasure, reading to learn, or reading a recipe to make dinner!
Head to the library. Libraries are often filled with resources for children—summer reading programs, story times, craft classes, and of course, shelves and shelves of books! If you want to surround your child with books, there’s no better place than the library. Download our free library lists for great picture book ideas!
Build your own library. The more books you have at home, the more opportunities your child will have to pick one up and read. Don’t want to break the bank? Rummage sales, library book sales, resale shops, and bookstore clearance racks are great places to find affordable books.
Make books accessible. If you store books in a visible, easy-to-reach spot, it’s more likely your child will pick one up and start exploring it. Keep books on a low bookshelf or in a basket on the floor, or allow your child to choose her own special spot just for her books.
Bring stories to life. Capture your child’s attention and make reading fun by reading with expression. Try using different voices for different characters. Exaggerate the rhythm of the text. Let your face and your voice show what the characters are feeling.
Change it up! If you normally read in the same place each day, don’t hesitate to try out a new location from time to time. When the weather is nice, read on the front porch or a bench at the park. Create a reading nook to make story time extra special.
Motivation to read is one of the five critical skills for reading readiness that we call the Big Five Skills. The other four skills are:
If you’re ready to tackle the rest of the Big Five Skills, be sure to check out the All About Reading Pre-reading program. Your student will enjoy special games, crafts, and story time read-alouds, and you will love the way your student effortlessly learns essential pre-reading skills.
Do you have more ideas for encouraging motivation to read? What do you do with your own preschoolers and kindergarteners? Post in the comments below!