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How to Stimulate an Interest in Reading Books for Enjoyment

Updated on June 26, 2017
Paul Kuehn profile image

Since retirement, Paul likes reading classical English literature. British romantic classics from the 19th century are his favorites.

Reading for Enjoyment

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Reading for Enjoyment Before Retirement

For much of my life, I did not have a great interest in reading for enjoyment.

Although reading comic books was a pleasure in grade school, I never really went to the library to borrow many books. Playing outside with my friends was more important and enjoyable.

My middle and high school years were spent on farms. Mom and dad had a lot of books in their library, but I can only remember using it one summer to read some of the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe.

Reading became a chore and not very pleasant when I was attending high school and college. Since I was majoring in the sciences, taking notes and outlining what I read made reading seem like a drudgery. With the exception of All Quiet on the Western Front, I disliked other novels assigned in my history and English classes.

When I was in college, there was a ton of required reading in a Contemporary British and American Literature course which I took during my sophomore year. Because I never learned to read for pleasure when younger, I disliked the course and did not get much out of it.

Up until my retirement from federal government work service in 2007, I did hardly any reading for enjoyment. Watching sports on TV and listening to talk radio was much more enjoyable.

Reading for Enjoyment After Retirement

When I retired from government work in 2007, you probably could have counted on two hands the number of books and novels I had read in my life for pleasure.

My reading habits changed, however, after I started teaching English in Thailand. Inspired by my students and teaching colleagues, I started reading the works of Mark Twain and taught my students how to read extracts from books like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

I also started reading classic British novels of the 19th century. In books by Dickens and the Bronte sisters, I could readily identify with characters and plots. Reading was now a lot of fun.

Out of curiosity, I also started reading some of the books in my parents' bookcase which I could still remember from childhood. These included Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. I am now hooked on reading books for pleasure and plan on reading as many of the classics as I can.


How to Stimulate an Interest in Reading for Enjoyment

I hope readers will not make my mistakes and instead begin reading for pleasure at a much earlier age. There are different good ways to stimulate an interest in reading. They are as follow.

1. Tell Stories to Children at an Early Age.

All kids like listening to interesting and exciting stories. At the age of two or three or perhaps younger, children are ready to listen to fairy tales or to look at pictures while stories are being told. I employed this strategy when teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to fifth-graders in Thailand. It greatly stimulated an interest in reading in my classes.

2. Encourage Kids to Be Curious and Imaginative.

People who love reading for pleasure do it to satisfy their curiosity and imagination. Words on a page are translated into images to fulfill curiosity and imagination. At the age of one or two, you could give kids books with incomplete pictures and encourage them to finish drawing the pictures and tell a story.

3. Let Children Have Many Playmates.

In their play, kids will role play stories based on their experiences. This play will later encourage children to read books.

4. Encourage Kids to Develop Interests and Hobbies.

If children cultivate interests and hobbies when young, they will more likely want to read books. These books might be about sports, music, drawing or collections.

5. Try New Experiences When Young

When children are young, they should be given the opportunity to try new experiences. These experiences could be in the form of playing a sport, learning a musical instrument, being active in churches or participating in the Cub Scouts, Brownies or other clubs.

At a later age, young people should have the experience of working during the summer or doing domestic and foreign travel. Based on their own experiences, young people will be curious to read about the experiences of others.

6. Keep a Diary.

By keeping a diary in which you record the daily activities in your life, you most probably will want to read the diaries of other people.

7. Have Friends and Talk with People.

Through conversations with friends, you will be exposed to new ideas and books which will satisfy your curiosity and imagination.

8. Watching Movies

There are many movies on television and in the cinema which are based on books. By watching a good movie, you could be stimulated to read the book from which the movie is adapted.


© 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn

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    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much for your comments. Yes, encouraging kids to read is the key.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Reading is still a pleasure for me. Great ideas for kids and encouraging kids to read is the key to not to forget how to hold a book. I like your ideas.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Peggy, what you say is absolutely correct. I do remember the stories that were read to me when I was very young. Thanks for commenting!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      My parents read to us when we were children and we all developed a great fondness for reading. Books were my favorite type of gift! Getting kids to enjoy reading at an early age helps them throughout their schooling years and all of their lives for that matter.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hi, Mary!

      Getting books here in Udonthani is also more difficult that when I lived in Bangkok. I am sure it would be a good to invest in a Kindle.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Your comments are always appreciated, Larry!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 4 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great tips!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Paul,

      I want to get a Kindle as getting books here in Brazil is difficult. My husband has read the same books for the past 8 years. He is adamant though that he doesn't want to get a Kindle even though it would open up a world of books to him.

      Even hardcore readers who love actual books have been swayed, and put a Kindle in his hands, saying how much they love it, he doesn't want to change. Therefore he will continue reading the same books we brought with us.

      When my budget allows it, I will get one for myself.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I will have to get a Kindle and give it a try. Thanks for the comment and I am happy you like my tips.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 months ago

      Hi Paul, reading on a kindle does not feel like reading online, although it's not exactly like holding a book in your hand, which I enjoy. I also like taking notes and have boxes of index cards from books read over maybe 20 or 30 years! With the Kindle, you can make "notes" and see what others have kept as notes too. You can also flick through the notes, which is a lot easier than trying to decipher notes written 20 years ago. Great tips for encouraging reading.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hi Mary,

      I appreciate your comments about reading very much. Do you prefer paperbacks to hardbacks or do you use a Kindle for reading?

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for commenting. I tried reading books online but didn't like the experience. I like thumbing through the pages of a paperback and making notes as I read.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 months ago

      I always loved reading and I sometimes borrowed as many as 9 books a week from the library. That was before the internet. I have a kindle with many books on it that I carry with me on the train.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Paul,

      Like yourself, I too didn't begin to enjoy reading until later in life. I too was more interested in playing outside and hanging out with friends.

      Now I enjoy it.

      Your ideas to encourage kids to start reading early are helpful and many I used whilst raising my own.