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5 Ways to Encourage Young People to Read

Read to children

Read to children

1. Set an Example

James Holzhauer Is currently the number two Jeopardy champion of all time. He was on the program for more than three weeks and has earned over one million dollars. He is well-versed in many subjects and says his vast wealth of knowledge comes from reading children’s literature. If you devour every book you can find and are a walking encyclopedia, this will be the best incentive for others. When I was younger, I always answered more questions in Vacation Bible School and won the most gifts at Tupperware parties. I knew the answers to the questions because I was always reading.

If you desire your children to be well-versed and enjoy reading, the first thing you should do is to be a living example in front of them. My grandmother was always reading the newspaper, her Sunday school lessons, the Bible, or Bible-related material. She only had a sixth-grade education, but you would never know it by the vast knowledge she displayed. Reading in front of or to your children or grandchildren at home a well as volunteering to read to your child's class at school will also set an example to be followed.

Library books

Library books

2. Visit the Library and Book Mobile

Encourage your children and teens to utilize their school library as well as libraries in your city or town. Make sure they have a library card and teach the importance of returning items on time and in good condition my two youngest grandchildren obtained their library cards in the summer of 2019 at the ages of seven and eight. They should be able to check out three or four items at once, and it's understandable they will want to get video games, CDs and DVDs. This is part of today's culture but emphasize to them to be sure and check out books as well. Be on the lookout for discontinued reading material that may be sold for under $1.00 or less. There also may be a library that gives away free. This is a great way to increase your personal book supply. I have increased my book collection by close to 20 books this past year thanks to local libraries.

If you live in rural area, there may be a book mobile that comes through town. I remember walking three blocks down a country road and up a major highway to check out books as a teen. The book mobile came once a month and parked at the Post Office. Sadly, many times I was the only one waiting to get something to read, but I enjoyed this fun way to obtain new literature. You may also want to invest in comic books and graphic novels which are popular among teens and young adults.


3. Have Books Available

When I was a little girl, my mother and grandma bought me and my brothers about 20 of the Little Golden Books. We also had hardback and soft-copy nursery rhyme and fairy tales as well a number of books with Bible stories. As a teen, I worked at the local elementary school one summer and came across a box of discontinued books they were throwing away. I found quite a few that were interesting, including one bestseller by Maya Angelou, "I know why the caged bird sings." When my grandma shopped at a particular grocery store, I walked across the street to a thrift store and found something to read each time. I have also found gems for my grandchildren by checking out Goodwill and other discount stores. Purchase bookshelves and begin a home library, so that reading is always a part of your everyday life. The Bible and Bible storybooks are always good to have on hand.

Dre Bowles reading

Dre Bowles reading

4. Give Incentives

When my children were in elementary school, they had fun entering the Book It contests sponsored by Pizza Hut. Each time they read a specific number of age-appropriate books, they received a coupon for a free personal pizza. All three of them eventually were reading so much they got a free pizza each month they participated. My daughter homeschools her three children, and they have just been enrolled in Book It, which begins in October. Free food is a great incentive for kids. You might also want to check with your local library to see if they have a summer reading program. When I enrolled my children, I participated in the adult reading, and twice I won a prize. You can motivate your children and or teens to read by offering them personal incentives for completing a certain number of books. You might also have them give you an oral book review to see what they have retained.

Ty and Jayla Bowles on library computers

Ty and Jayla Bowles on library computers

5. Offer Encouragement

Encourage your children and or teen to participate in Sunday school, church programs, and school plays where they must read and or memorize a part. Include the children when having a family reunion or celebrating an anniversary. Allow them to speak or read a poem or something else they have written. When I was growing up, we read in school, church and at home. We were encouraged by all the adults around us to gain all the knowledge we could. As African-Americans, we had a special incentive related to reading. We were told how slaves were forbidden to learn to read, and some died because of it. Later, I had a pastor who mentioned an old saying that if you wanted to hide something from black folk put it in a book. This encouraged me greatly, and I passed it on to my children and now my grandchildren. My youngest son was reading on a second grade level when he entered kindergarten because the entire family encouraged him. I am so proud of my oldest grandson who at age 11 will sit down and read an entire book if he is not interrupted, just as I did at that age.

When You Can't Go to the Library

Sometimes (like during a Coronavirus pandemic) children can't check out books from either the local or school libraries. What can be done is encouraging them to re-read books they have at home, magazines or Sunday school lessons. Find appropriate websites where they can read online and use Kindle. You can still purchase books from stores and thrift stores but by all means, do be careful. Continue to order online and make books the gifts you give for birthdays and special occasions. Homeschoolers can go to the Pizza Hut book it website by clicking on the link and sign up children to ream rewards.

Lasting memories

The man in the photo was my husband of 40 years who passed away on March 7 2021. I am thankful that he read to our grandchildren and they will always have those memories. Please make memories of your own by reading to children and encouraging them to read for themselves.

  • Home | The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program
    BOOK IT! motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza. The program is simple, flexible, fun and free to use in your classroom! BOOK IT! was created in 1984 and currently reaches more than 14

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cheryl E Preston


John Welford from Barlestone, Leicestershire on May 08, 2019:

Well said! I am a professional librarian (now retired) and am currently helping to keep my local public library open by volunteering and recruiting other volunteers.

It is always good to see parents bring their young children to the library and encourage them to read and take books home with them.

Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on May 04, 2019:

Thank you

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 04, 2019:

Cheryl, I think your suggestions are great. When my children were very young my mother worked next to a discount book manufacturer, and we had numerous books that I read to them. When they got old enough to read they did a lot of reading also. As adults they have continued to read all the time.

Your article gives many great ways to find books at afordable prices and ways to encourage children to read. Keeping them off the computer games to read is important for their education. Excellent article Cheryl!

Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on May 04, 2019:

Thanks for sharing. My brothers hated reading as well.

Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on May 03, 2019:

Good one. I know the tip about using incentives would work a lot as I have seen it do so.

When we were young, my kid sister hated reading and it took my parents adopting this method alongside a few others to see any results.