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Motivation to Read: 10 Tips for Preschoolers

young boy smiling

What Is Motivation to Read?

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.

Quick Check for Motivation to Read

The following signs indicate that your child is motivated to read and understands that reading can be fun.

Print awareness blue check mark

Your child enjoys being read to, at least for short periods of time.

Print awareness purple check mark

Your child pretends to read or write.

Print awareness green check mark

Your child frequently requests read-aloud time and shows a general enthusiasm for books.

10 Easy Ways to Encourage Motivation to Read

The tips below will help you create a reading “culture” in your home that encourages the motivation to read.

Open book with illustration

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.

Bookmarked book

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.

Car graphic

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.

Crayons graphic

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!

Recipe cards

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!

Books lined up

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!

Stacked books

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.

Books in a crate

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.

Happy and sad emojis

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.

Path in a park

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 Big Five Skills

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.

All About Reading Pre-reading

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!

motivation to read for preschoolers pinterest graphic

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11 Sinclair St

says:

My 13 year old hates reading. How can I motivate her to read?

Merry

says: Customer Service

A lot depends on why she doesn’t enjoy reading now–you may need to do some investigating. For example, if reading is still “work” for her–if she has issues with fluency, has gaps in her phonogram knowledge, doesn’t have good word-attack skills for reading larger words, tends to rely on word-guessing strategies, or has vocabulary issues, reading won’t be very fun or interesting. Working on those areas of struggle would be the way to help her in that case.

There are a variety of learning disabilities that can make reading difficult for kids. Our article, Signs of a Reading Problem has links to many possibilities.

If motivation is the issue instead, help her discover a new hobby (or help her develop an existing hobby). If she likes cacti, check out books from the library on cacti. If she likes rocketry or models, get a kit and read the instructions together. Bake from a recipe together. Let her pick out an age-appropriate magazine on a topic that is interesting to her. These types of activities can help children find the motivation to learn to read. This article, 10 Ways to Motivate Kids to Read has ideas you can use.

Sometimes technology gets in the way and can be an issue–reading takes more patience than the instant reward of TV, video, and computer games. Limiting that can help students find other ways to entertain themselves.

Modeling good reading habits can also help with motivation. Have time each day when you read so that she sees how much you value reading.

Reading aloud to a student is also a great way to develop an interest in reading. Choose high-quality stories and novels that appeal to her age and interests. You could start a great book, read several chapters, and then see if she’ll finish it. Or, develop a nightly habit of reading to her before bedtime if you haven’t already. I actually read to my kids throughout highschool, and it was a wonderful time to share conversation together over a good book.

Another idea: select a humorous book that’s easily within his reading ability (not one that’s a “stretch”) and read the first chapter to him. Then stop reading. If she wants to find out what happens next, she’ll have to read it herself!

We have lots of great chapter book reviews on our site if you are looking for materials that might be interesting to her. Has she read the Narnia Chronicles? That might be a good series with adventure to consider. Sonlight has lots of good read-alouds–their choices are often award-winning books.

Also consider audio books. There are a lot of good stories, novels, and plays on CD, and kids can listen while they play with Legos.

I hope this gives you some ideas!

Carol

says:

We love these ideas! Time to get my youngest started on letter recognition, and reading reading reading is a great way to motivate!

Sarah

says:

I love this! Thank you!

Sandy Grant

says:

My 11yo son just finished up AAR Level 4. He has all the tools and can really read almost any word but he is SO slow. He still insists that he “can’t read” even though I tell him he can read just fine he just needs more practice. I have him read for 30 minutes each day but that is all he does. (He is working on Harry Potter- I think it is above his level but he really wants to read it- he only gets through one or two pages read every 30 minutes. ) I don’t want to make it an issue by requiring him to read much longer or making him read a book that I choose, but I am not sure he will ever finish the book at this rate.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sandy,
Reading speed and stamina is something built with time. Requiring him to read daily is one of the best ways to help him become better with reading, so keep that up. However, please be aware that can take time. It can be slow to build reading speed and stamina. I think 30 minutes a day is fine; I’d even be inclined to say as little as 20 minutes a day.

Do you have him read aloud to you at all anymore? Continue to have him read aloud to you for a portion of each day’s reading time. That way you can hear if he is guessing at words, struggling to sound words out, or having other difficulties. You don’t have to follow along at this point, just listen. I would have my kids read aloud to me for 10 minutes or so while I started dinner each afternoon when they were in this stage.

However, I agree that Harry Potter sounds to be above his level. He needs to be making more progress through a book than just a couple pages in 30 minutes. Progress is made when books are on a student’s comfortable to just a bit challenging level. Taking 30 minutes to read just two pages is his frustration level.

Consider getting Harry Potter on audiobook so he can finish it and then require him to read books on a lower level for the time being. If he balks, let him know he is always welcome to read harder books on his own time or can listen to them on audiobook, but while he is doing his reading time each day he needs to read books that he can read more easily so that he can improve. It’s like starting a video game on level 1, even though it’s easy. There are things you have to practice on the lower levels before you are ready to tackle the higher ones.

My youngest child was 11 when she finished All About Reading 4. She, too, needed to work on reading speed and stamina but she didn’t mind starting with easier books. In fact, she was very happy to read series like The Boxcar Children one after another. She read books that were on 3rd to 4th-grade level (Lexile level of about 580, guided reading level around O) for about 6 months and then she started picking up higher level books and having success with them. She is 12 and a half now and reading well on grade level for pleasure, but we are now working on her reading more complex material for information, such as her General Science textbook. It’s an ongoing process toward complete success with reading.

