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How to Get a Child to Love Reading: Ideas for Preschool Through Teen Years

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Sharing his hands-on experience raising four kids, one with mild dyslexia and another with dyscalculia.

The love of reading and how to promote reading - Ideas to encourage children to develop a lifelong love for reading at a young age

The love of reading and how to promote reading - Ideas to encourage children to develop a lifelong love for reading at a young age

Ideas to Encourage Reading

We all know that reading is an important part of the child’s development to build independence and self-confidence. However, parents who want their children to read face extra challenges today from games and other gadgets that make reading a lost art. These distractions are giving many parents real headaches. So, how do you encourage your children to read for pleasure?

Below are some ideas that might encourage the children to read, either for pleasure or for their school work. The aim is to get them excited about reading.

I have put my suggestions under various age groups as well as under general, for easy reference. Some of these ideas may be applicable to the other age groups, as well.

Tips to Encourage Children to Read for Pleasure: From Pre-Birth to 2 Years

  • Start Early. It is never too early to start reading to your child. In fact, you can even start when you are still pregnant. It may look weird talking alone to your tummy, but do not worry, as your baby will be comforted and will remember your voice. When your baby is born, and when you read to him, the little one will associate your voice to the quieting ambiance of the womb. Parents should continue reading to babies after birth, progressing from just you reading, to getting them to ask you questions.
  • Reading Aloud During Pregnancy. The study by Fifer WP, Moon CM. on the role of the mother's voice in the brain function of a newborn, confirmed that a mother’s voice is the most intense and important sound to the baby. Every time you talk your voice resonates throughout your body. Your baby picks out your speech and becomes familiar with it. The study by Professor Christine Moon at Pacific Lutheran University also found that babies start to absorb language as early as 10 weeks before birth. Hence, reading aloud during pregnancy is one of the activities to encourage reading. You can explore stories such as Three Little Pigs with the baby. When they are out in the real world, read the same books again. This gives your baby a good start for language development and if you are too tired, you can try the audio books.
  • Try Book-Time Play-Time, i.e. combine “reading” with playing such as during bathtime. So buy cloth books, bath books, and sturdy board books.
  • Read Bedtime Stories — Read Aloud Time. Get into the habit of reading to your child at bedtime. Read aloud. Reread his favorite books again and again.

    Children will learn the story and grasp the concept of reading. Not only will you be teaching him the pleasure of reading, but you are also bonding with your child. Sometimes, the child can get excited and you cannot stop reading or singing! Studies have shown that singing and reading for 2-year-olds can prevent future reading problems, give them a large vocabulary of words, and develop them into early readers.

  • Get Your Child to Participate. When you read to him, get him to participate and be engaged in the story by pointing, cooing, singing, or speaking whenever he can. Expose him to the many vocabularies in the story. As you read, ask him questions. For example, ask him what picture he saw in the book. Encourage him by saying "Yes, that is right. It is a dog. A bulldog." Ask him to repeat words after you—this way, you introduce new words and build his confidence. This will be useful as he gets older, as he will find it easier to read later.
  • Sing Songs or nursery rhymes that have repetitive words. Your child will be able to pick up and grasp these repetitive words easily and this will build up his vocabulary.
  • Reading During Feeding Times. Reading or describing what’s on the cereal box, food packets, or whatever on the kitchen or dinner table is one way for toddlers to enjoy both feeding and reading time. It can also save you time doing both feeding and reading in one sitting! You can also read while waiting at the doctor's office or when at the grocery store.
  • Interactive Children's Books with textures and sounds, lift-the-flaps, and pop-ups that let your toddler hear, touch, prod, and jab will boost their hand-eye coordination and understanding of the relationship between two things i.e. cause and effect.
  • Keeping Books on Low Shelves gives children easy access to these books so they don't have to wait for you.
How to encourage reading when kids can be distracted by so many things? Just take it easy if you want to encourage your child to read for pleasure

How to encourage reading when kids can be distracted by so many things? Just take it easy if you want to encourage your child to read for pleasure

  • Watch Disney Junior on Disney Channel. Although watching television is seen as not encouraging children to read, Disney Junior on Disney Channel, however, is a good program that introduces some rich vocabulary to children. The many activities and colors will stimulate the young mind and encourage them to learn and read. My grandnieces (1.5 - 2 years old) are classic examples of the benefits of watching this channel. It sometimes amazes us at their correct usage of words and their ability to identify and name an object. As a result of this, they are able to read simple story books. Studies by Linebarger and Walker (2005. Infants’ and toddlers’ television viewing and language outcomes. Am. Behav. Sci. 48 624–645) showed that they can actually acquire more vocabulary.

