Many older children start to see reading as a chore once they have electronics that compete for their free time.
Schools and parents often set aside time for kids to read, but this does not mean the kids necessarily enjoy reading. In fact, sometimes attempts to get your child to read can lead to arguments and negative feelings about reading.
“Parents who facilitate positive book and reading experiences set the groundwork for a love of books, reading, and learning,” explains Dana Reisboard, PhD, a professor at the College of Human Services at Widener University in Pennsylvania. According to Reisboard, these are the most effective strategies for parents to use: 1. Read with your child frequently. 2. Choose books that cater to your child’s interests. 3. Let your child see you reading. 4. Discuss what you’re reading with your child. 5. Encourage your child to read aloud to you. 6. Give your child positive feedback when they do read.
Why Reading Is Important for Kids
Reading can help children in many different ways. It can help them academically, give them a greater understanding of the world, and improve their mental health.
“Reading with your child fosters an appreciation for books, strengthens the parent-child bond, and provides valuable quality time,” says Dr. Reisboard. According to Dr. Reisboard, literacy skills and reading go hand-in-hand. Developing letter awareness, word consciousness, and the alphabetic principle can be done by reading to your child. In addition, reading with your child fosters an appreciation for books, strengthens the parent-child bond, and provides valuable quality time.
According to Claire Cameron, PhD, who is the associate professor and director of the Early Childhood and Childhood EdM and PhD programs in the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), reading is the basis for success in many other subjects.
Additionally, children who are stronger readers tend to have better academic achievement and performance, according to Dr. Cameron. This can include other indicators of school success, such as teacher-reported ratings. Moreover, early reading skills are connected to graduation rates. “Nearly 20% of children who read below grade level at grade 3 don’t graduate from high school,” she says.
“Whereas only 4% of proficient readers at grade 3 fail to graduate on time.”
More than 1 in 5 children who cannot read at their grade level by 3rd grade will not graduate from high school, while only 4% of those who can read proficiently at that grade will not graduate on time.
Connection to Society
Mentioning a specific research that supports the claim According to a research done by Molly Ness, PhD, which shows that reading has many benefits that go beyond literacy, including a stronger emotional intelligence and a longer lifespan. Dr. Ness is a literacy specialist and associate professor in childhood education at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education in New York City.
Hirokazu Yoshikawa, PhD, explains that reading can also foster curiosity and connection about the world around us. He says that reading is a critical social activity that rests at the foundation of our society and its future. Additionally, reading enhances vocabulary, builds background knowledge, and promotes understanding of others.
Mental Health Benefits
According to Dr. Ness, reading has many benefits including activating parts of the brain associated with language, lowering blood pressure, and increasing pleasure-related neurochemicals.
Sharing books with your child can help to improve your relationship while also teaching them new things. This is according to Sophie Degener, who is a literacy expert and former elementary school teacher.
18 Genius Ways to Make Kids Love Reading
1. Swap Ariana Grande for an audiobook.
Because audiobooks expose children to proper reading techniques, they can serve as an effective tool in teaching kids how to read.
2. Model reading love.
“Children take cues from adults,” says Schwartz. “When you grow up surrounded by junk food, you like junk food. When you grow up surrounded by books, you like books.” Annette Uvena, a mom of two reluctant readers, shares her excitement often: “I make sure they see me reading, but I also talk to them about the book. I’ll excitedly point out something that reminds me of the story, because I want them to see that books bring me joy and will bring them joy too.”
3. Theme your nook.
“Kids love forts, so just draping two chairs with a blanket can do the trick,” says Christina Droskoski, a grade-school reading specialist and mother of three. Droskoski suggests working with your child to come up with a theme for their reading nook, like a beach theme, pirate’s cove, rain forest, or spaceship. “But working with your child to make it an area where she’d want to hang out makes reading time even more appealing.”
4. Help bring books to life.
Dr. Carlsson-Paige says that finding activities related to books that can be done in real life extends the experience. For example, if a 3-year-old loves The Three Little Pigs, the child might enjoy seeing some real pigs. Another activity might be to go to the planetarium after reading a book about stars. Another option is to take a bookcation, which is a vacation to a place that is related to a book, such as London after reading Harry Potter or New York City after reading Stuart Little.
5. Celebrate writers.
To celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2, the National Education Association created Read Across America Day. On this day, schools participate in reading competitions, games, and parties. Some possibilities:
- And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (his first book)
- The King’s Stilts
- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet
6. Read the book, then watch the movie.
A great way to motivate reluctant readers is to have them read a classic that’s been turned into a movie, such as Bridge to Terabithia; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After they’ve read the book, host a family movie night to watch the film version.
