A fondness of reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.
Encouraging children to read can be a joy and a struggle at the same time. Arm yourself with these simple tips to get your children to become more interested in reading for pleasure and to sustain a love for reading.
Tips on How to Encourage Children to Read
1 - In General
- Present a reading atmosphere that is relaxed and positive. Children will not like to read if they are pressured to do so. Small tweaks such a dedicated reading area with a variety of interesting reading pieces, cozy seating, and adequate lighting will help entice them to read.
- Show children that you also read. Tell them stories or show them your favorite books, even if they are comic books.
- Make it a group thing. Make a reading wall where students or family members can show off their reading prowess. It can be a tuck board with drawings of young children about what they learned from the books, book quotes, a recommended reading list, and so on.
- Do not limit reading to just books. Give children access to age-appropriate magazines, short stories, comic books, encyclopedia, and the likes.
- Make reading something to look forward to and something rewarding. When adults show excitement about reading, children will most likely follow suit. Aside from showing excitement during reading time, presenting a little token like a stamp or snack after can help.
- Alternatively, you can make reading achievement a visual thing.
Younger children can have a sticker card, a bingo card or even a reading passport where you can put a symbol for every book read.
Older children can have a book list. Every time the children complete it, celebrate the achievement with a special treat like ice cream, movies, or going to the park – something you do not do or give them all the time.
- Go to libraries and bookshops together.
- Encourage children of every age to write their own books or write their own endings to certain stories. This will not just show their comprehension, imagination, and writing skills, it will also allow them to experience what it is like to be an author – this will give them a greater appreciation for stories and other written work.
- Allow the children to pick the books they want to read. Sure, you know what is appropriate for their age and that is great. However, give them a chance to pick from the shelf at home, in the library or even in the bookstore.
Early on, you can tell them which books are okay for them to read then let them pick from the book types of genres. Giving them the power of choice is a great motivator.
- Show interest in the reading materials that the child is interested in. Talk about the books they read but do it as organically as possible. It can be something like, “Oh, this is like the book that you read… which one is that again?” or “Hey, I heard your favorite author is releasing a new book. Would you like to get it when it is available?”
- Some children have favorite authors and if they do, encourage them to write to the author to express gratitude, ask questions, or make suggestions.
With the advent of technology, many authors now have emails and social media accounts, and they welcome interactions with fans. Many write back and reply to their fans – wouldn’t that be awesome for children, too?
2 - For Younger Children
- Make reading a bonding activity. Make reading aloud a habit. It just takes 15 minutes each day and you can choose a convenient time to do so. Making reading together a part of your routine will also lessen the chances of the child asking you to read during hours when you should be doing other things.
- Put reading materials at the child’s eye level. Remember, if they cannot see it or reach for it, they will not be interested in reading it.
- Ask simple questions after you are finished reading. Something about the characters, the plot or even the colors would be fine. Remember to just ask and not pressure the child to answer.
- Depending on the child’s age, you can allow them to read with you by letting them pick out words or guess what will happen next based on pictures. The more interactive a reading time is, the better.
- Changing up your voice and allowing yourself to sound a little silly during story time will catch and sustain the child’s attention. It is also your chance to show the child the proper tone of voice if you are reading books where characters show emotions.
- Encourage reading more things than just books. It can be the restaurant menu, road signs, television guides, grocery list, rules in game boards or apps, etc.
- Show delight when young children try to read anything on their own. Stop yourself from correcting them right away when they mispronounce or misread something. Recognize the effort by giving a positive message.
Something like “Wow! You read that on your own, that’s great! That is indeed (insert correct pronunciation here)” and follow with a smile.
- Give space for technology. These days, e-readers and books with built-in narration are available.
Although it is best that you read to the child, allowing them to experience technology is not going to hurt as long as it does not replace you as a parent.
- Label things in your classroom or home (or at least the child’s room) with pictures next to the words. You will see that children will be able to recognize more words earlier and this helps with packing away, too!
- Extend reading to fun activities at home. Depending on the child’s interest, age and skill level, you may want to have drawing, painting, or worksheets come after a reading activity. This is a good comprehension check and it is fun, too.
You can also create mini plays or do something related to the book that you read. For example, you can cook pancakes after reading Eric Carle’s “Pancakes, Pancakes!” or plant a seed after reading “The Tiny Seed”.
3 - For Older Children
- Present reading challenges that they can complete within a reasonable amount of time. It can be something like a list of classic children’s books or even 30 days for reading a book.
Make the challenges interactive and even display their accomplishments on social media. They will feel proud of themselves while you get them to read more.
- If a movie about the book is coming out, ask them to read the book first and you will treat them to the movie, complete with snacks!
This approach worked well with so many children and teens who read the Harry Potter series in order to get movie passes. This could work on the comic book franchises, too.
- If children get really interested in a book series and would want items related to the books (e.g. clothes, toys, accessories), use these as rewards for every book in the series that they read.
- Avoid asking older children to read books that they are already required to read for school.
- Instead of asking for a book report or synopsis as a post-reading activity, ask the child to do something creative about the story like a puppet show, a song, stop motion video, and so on. Invite other family members to watch, too.
Remember to celebrate and not criticize, okay?
- Ask children to help you out by reading recipes as you cook or ask them to read you the listing of shows on television.
- Encourage children to swap books they have read with classmates or neighbors.
- If kids are more gadget crazy, have them read eBooks instead.
- Match every hour of video game play with an hour of reading.
- If you stumble upon your child’s favorite actors or musical artist’s favorite books, let your child know what their idols like to read.
- Make road trips less boring with reading a bingo game that makes kids read road signs or store names.
These are just a few tips and tricks that could help get children hooked on reading.
Sure, they take time, effort and some amount of resources but raising a reader is really worth it! Whether you are a teacher or a parent, these tips will prove useful to you.