Tips to encourage your child to read

encourage your child to read

How to motivate your child to read

The weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter and our attention is turning to more indoor pursuits. What about curling up with a good book? Will the kids buy this idea and reward us with some peaceful moments?! How to encourage your child to read?

Reading with children is a path to their future success

Reading is one of the most fundamental skills children need to learn to be successful. Research shows us time and again that children who enjoy reading have an easier time understanding and learning other academic subjects. It develops vocabulary, increases attention span, promotes analytical thinking, encourages empathy, and even promotes wellbeing.

Make it fun

However, every student learns and processes information differently, so while some children display a natural love of reading, others may not. A reluctance to read for pleasure is not uncommon and it is definitely not something that as parents we should panic or feel bad about. There’s a wide range of simple strategies that we can use to motivate children to read, the most important one being keeping it light and fun: too much pressure can overshadow the joy of sharing a book together.

Books should make us laugh and smile, transport us to faraway places or transform us momentarily into something different. We need to treat books like they are magical so that children will grow up believing that they are. If we simply make sure reading is fun, rather than frustrating, our children are more likely to develop a love of reading, encouraging better reading habits and making learning easier.

Perhaps that is sometimes easier said than done. So what practical strategies can we employ to try and achieve this? Well first, if your child does need encouragement to read, it helps if you understand why they resist reading in the first place.

Why a child doesn´t want to read

It might be that they genuinely find it difficult. If it is a struggle, children probably won’t find reading interesting or enjoyable. This can also be true of bilingual children who find reading more difficult in one of their languages. It is worth identifying exactly what they struggle with. It might be gaps in their phonogram knowledge, or in their vocabulary, or even dyslexia or another learning challenge. Whatever the cause, it is important to identify and address the obstacle. As it becomes easier, they will enjoy reading much more. In the meantime we can gently encourage and reassure them.

For some kids, reading isn’t hard, but it isn’t interesting either. If this is the case, it is likely that they just haven’t found reading material that motivates them. Think about what they love to do and find reading material that piques their interest. It doesn’t have to be traditional fiction. Magazines, graphic novels, non-fiction books and comics all offer valuable reading material.

How to encourage your child to read

The first step to encouraging good reading habits in kids is reading to them and with them at home from a young age. By reading together often, your child will learn first hand the joys reading can bring. It’s not always easy; it can be difficult to find the time, or to find the right books, or simply to compete with modern technologies and entertainments. Nonetheless, here are some simple and fun ways to help kids along the road to reading for pleasure:

Set a great example:

Act as a role model and read books, newspapers or magazines in front of your child. This shows your child that reading is important and enjoyable.

Make time to read together regularly:

This one can’t be emphasised enough. It’s so important to read aloud to children from a very young age, even if they want to hear the same old book again and again and again (which they all will!). Choose a variety of literature that appeals to your child’s age and interests and make regular, special time to enjoy books together.

And crucially, don’t abandon read-aloud time as your children get older – no one is too old for a great read-aloud. In fact, experts agree that we should continue to read aloud with our children right up until they are in their early teens, even after they have become confident readers. It helps children to enrich their vocabulary and to associate reading with relaxation and special time with you. Even if you have a jam-packed schedule, set aside time for reading, free from pressure.

Create a reading nook:

Make a cosy area for your child to read in, with items like a bean bag, cushions, a light, and of course a variety of books. Even better, let them help you to plan or design it!

Encourage reading everywhere!

Teach your child that reading is more than just books. Practice reading menus, movie names, road signs, recipes, game instructions, and more—show your child that reading is everywhere.

Talk about books, and make connections:

Talk to your child about what they are reading. Ask questions and ask their opinion. This will enhance your child’s comprehension skills, and make reading a family activity. Help them apply what they are reading to everyday life. Making connections between books and your child’s own experience can help increase his or her interest in reading.

Keep lots of reading materials in the house:

Give your child easy access to books and other reading materials at home. This helps him or her understand that reading doesn’t only happen at school—it can happen anywhere. When your child decides they want to read, you want to be sure there’s a book at their fingertips. Make regular use of local libraries or book swaps if you prefer not to buy too many new books.

Introduce lots of different genres:

Explore different genres like mystery, science-fiction, graphic novels, historical fiction, cook-books, biographies, non-fiction and more to ensure you find something that interests them. The more interested your child is in a subject, the more he or she will be excited to read! And don’t forget that kids love humour! Funny books often work a treat with reluctant readers.

Don’t limit them to books:

Audio books and kids magazines are also great ways to encourage a child to read. They are also handy for long journeys!

Try buddy reading:

Buddy reading, with a friend or sibling, can help improve a child’s fluency and make him feel more comfortable with reading on his own. It might also make it more fun for them. Or perhaps a reluctant reader might enjoy reading easy picture books to younger siblings.

Try a subscription box:

The excitement of receiving a parcel or magazine in the post often motivates kids to enjoy reading more. Many book boxes deliver plenty of thrills with tailor-made activities, fun facts, or unique gifts all designed to make reading fun, as well as enabling parents to check comprehension.

Louise is the founder of A Pocketful Of Books, a monthly subscription box that combines handpicked books for children aged 3 to 12 with tailor made activities and gifts that bring each book  to life and encourage curiosity and reading for pleasure. Her blog features lots of great tips and recommended reads.

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