Did you know that, statistically speaking, kids who regularly read for pleasure typically perform better in all school subjects, have higher verbal abilities, exhibit better college readiness and success, and demonstrate stronger civic and cultural engagement in later years?
If you’re not already convinced of the benefits of regular reading in your kiddos, read my post about why your kids should read every day. The benefits are enormous!
That’s all fine and good, you say, but how do I encourage them to read?
I’m so glad you asked! Here are 7 ways you can encourage a love of reading in your kids:
(By the way, I’m drawing on both my experience as a mom and my background in library science.)
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7 Ways to Encourage a Love for Reading
Let them see you read.
I think the #1 way to raise kids who want to read for pleasure is to let them see you read for pleasure! Why would it occur to them to pick up a book if they never see you do it? Modeling is one of the most effective ways to teach, especially in parenting. As the saying goes, “More is caught than taught.” We can’t expect behaviors from our kids that we aren’t willing to engage in ourselves.
It is never too early to start reading to your kids – even as infants! They may not understand all the words, but they will learn to associate reading with the positive emotions of connectedness they feel when you read to them. They will grow up learning from day one that reading is an enjoyable activity.
Be sure to read Why Board Books Rock! to learn why board books are a fantastic place to start and for some of our recommended favorites!
For more information on why you should read to babies, I suggest reading this article from Kidshealth.org.
Incorporate it into your routine.
Reading time doesn’t necessarily have to be structured or formal. Weave it into your normal routines throughout your day. Start the day with devotions, suggest a quiet reading time for your older kids while the little ones nap, and end the day with story time before bed.
Let them choose.
I can’t stress this enough – let them pick out the books that interest them! There’s nothing wrong with a concern for age-appropriateness or wholesome subject matter. But I watched a lot of parents dictate the books their children could pick out during my time in the children’s library, and that is not the way to foster a love of reading. Reading books that interest them is how they’re going to grow up knowing that reading can be a fun, enjoyable experience. Let them pick out the books that excite them (with a little gentle guidance when necessary), and they will be much more eager to read them.
For more tips on helping your kids pick out books, check out this post on How to Find Books Your Kids Will Love
Turn it into a bonding experience.
One of my all-time favorite parenting quotes is, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” This quote means a lot of different things, including some of the points made above, but it points to the importance of reading as a bonding experience. As much as possible, and for as long as they will let you, pull your kids up on your lap and read to them. As I stated in #2, those warm feelings of bonding with you will transfer to the very act of reading.
Have books readily available.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that the way to encourage kids to eat healthy snacks is to make those snacks readily available and keep them in front of them. I think the same wisdom could be applied to encouraging kids to read. Keep books in multiple rooms in places that they can easily find and reach. If your kids are small, don’t keep their books on a high shelf. Keep their books on low shelves, or even better, in baskets or crates. These storage systems make it easier for kids to look through the books and select the one they want. (It’s also easier for them to pick up the books when they’re done, by the way. *thumbs up!*)
Make it fun, not forced
I consider this point to be a summation of all my other points. If your kids have started school, they are already being told what to read and are having to read books they don’t necessarily want to read. Make sure you are balancing all that required reading with pleasurable independent reading at home. You might set time requirements (such as 15 minutes before any TV), which I think is a GREAT idea, but do your best to avoid making that a chore.
The best way to do this is through point #4 – let them choose! Don’t demand that it be fiction or nonfiction, on a certain topic, or in a certain reading level or Lexile score. Let them read what they want to read during their independent reading time. If all their experience with reading is “boring” to them, guess what? They aren’t going to want to do it. So encourage them to read by letting them read whatever it is that makes them excited to read.
If you’re looking for ways to set your kids up for future success (and what parent isn’t?), encouraging a love of reading is one of the best! Read my post about why this activity is so important, and then start implementing these 7 strategies!
(Psst… reading every day isn’t just good for your kids. It’s good for you, too! Be sure to read about what daily reading can do for you!)
- 25 Reasons to Love Your Library
- Why Board Books Rock!
- The Best Brain-Boosting Toys You May be Overlooking
- Aidan’s Favorite Things: A Master List of Toddler Top Picks