Getting kids excited about reading can be more difficult than it looks, but I think it all comes down to following the few pieces of advice that I am going to talk about today. Each child is different, so it’s important to realize that. Even if your older child(ren) really enjoy reading, your younger one(s) might not. Create an individualized reading plan for each kid rather than trying to fit them all into the same one.
Lead by example.
When your little ones see you reading, they want to read. Leading by example is probably the most powerful way to influence your children and their desire to read.
Find the right books.
Find. The. Right. Books. I cannot stress this enough. No matter how many times you try to get your kiddos to read, it’s not going to happen if the books aren’t their books. You have books, right? The ones you get excited to read… the ones you love thumbing through at the bookstore… those books! They need some, too.
If you’re anything like me, you might cringe when your child picks up a comic book. We have to remember, though, if those books are the ones they’re excited about, let it be. R.L. Stine’s own son only read Garfield comics his whole childhood! Though the author wished he would read different books, he didn’t. He went on to be an English major in college, and loved to read. Your child has many years ahead of him (or her) to read huge, boring books. Let them read the fun ones for now.
Try a series. Once you find the right genre, explore series options. Remember how hooked you were on Nancy Drew or the Babysitters’ Club? Kids these days are hooked, too, just on different books. Try Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Frog and Toad (for the little ones), and any Geronimo Stilton books for the 5-9 age range. If you have teens, try The 5th Wave, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, The Program, and Divergent. They’re all series that are addicting.
Offer an incentive.
Scholastic, Pizza Hut, and many others offer incentives for summer reading programs. See if your local library has a summer reading program, too. You can have your own incentive program at home. Whether it’s an ice cream date after they complete a chapter book, or a points system based on the difficulty of the book, incentives are a wonderful way to get kids excited about reading all year long.
Start a family book club.
A book club can work in many ways. Everyone in the family can read the same book separately, or you can get together every night and read the book together. When your kids are younger, you’ll be reading to them. As they grow and are able to read on their own, have them read to you. Most kids absolutely love when they get to read to their parents. Be sure you’re paying attention when they’re reading. Trust me when I say they will notice if you’re not! Turn your phone off and focus on the story. Talk to them afterwards about your favorite parts. Take turns reading, too.
Make it fun!
Reading is supposed to be fun. Reading is fun. Don’t make it feel like a dreaded chore. Take a trip to the library, let them get their own library card, and go out for snow cones afterwards. Make it a fun adventure that they want to repeat over and over again.
Be a storyteller.
Another way to work on reading skills without actually reading is by telling stories to each other. My kids and I have a great time with this! You start the story, they tell the next part, then you pick up where they left off. This is an activity the whole family can participate in, and the younger kids really have the funniest stories to tell, so it can get pretty crazy at times.
Think outside the box.
If you have a child that is really resistant to reading, consider letting them read catalogs, magazines, etc to get their daily reading in rather than handing them a book. Changing the format of the reading material can have a profound effect on their outlook. You could add audio books to the mix as well, having them read along while they listen to the story.
A word of warning:
Don’t nag your kids if they don’t want to read. Sometimes kids avoid reading because they’re struggling and don’t want to admit it. Sometimes they just aren’t interested, and that’s okay. Don’t ignore the subject, though. Revisit it every few weeks to see if your child is ready to start reading yet. Offer to read books to them, or with them. Taking turns is one way to get struggling readers to feel more comfortable.
What’s your best tip for getting kids excited about reading? Let me know in the comments!