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How to Motivate Your Kids to Read

Amber Brandt  |  September 20, 2020

In our digital age, many parents feel like they’re losing the battle of screens and video games with their kids. And when you add on the possibility that a child has difficulty reading or simply isn’t overly interested in books, nurturing a love of reading can feel insurmountable. But there are lots of practical ways to remove the frustration or pushback and help your child discover motivation (and maybe even excitement!) to read.

Indulge their interests. Seek out books on topics your child is already interested in – dinosaurs, fairies, cars, even video game guides or tip magazines. And even if it feels like frivolous reading to you, graphic novels can be a great gateway vehicle to a love of reading… just start finding ways to nurture topics they love.

Stack the deck in their favor. Think about putting books in environments where there is little else to do, like the car. With less immediate activities vying for your child’s attention, they’ll be much more likely to voluntarily read. You can also keep a small basket of books near the kitchen counter where they could be easily grabbed alongside a snack. (Remember reading the cereal box while you ate breakfast? Proximity is key.)

Incentives can be okay. While many experts typically advise against incentivizing your child to read, a good compromise is to offer a slightly later bedtime if that time is spent reading. This will help your child relax and transition to sleep, while getting their nose in a book.

Read on the move. Vocabulary-building activities and letter recognition count as reading too, because every skill works together to make your child a better reader. Encourage your little one to call out letters as he identifies them on street signs or challenge your middle schooler to read them aloud before you do. If you’re driving somewhere you’re unfamiliar with, turn off the audio for turn-by-turn directions and have your child read them to you as you go.

Introduce books that are part of a series. Any book your child wants to read is great, but if you can suggest books that are part of a trilogy or series, there’s a chance your child will get caught up in the story and want to read them all.

Listening is also legal. A book doesn’t have to be read with the eyes only – the ears do a great job, too. Every time you read aloud to your child, you’re improving their grasp of language, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Audio books and children’s learning podcasts are also great resources for developing comprehension, imagination, and ultimately a lifelong love of reading.