8 Effective Ways to Get a Child to Love Reading

Encouraging kids to love books starts early

girl smiling with books, loves reading
Getting kids to love reading starts early. JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Have you ever seen kids who bury their noses in books and wondered, how did their parents get them to love reading so much? There isn't really any secret formula, but there are definitely some things parents can do to encourage a love of books in their children. These easy daily habits can nurture a love of reading and get kids to view sitting down with a book as a fun activity rather than a chore.

  1. Read to her--and with her. One of the most important things you can do to encourage a love of reading in kids is to read books yourself. Find whatever interests you, whether it's a good mystery or love story or a literary classic that you never had a chance to tackle when you were in school, and sit down next to your child while she reads her book. And if your child is a beginning reader, find a great kids' book that she's interested in and read to her every day, either after dinner or as part of her nightly bedtime routine.
  2. Make regular trips to the library and bookstore. When you treat a trip to the library or bookstore like a fun family outing and show your excitement about the books you'll find there, your child will pick up on this and be more likely to copy your attitude. Treat trips to get books like a fun family outing and your child will follow your example.
  3. Read everything you can, all around you. Whether it's store signs, flyers, packaged food in the supermarket, or plaques about exhibits in museums, make a game out of reading anything in your environment. Before you know it, your child will be reading everything in sight and will be proud of his newfound abilities.
  1. Tap into what he loves. Is your child into Star Wars? Is he crazy about comic books? Don't discount the value of graphic novels, books about favorite kid characters, and yes, even comic books. Nurture his love of books by allowing him to read the things he likes, and then slowly introduce things he'll have to eventually master, like chapter books. And if your child is interested, let him watch movies that the books were based on or vice-versa.
  1. Get your child into binge-reading. We've all experienced the allure of binge-watching, where you feel the need to click on the next episode of a TV series to find out what happens next. Serial books like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society are wonderful page-turners for school-age kids, and will have her wanting to know what happens in the next book.
  2. Have regular discussions about books. Get your child into the habit of analyzing and reviewing the books he reads. Talk about what you liked or didn't like about the characters, the plot, and the ending. Did anything surprise him? Would he have written something differently if he'd been the author? Which were his favorite characters and why?
  3. Cut down the screen time. It's almost impossible these days to cut out screens altogether, especially since many schools are having kids use tablets, E-readers and computers in school and at home. But TV, video games, and texting with friends are activities that you can control and restrict to certain times in the day. Limit kids' time with screens, take electronic devices out of your child's bedroom, and replace the time they'd spend peering at a screen with a book. Bonus: Studies show that reducing kids' screen time may improve their health and grades.
  1. Help her if she's having trouble. Keep an eye out for signs that your child may be having trouble with reading, such as reversing letters in words (like "b" and "d") or reversing words ("nap" and "pan," for instance), showing a dislike of books, or not being able to blend sounds together to read words out loud.

And most of all, don't worry if your child isn't reading as fast or as much as some of his peers. While some kids catch the reading bug in the first grade, others may not develop their true passion for books until later. Keep setting an example by reading and showing your love of books, continue to give him lots of encouragement and different reading materials, and wait patiently.

(It's like when kids suddenly decide they love a certain food after refusing it 100 times.) While not every child will turn into an avid bookworm, your child will likely find his stride and develop a love of books on his own schedule.

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