I hope this helps but I am happy to work with your further on this, as much as you need. I’d love to hear how things are going after a few weeks of having him read aloud to you for 10 minutes and then read quietly for the rest of the time, all from books, magazines, and such that are more on his level. Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything.

Jaclynn

says:

Love this! We have been doing storytime 3x a week at the library and now we are discussing themes after reading a book. Then we try to have them tell the story based on the picture only. I’m always looking for more resources to encourage reading for my twins before they start preschool.

Ashley Blasy

says:

I appreciate these tips and am looking forward to trying your pre-reading curriculum out! I think it will be a lot of fun for my daughter and I!

Gail

says:

Excellent blog and great motivation to read guide

Laura

says:

This was very helpful for me as I have a 3 year old definitely showing motivation to learn reading.

Anna

says:

Thank you for all your tips! You guys really partner with us parents and help us succeed!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Awww, you are so welcome, Anna!

Becky

says:

These are great, thank you! I have found that my enthusiasm about a book is contagious to my daughters as well.

Steffen Carter

says:

It’s so awesome that you explained all of this out very well. These 10 tips will definitely help the preschoolers to motivated while reading. Thank you for posting such an informative post.

Jeannie

says:

Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

Nicole Shepherd

says:

Wonderful advice! My son is a motivated reader my daughter is much less so. Thanks for the tips.

Dee Schutte

says:

My preschooler loves “reading” her own stories from picture books, as well copying her older siblings. I too love reading, and feel that the only way to love reading is to read what interests you! Need to teach my preschooler to read still, but happy with her interest already.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dee,
It sounds like your preschooler definitely has “motivation to read” down well! I love that cute stage when they “read” the pictures and tell such unique stories.

Eli

says:

I’ve found that giving my preschool child wordless picture books has actually ENCOURAGED her “reading.” Before she could sound out the words… she gained confidence in “reading” wordless books by herself. She told the story out loud in her own words. But she was sooo proud! I’m embarrassed to admit I never cared for wordless picture books before… and my older child never used them. But my second child struggles with certain sounds & has to really work at her speech. These books were game changers & now she’s confident & excited to learn to read words!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Eli,
I love that wordless pictures books were able to help your child gain so much confidence with being able to tell a story and being ready to learn to read!

Carolyn

says:

This is such an important list for new parents—these suggestions pave the way to engaged early readers!!

Kerry Fritz

says:

Starting prereading soon. Great tips

Kelsey

says:

Great tips, my guy loves to be read to as well as “read” to his brother and I!

Donald Errol Knight

says:

Lots of practical information and downloads!!

Tracey

says:

Great tips! My preschooler is excited to learn to read. We are started Pre Reading soon.

Kelsey

says:

Yes to all of this! Reading with voices might feel silly but the kids LOVE it! And the modelling part it so important. It’s so easy to get caught up in our screens nowadays. I have to remember to let my kids “catch me” reading. We have a 3 month old so I’ve gotten in the habit of reading while I’m nursing instead of using my phone because I want them to know it’s important to me too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kelsey,
I got SO MUCH reading done each time I had a nursing baby. Sigh. I miss those days (sometimes, I don’t miss being up all night 😉). Enjoy your little one and enjoy your extra reading!

Sharen

says:

Nice article. Thanks for list of books.

Sarah R

says:

Getting my son to read has proven to be more challenging than with my daughter. Until I learned about “All about Reading” program. My son loves the little books. And keeping the lessons short and sweet has definitely made it more fun.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

This is great to hear, Sarah! I’m so happy that All About Reading has helped your son have success with reading. Keep up the great work!

Kallie Meyer

says:

This information in very helpful!

Priyanga

says:

Nice article. Reading has become a daily fun activity for my three year old daughter. Thanks for the wonderful articles on how to improve reading skills.

April

says:

We have books everywhere in our home and I read to my kids everyday (occasionally my husband fills in). I let my kids pick out books to buy at Goodwill, too.

Ginny

says:

I purchased All About Reading level 1 after using a different program without success. My 7 year old’s reading has improved so much this year. He is even becoming more confident in his ability.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m am so pleased to hear this, Ginny! I especially liked reading that his becoming a confident reader. That is important.

Michele Rae Goguen

says:

I’m struggling along with my 7 yr old son. He loves being read to, but cannot seem to grasp reading. He’s mastered alphabet, phonics (mostly, I think!) and he does some online pre-reading skills like a champ (matching words, spelling, etc.). But when it comes to the actual books, he comes to a screeching halt. We had his eyes checked & he now wears glasses. I homeschool him and I am starting to feel like a failure!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michele,
I am so sorry that your son is struggling with reading. I promise you aren’t a failure! Approximately 34% of students struggle to learn to read and spell. My first two children learned to read easily, but even with that experience, my next three children all struggled for years before having success with it. Some kids just need a different approach.

Have you considered trying All About Reading? It was designed especially to take the struggle out of learning to read. Also, All About Reading has a one-year guarantee. If you purchase it directly from us, you can use it for up to a year and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child, return it for a full refund.

Here are some ways that All About Reading can help kids with learning difficulties:

– 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 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 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, the author, 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.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Andrea

says:

Reading aloud to my young children helps me create a calm in an otherwise chaotic day. It helps me to love them and nurture them and give them 100% of me in addition to helping them to become motivated readers. The library is our happy place!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

So well put, Andrea! So well put. Thank you.

Sherry

says:

Both of my kids love reading! These are great tips.

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