Are you struggling to get your child interested in reading? Whether you have a newborn or a school-age kid that’s learning to read, it’s never too early or too late to encourage a love of reading.
Reading is an essential skill for everyday life and crucial to your child’s academic success, but it can also be an enjoyable experience. But some kids just aren’t interested. And with screen time increasing (especially during the pandemic), it can be even harder to get children into screen-free activities like reading.
Still, there are plenty of ways to get your child into reading that you can start right now.
How to Encourage Kids to Read
The best way to encourage kids to read is to help them see that it’s actually fun! Even in infancy, it’s important to talk to your baby, recite nursery rhymes, and read aloud to them. All of these can improve language skills and promote reading habits as your child gets older.
Older children who are struggling to read may just need some fun reading activities (scavenger hunts, reading challenges, and even board games are all great options). This can boost their confidence and improve reading comprehension.
Whatever stage you’re in, here are some easy ideas for how to encourage reading habits in kids.
1. Make time to read together every day.
One of the best things you can do to encourage good reading habits is to read with your child every day. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), even reading to your child in early infancy gives them a boost in early literacy skills that can last for years. So while it might feel a little silly reading to your newborn at first, you’re actually helping build reading skills for kindergarten when you make the time to read together.
While reading alone can boost literacy skills and encourage a love of reading, the quality of shared reading time is important too. For example, reading age-appropriate stories will help to keep your child’s interest and prevent frustration. You can also spend time talking with your child about what you read or see in the pictures.
Even after your child begins to read independently, reading together every day is a great ritual to continue. Many school-age children love hearing stories read to them, and it can be a fun (and screen-free) way to spend time together. It also gives you an opportunity to model fluent reading and talk about any new words you might come across.
2. Visit the library regularly.
Libraries are a fantastic (and totally free!) resource for encouraging reading habits in children. Make visiting your local library a weekly ritual for your family and you might just find that your kids are excited to read. Not only will they be able to pick out books to take home, but most libraries also have fun reading activities to participate in too.
Many libraries have storytimes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers that can be a lot of fun for kids and parents. And reading challenges are another great way to motivate kids to read since usually they’re given a prize each time they complete a set amount of days.
If your child still isn’t thrilled to go to the library, it might help to let them explore the music, games, and movies at the library. Then they can check out some books, too!
3. Encourage them pursue their own interests.
Your child might not always have the most literary taste in books. But that’s okay! Let them explore the library or bookstore and figure out what they like. Whether they’re reading chapter books, comic books, non-fiction, or even puzzle books doesn’t matter. The important thing is that they’re reading.
Graphic novels and children’s magazines can be a great way to build literacy skills, especially if you have an older child who struggles with reading. That’s because these often have fewer words but more pictures to help your child pick up on the story. This will give them a big boost in confidence that can encourage a love of reading.
4. Set an example.
Maybe you’re an avid reader, but you normally wait for the kids to go to bed before you sit down with a book. Unfortunately, you’re missing a great opportunity to be a reading role model for your kids. Children learn behaviors from their parents, and if they see you reading frequently, they’ll probably pick it up too.
So whenever you have some down time throughout the day, get comfortable and crack open that book you’ve been reading. Keep plenty of books and magazines around the house. You might be surprised to find your 8 year old reading your latest copy of National Geographic.
Normalize reading and your kids will learn that it’s not just work—it can be fun and relaxing.
5. Limit screen time.
In this day and age, we know it’s tough to limit screen time. Tablets, phones, and video game systems are ubiquitous. And, yes—the kids will whine when you tell them it’s time to shut off the TV. But limiting screen time to just a couple of hours a day is important for your child’s development. Plus, this can motivate kids to get creative and find something else to do. (Hint: Reading is one option.)
One study found that watching TV negatively affected preschool children’s phonological memory, which is linked to reading performance. Phonological memory is a person’s ability to retain information long enough to commit it to their long-term memory.
So if you’re working on improving reading comprehension skills with your child, take a look at how much screen time they’re getting and consider cutting back.
The most important thing to do to encourage kids to read is to make it fun. Learning to read can be especially frustrating for some kids, so just take it one step at a time. By keeping things light and making reading an everyday activity, you can help to encourage a life-long love of reading in your kids.
If you’re looking for educational stories to read with your child, check out our very own Nogginsland Super Star Stories!
“Hi! My name is Lydia and I’m a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and education. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and worked as a teacher and tutor before deciding to stay home full-time with my two young children. As a mom, I’m passionate about early childhood education and am always looking for fun and practical ways to teach my kids at home.”