“As parents, the most important thing we can do is read to our children early and often. Reading is the path to success in school and life. When children learn to love books, they learn to love learning"

— Laura Bush

Tips to Encourage Kids to Read: For Preschoolers Ages 2 to 5

These are some of the ways on how to make reading interesting and hence, encourage the kids to read:

  • Go On an Outing. Take your child to the bird park, the zoo, circus, shopping, or anything that excites him. Get books about these places and discuss with your child what he saw during these outings.
  • Read the Menu. When you are eating at the restaurant or at his favorite food outlet, read the menu together. Describe the many choices and the prices for the items. This encourages him to want to learn more.
  • Read the Labels and Signage. You don't need books to read to your kids. You can read and talk about the words on the breakfast cereal box, the drawings, numbers, or photos, and even the signage. Your child will then realize how text is already a part of daily life.
  • Label Stuff. Labeling their stuff is one of the activities to get your child interested in reading. Get him to write his name on all his books and belongings including his toys and any presents that he is giving.
  • Visit the Local Library. Children enjoy storytelling and in most libraries this session is available. Check out your nearest bookshop as sometimes they do this too. When you are at the library let the kids choose and pick one of the books to borrow.
  • Read Every Day. Reading to the kids and with the kids, should be done on a regular basis. Some prefer bedtime while others may choose after dinner. Whichever is the preference, make it on a regular basis. You can also get your child to use the story info to make a prediction on what will happen next.

In the beginning, a child will try different ways to write and spell. Parents must encourage the child's writing so they will love putting their thoughts and ideas on paper. Provide them with spelling help when they ask for it.

  • Write With Your Kid. They will learn about writing when they watch you write. Explain what you wrote and how others understand the writing.
  • Write Outdoors. You can extend the fun part of learning when you are outdoors by writing letters and words in the sand and snow.
  • Be a Role Model. Let your child see you reading for pleasure, for work, for research, for doing D.I.Y., for cooking, etc as they learn from what they observe. This reinforces in the child's mind that reading is important to get things done.
  • Use a Tablet or Phone. If you have a tablet such as an iPad or even a phone, download reading, and educational software for kids such as ABCMouse. Let them have fun learning through this medium. Kids will have no problem understanding and using a touchscreen.
Encouraging children to read by giving books they enjoy reading will slowly develop their love for reading.

Encouraging children to read by giving books they enjoy reading will slowly develop their love for reading.

Ways to Encourage Reading: Children Ages 6 to 12 years

  • Get the Movie Book. If your kids love a particular movie, get him the book
  • Travel. If you are traveling, get the kids to read up on places of interest, things to do, and any events at that destination.
  • Hang a Message Board. Let them write and leave a message to others via this message board in the kitchen or even at the entrance area near the living room.
  • Encourage Them to Write Notes or Emails to friends and relatives.
  • Foster Hobbies. Get them to read about their hobbies or things they like to do.
  • Making Friends with other kids who enjoy reading books for pleasure, should be encouraged.
  • Visit Bookstores for any events like a book signing by authors
  • Have Them Read to Their Younger Brother or Sister. Kids like to show off and reading to their younger brother, sister, neighbors or cousins, will boost their ego.
  • Chapter Books. Introduce your 7 to 10-year-old to chapter books that tell stories through prose and are divided into short chapters. So, it is easier and more digestible, especially if they have a short attention span. Chapter books have a simple and linear storyline with lots of illustrations. Examples of chapter books are Charlotte's Web and for the older kid, Harry Potter, and other famous children's literature.
  • Comic Books. Another medium for children's reading tools is comic books or graphic novels. If he or she is struggling to pick up a book, then comic books with colorful illustrations and small snippets of text can appeal to them, especially if they love television, are visual learners, and are struggling readers. It is the link between their picture books and their future full-length novels.
  • Join the Virtual Book Club. The pandemic had somehow helped launch several virtual book clubs including clubs for kids. Check them out online and get them to interact with other kids from other parts of town or countries. Your kid may want to read what his/her newfound friends are enthusiastic about or start sharing books.
  • Read Road Signs. Get them to read all the road signs, billboards, and signage when you are out driving. This is one good example of reading material that is not a book.
  • Practice Real-Life Reading. When they are old enough, you can share and discuss utility bills, phone and credit card bills, forms for tax or insurance, claim forms, and other agreements and registrations.
Get your teens to read reviews is another great way to encourage reading amongst teens

Get your teens to read reviews is another great way to encourage reading amongst teens