7. Stash books all over.
“Surrounding kids with books at an early age gets them hooked,” says Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., a child development expert at Syracuse University, in New York. Curate a basket to reflect the current season—they’ll be excited to see new titles, and tying them to what’s going on that month will bolster their interest. No holiday on the horizon? Hit the library for topics your kid is currently digging. Leave them out (even on the floor of the car!) and they will pick them up. “Don’t keep books up on shelves,” says Dr. Honig. “Let little kids touch them, carry them around, even take waterproof ones into the bath.”
8. Read aloud—even when they don’t need it.
“Reading aloud has many benefits, both educational and social,” says Dr. Carlsson-Paige. She explains that children learn to read best and develop a love for reading when they hear many stories over many years in a meaningful context, such as when a parent reads to them. Additionally, listening to someone read aloud can give tired readers a break. Dr. Carlsson-Paige recommends some read-aloud books for different age groups, such as C. S. Lewis, E. B. White, and Roald Dahl. Finally, she mentions some websites, such as GuysRead.com and ReadingRockets.org, where you can find book recommendations based on age and interests.
9. Turn your library visits into adventures.
Before you go to the library, speak to the librarian at the front desk to see what kind of activities are happening that day. Look at the library’s website beforehand as well, so you know what events are coming up. “If you take your kid to the library for a building project, for example, they will associate the library with being fun. That’s a good thing,” says Droskoski. Make sure each of your children has their own library card too. “It will help them take ownership of the reading experience,” she adds.
10. Reread the same books to little ones.
Studies suggest that reading to children at a young age can help them develop language skills. At first, kids are mostly interested in the pictures. They learn to turn the pages and eventually realize that the story is the same each time. These are all key pre-reading skills. “Kids love rhymes because they learn what comes next and can chime in.” Titles to try:
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? byBill Martin, Jr.
- The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
- Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen
11. Conquer the log.
Reading aloud together be counted toward reading time. This can be much more relaxed for the whole family than yelling at everyone to get their individual reading done.
12. Get cooking.
It is noted by Droskoski that when ingredients and instructions are read slowly and multiple times, comprehension is improved. Get a cookbook from the library with your child (Cooking Class and Kid Chef are both great options) and let them pick a meal to make with you. Droskoski suggests that you “Ask her to read the recipe out loud while you chop,” then switch roles. Incorporating writing into play will also bolster reading skills, so have her write out a menu.
13. Start a club.
It only requires two individuals to read the same book for a book club to be formed. Talk to your child about getting a friend involved, or make it a bonding experience between mother and child. Set a date for when to meet and where, along with some questions to get the conversation flowing (such as what was the best part, who was your favorite character, etc.). Dr. Carlsson-Paige, who is a part of a book club with her granddaughter, states that “Reading is a social activity, and book clubs are a great way to share the experience with friends or family.”
14. Ask questions.
This makes the text more enjoyable for children by helping them to understand it better. “It’s not about grilling, it’s about checking in,” says Dr. Carlsson-Paige. Ask which characters he likes best, what he thinks will happen next, what he would do in that situation. “If you over-focus on letters and sounds at the expense of the story, children aren’t as likely to become good readers,” she explains. “If you’re a good reader, you read fast—you’re not looking at every letter, you’re reading for meaning, which is what fuels the reading process.”
15. Turn to books at tough times.
I know how hard that can be, so I want you to have this book. Love, Mommy.'” “Adding books to any passion or struggle in a child’s life can help them,” says Schwartz. If a child is getting a puppy, add a book about it. If they are starting a new school, add a book about it. “You’re saying that books can help when they’re feeling sad, or excited, or anything,” she notes. You can have the “book fairy” drop it off with a note saying something like, “I heard you’re going to be a big sister. I know how hard that can be, so I want you to have this book. Love, Mommy.” Love, the Book Fairy.'” Some scenario-specific suggestions:
- Much Bigger Than Martin, by Steven Kellogg, for sibling rivalry
- Penguin Problems, by Jory John, for a grumpy, negative attitude
- Swimmy, by Leo Lionni, for dealing with adversity and bullies
- The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst, for the loss of a pet
- Where Do They Go? by Julia Alvarez, for coping with death
16. Get a little goofy.
An headlamp would be a great present for an older reader so they can enjoy staying up past bedtime. It would serve as a reminder that reading is a privilege and something to be enjoyed. You could also borrow the headlamp for winter grilling!
17. Count on magazines.
“Magazines can teach kids that information that is current is valuable,” Schwartz says. He suggest that parents create a ritual around getting a new issue for their child. If a child gets Highlights, for example, they might always go first to the hidden-picture page.
18. Give the gift that keeps them reading.
When your mother-in-law asks about what kind of birthday presents you would like, suggest books! Have your kids give them to their friends too, with an inscription that tells the recipient why this book is special for her. “You’re teaching your child that books are a way to connect with others,” says Schwartz.