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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 “I want to do that soon!” A child who is motivated to read is eager and willing, and this motivation is so important when it’s time to begin reading instruction! Enthusiasm for books helps get kids over any hurdles that may arise while they are learning to read.

Quick Check for Motivation to Read

How do you know if your young child is motivated to learn to read? Here are the signs.

  • 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.

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

What do you do to encourage the motivation to read with your young child? Please share in the comments below and we’ll add your idea to our readers’ tips box.

Motivational Tips Recommended by Our Readers

  • Take advantage of storytime at the library. (Recommended by Jaclynn via blog comment)
  • Show your child that you’re excited about reading! Enthusiasm is contagious! (Recommended by Becky via blog comment)
  • Let your child “read” her own story using the pictures in a picture book. (Recommended by Dee S. via blog comment)
  • Wordless picture books are a great way to encourage “reading”! (Recommended by Eli via blog comment)
  • The library is our happy place! (Recommended by Andrea via blog comment)
  • Give characters different voices as you read! (Recommended by Nina via blog comment)
  • Let your child “write” his own book and “read” it to you! (Recommended by Mary Katherine via blog comment)
  • Minimize screen time and maximize book time! (Recommended by Jamie via blog comment)
  • Encourage “pretending” to read! (Recommended by Kayla A. via blog comment)
  • Find books on topics your child is already interested in. (Recommended by Becky B. via blog comment.)

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Melanie Lustgarten

says:

I love this, and I totally agree with the suggestion of finding books that they are interested in. My smallest can rarely be bothered with books, but certain books will find him cuddling up and begging for more.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, following a student’s interests is so important, Melanie!

Kimberly

says:

Good reminder to read in different locations or to seek out a place to read that goes with the theme of the book. They will remember that for a long time. My kids also love reading to their stuffed animals and reading in blanket forts.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Reading in blanket forts sounds like a lot of fun, Kimberly!

Ambreen

says:

Very interesting advice. Thanks

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Ambreen.

Brittany

says:

I have loved doing all about reading with my child this year!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear, Brittany! Thank you.

Brittany

says:

I have loved doing all about reading with my child this year! It has made a big difference in bringing fun into school time. I plan to do all about reading next year for both my kids.

Kristal

says:

This is fantastic article, just what I needed at just the right time! My child adores books and will soon be ready to learn how to read with All About Learning Press ” Pre- Reader”. We are going to have fun reading and do the Ziggy Crafts.
Thanks again All About Learning Press!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kristal. It’s wonderful to hear that the Pre-reading Level is working well for your child!

Jinny James

says:

I am always amazed at the number of resources that you give to the readers on a weekly basis.. thank you so much,
Jane

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jane! It’s always great to hear that the resources are appreciated!

Karina whitaker

says:

This is my first year starting AAR and we are loving it so far ! Thank you for all of these wonderful tips, I am so excited to see how his reading is improved. 💛

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s great to hear that All About Reading is working out well for you so far, Karina! Thank you!

Fi

says:

Thanks for the tips. I’m going to try these with my nearly 9.y.o. grandson who doesn’t like reading and is way behind. He also has learning problems, especially speed of processing.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry to hear your grandson is struggling, Fi. I hope you find these tips helpful. You may find our 10 Tips for Reaching Your Struggling Learner blog post helpful as well.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please let me know. I’m happy to help!

Amanda

says:

I love all of these ideas! My 4 year old son loves books and especially when I rotate new ones in book holders.

Carolyn

says:

Great tips! Marking books available in multiple locations throughout my home has been a game changer.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love having books in almost every room of my home, Carolyn. I actively decorate with books at times!

Elisheva (Mila) Shilman

says:

Thanks for your tips and materials, I use them to help my son!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Mila!

Claire Masters

says:

I really like your tip about bringing the stories to life by adding fun activities while reading. I want to encourage my three-year-old to start reading books at her age. I’ve heard that there are books that also have character plushies you can buy so it may be a good idea to purchase some of those to help the child connect with the story.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Claire,
I think books that come with plushies or other toys are such a great idea and very motivating for many children!

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