Encouraging Lifetime Reading Habits: For Teens

  • Read Reviews. Encourage your teenage kids to read reviews of books, music, movies, and even gadgets & software before buying. It doesn't matter how long they set aside time to do this as long as it is quality reading.
  • Read and Write Blogs. Get them to write their own blogs and read their friend's blogs. If they hate the idea of keeping a diary, then ask them to put it in the form of a blog. You can ask them to write reviews of movies, music, books, or gadgets in their blog. Get them to express their opinions by giving comments on blogs and on other approved websites.
  • Follow Celebrities. Your teens will be following their favorite film stars, singers, sports personalities, or even politicians! They start to identify with these celebrities. Encourage them to research and read biographies or articles on them.
  • Keep Books Visible. Keep your books, newspapers, or magazines in places that all your kids can see and use them.
  • Getting a Subscription to a Magazine (that is approved by you) can be a reward for having achieved some agreed milestone.
  • Have Fun by doing crossword puzzles or playing scrabble with your kids.
  • Prepare for a Holiday. Get your teens to research on the Internet and plan the itineraries, hotel accommodation, transport schedules, places to visit and eat, etc.
  • Research Hobbies,, D.I.Y., Cars, Gadgets, Etc. The internet is the best and cheapest source of information for additional info on their hobbies, favorite cars, D.I.Y issues, gadgets, etc. Encourage them to explore and enrich their knowledge in their respective area of interest.
  • Go to Sports Sites, Gossip Sites, Fashion Sites. If your teens love reading these sites, it's okay. It is not a waste of time. It will develop their skills in reading statistics, comparison tables, reviews, comments, etc. They will also learn to use various ways to get additional info, learn to analyze and conclude. Encourage them since love for reading is best nurtured by reading something that they are interested in otherwise they turn to something else that you may not approve of.

Youth Literacy Rates

The world literacy rate for teenagers aged 15+ is 86%. The lowest is West & Central Africa at 61%.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, almost no children aged 7 to 14 have foundational reading and numeracy skills.

- From UNICEF Data published April 2021 (based on 23 countries with available data)

How to Encourage a Love of Reading

  • Share What You Read. Share with your children the books, magazines, or anything interesting that you just read. Tell them of your favorite books when you were young.
  • Listen to Your Kids. When you are with the kids, listen to them and answer their questions. If you don't know the answer, check together on the net, or from the reference books that you have.
  • Set a Good Example by reading books or magazines in front of your kids. If they see that you enjoyed them, they will follow suit.
  • Fun Time. Reading may not necessarily be a serious activity. Read aloud riddles, funny stories, or even jokes. This will show them that books can be funny besides giving information, telling stories, giving recipes, and 'DIY info'. You can ask them to compile a book of their favorite jokes.
  • Reading Aloud. Reading aloud will also expose them to the correct pronunciation, rising and falling intonation, and improve their reading skills. Explain to them why correct pronunciation and stress are important to convey what they meant to say. Likewise, on why the rising and falling intonation are important.
  • Never Force Them. Lastly, never force a child to do things that he dislikes, like finishing a book that he doesn't like.
Read-aloud time; Some of the ideas on how to read to your child

Read-aloud time; Some of the ideas on how to read to your child

Benefits of Children Reading at an Early Age

We know the importance of reading at an early age. But it also has added benefits:

  • Speech Skills. A child is able to reinforce or form the basic sounds of a particular word by listening to your reading. Most of them will be able to talk at an earlier age.
  • Grasp of Language. They have a better grasp of the language and vocabulary. Hence, they are able to express themselves better, resulting in better communication skills.
  • Higher Aptitude for Learning. Children who can read at an early age will have a higher aptitude for learning and hopefully achieve academic excellence.
  • Better Thinking Skills. From listening to your reading, or through the child's reading, he can visualize the ideas and concepts behind the story. He can relate the many incidents within the story and come out with his conclusion. This ability to think and apply logic is an important asset for a child.
  • Better Concentration. Reading to a child or a child reading by himself will result in a longer attention span, hence a better concentration and self-discipline.
  • Reading is Fun and Not a Chore. Your child will learn that reading can be fun and is not a chore. Once he knows this, then given a choice of watching television or playing a computer game, your child, as he grows older, might choose reading instead.

Reading Should be Fun

Reading experience should be fun and not frustrating.

If in the past getting your kid to read has been a challenge, then start with one suggestion before moving to the next tip and make reading books a daily routine.

Have fun and keep reading with, and to your kids.


Tips for Reading to Children

Bus 52 :Book Trail (See Reader Amy's Comment, Below)

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.

© 2012 Mazlan A


Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 27, 2020:

Hi Charlene. Thanks for dropping by and your kind words. Nowadays, children love spending time on their phone and computer more than reading a book, so I hope your son will learn to enjoy and loves reading as much as he enjoys tech.

Charlene Gallant from Cape Town, South Africa on August 27, 2020:

Thank you for the great read! Trying to get my son to love reading as much as he loves tech so this is very relevant to me...much appreciated.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on July 21, 2012:

Amy thanks for the visit and sharing your work with readers of HubPages. I am sure they will find it useful and interesting. I will include your YouTube to my article.

Amy on July 21, 2012:

This is a great list of tips! I'm part of a non-profit called Bus 52 that travels around the US making videos of people who are doing inspiring things to help their communities and we made a video about a non-profit in Colorado that was set up to encourage children to read.

Book Trails is a great organization that has started summer camps for children that have activities based around a different books each week. The children read the book, and are then encouraged to discuss their ideas about the book. They also get the chance to learn and act out things that the characters in the books do, and explore the outdoors while doing so.

It really is a very cool organization. The short video we made about it is here in case you and your readers are interested:

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on April 03, 2012:

Thanks bizwin for dropping by and for the votes & comment

Theresa D from England, UK on April 03, 2012:

These are great reading tips for parents to use for children. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 24, 2012:

Hi aDayInMyLife1, Thanks for dropping by and giving your compliments. Good of you to take immediate action. They say that people who take immediate action will have success in their life! Best wishes in all your future endeavors.

Amanda S from CA on March 24, 2012:

Great Hub! You have presented some terrific tips on how to encourage reading in children. After I comment I am going to carry some out right now! Thank you so much :)

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 24, 2012:

Hi Brett.Tesol. Thanks for your comment & votes, and thanks for Sharing

Brett C from Asia on March 24, 2012:

Extremely good advice. It is so important to get children to read. Not only can it benefit their education, but also it focuses their brain, helps them to relax and can lead to better sleep.

Socially sharing, up and awesome.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 10, 2012:

PegCole17, I am glad reading had bonded and brought you both, closer together. That's the magic of reading to your child. Congrats on your success

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on March 10, 2012:

Some of my fondest memories are of reading books to my young stepson. As an instant Mother to a child who had lost his mother, it was a challenging task to develop a rapport with my new son but the warmth of his interest and closeness helped us to become a family. I still remember the words to many of the books he wanted to read together over and over again as he learned to read. Thanks for this insightful hub and for the fond memories.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

Hi AliciaC, Thanks for your compliment and thanks for stopping by. Your avatar must be one of your cats?

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 08, 2012:

You have some great ideas in this well organized hub, greatstuff! Thanks for all the useful suggestions for encouraging children to read for pleasure.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

Hi NJ Blake, I see that you just joined HP..welcome to the community and thanks for dropping by. You home-schooled your kids? I am glad you succeeded in getting your kids to read

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

Hi tirelesstraveler. Thanks for your compliment and votes. Reading aloud is indeed important and I can't agree with you, more.

NJ Blake from United States on March 08, 2012:

Lots of great ideas here! I have four grown children, all avid readers and I did many of these things, but I think the most important thing I did was keep them out of school which allowed them to read what they wanted to read when they wanted to read it!

Judy Specht from California on March 08, 2012:

Reading aloud to children is of the utmost importance. It doesn't matter the age. Reading aloud gives pleasure and when a child enjoys reading they will learn to read. Excellent hub. Voted up and useful.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

Hi hoteltravel. You are lucky to have no problem with getting your son to read. You are right about keeping books within their reach. If we try too hard, it might look like the child is being forced, and he will reject and resent it. The idea is to get them to enjoy doing it.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

rlaha, I am glad you found the hub informative. thanks for all the votes and sharing.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

Hi susanm23b, Thanks for dropping by and thanks for your nice comment and vote. Your hub on a similar topic is also a great read.

Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on March 08, 2012:

Thank you thebookmom for your compliment and thanks for being my first commenter. Hope to hear from you again.

hoteltravel from Thailand on March 08, 2012:

Thankfully, I never had to try or struggle to get mine to read. It was as natural as eating or bathing. I still remember our son lying down with an upside down book at night trying to imitate us. Don't get me wrong, I think parents are trying too hard to get their children to read. If they are interested, you just need to keep books within their reach. Starting early is a good suggestion.

rlaha from Spartanburg, SC on March 07, 2012:

This is great information. Thanks so much for sharing! Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

susanm23b on March 07, 2012:

You have an excellent hub here! You have included so many great suggestions for parents to help their children develop a love of reading. Voted UP!

thebookmom from Nebraska on March 07, 2012:

What a complete hub. You have wonderful age sensitive ideas that are really easy for parents to try. I loved the section on reading behaviors you can model for your kids to watch. Well done.