Elon 336.538.2416   |   Mebane 919.563.2500 Office Hours

11 Ways to Encourage a Love of Reading

Father And Young Son Reading Book Together At Home: blog: 11 Ways to Encourage a Love of Reading

We all know how important reading is to your child’s development and their education. However, the pressure to read can make it seem like a chore and make kids resistant to doing it outside of school. 

So, how do you get them to enjoy it? What’s the magic formula for making them love reading instead of resenting it? Well, there’s no magic involved, but it can be done with some proper planning and dedication. It won’t happen on its own, but you can try the following methods to help encourage a love of reading.

1. Create a Space

Chances are, your home doesn’t have a library. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a space dedicated to books and reading. Find somewhere your child would actually like to hang out and read and make it into a reading area. You can make it into a little fort or nook by hanging blankets and putting cushions on the floor. Or it might be a corner somewhere with a comfy seat they can curl up in. Just make sure they have good lighting and access to books. A lot of children respond well to having a special shelf or bookcase of their own where their books live (but be sure the books aren’t out of reach).

2. Go to the Library

The library is so much more than somewhere you can go to check out books for free (although, that would make it a cool enough on its own). Librarians have experience with all sorts of books and can be wonderful for recommending books for your child based on their interests or what they’ve enjoyed reading in the past. Also, libraries often have special programs like reading clubs, story hours, and other activities. Associate the library with fun, and they’ll look forward to going even if it’s just to pick up some new books to read. 

3. Make it Interactive

Find activities that go with books your child is reading. Is there an outing you could go on to experience something in the book? This could be anything from going to a zoo, petting zoo or farm to see animals in the books to cooking a dish that kids read about. Find books about your town or state and explore things mentioned in the books. Or, if you take a vacation somewhere a book is set, read the book before you go and see what sights you recognize from the story.

4. Listen to Books

While you might think it’s as beneficial as reading the written word, listening to an audiobook is still a great way to engage a child in reading. Listening to stories being read confidently help with fluency. Fluency is the ability to read quickly, accurately, and with the correct intonation. You can get audiobooks through your library membership, or you can use an app with a subscription service like Audible. 

5. Set an Example

If you’ve ever tried to get your child to pick up a habit, you’ve undoubtedly heard that modeling good behavior yourself is critical. If your child sees you reading a lot, then they won’t associate it with something they are being forced to do as a school assignment. So, if you’ve never been a big reader in your free time, or you’ve let the habit slip, now would be a great time to put some effort into making it a priority. Make sure your child sees that you’re doing it for pleasure, and not as a chore.

6. Watch Adaptations

If a book your child has read has a decent film adaptation, then watch it with them! Watching what they’ve imagined in their heads or only seen in still pictures come to life on screen can be wonderful. But it’s important to get the order right in this instance. Be sure that the book is read in full first and then have a movie night. Do not let them get the wrong idea that watching the movie is just as good as reading it (something that high school and college students also need to remember). In fact, make a point to discuss the differences between the two. What did the movie leave out that they thought was important in the book? What would they have missed out on if they’d only seen the film? How did the story compare to how they thought about it while reading? 

7. Talk About It

Don’t just read something, check it off the list, and move on. Take a bit of time to talk about what your child has read or what you’ve read with them. It doesn’t have to be a formal discussion by any means. Just chat in the car, while making dinner, or have a bit of free time. This will keep them engaged in the story and help them develop critical thinking skills. Sometimes when reading, kids can get hung up on the technicalities of sounding out words and not knowing certain terms. Try to remind them that the story is important.

8. Have Materials on Hand

If you want your child to love reading and do it often, you should have plenty of reading materials available to them. Keep books around the house in different places, not just on the special shelf in their designated reading area. Having books, magazines, or comics in other rooms will encourage them to read even more. You don’t have to buy tons of books, though starting a home library is never a bad idea. You can hint to friends and family members that they’d make good gifts for your kids. Or you can borrow from the library or swap amongst friends. 

9. Make it a Habit

It may seem like there is no wiggle room in your child’s schedule (or yours), but make sure that there is time designated for reading each day. Set aside a period of time appropriate for their age range, and enforce that time as reading time. Make it a part of everyday life and not something you try to squeeze in between other activities. A good time for this is at night before bed. Not only is it easy to remember that reading time is at the end of the day, but it also associates reading with relaxing and unwinding. It’s also nice to have something to look forward to as bedtime nears.

10. Let Them Choose

If your child gets to choose what they read instead of you pushing something on them, then it will feel like something they get to do rather than a chore. You may have books you enjoyed as a child you want to share with them, but if they are not as interested as you’d like them to be, don’t push it. You can always go back to it later to see if they want to give it another shot. When they get to make the call about what to read at home, they’ll be more likely to engage in it, a good way to build a positive habit.

11. Read Aloud Together

One of the most common pieces of advice experts, including those at the American Academy of Pediatrics, give is to make it a priority to read aloud together. It seems like an obvious thing to do when a child is younger and can’t read at all or is not very advanced. However, it’s important not to stop the practice once kids can read on their own. Not only will this encourage them to love reading, but it can also provide some great bonding memories for all of you.

As a Reach Out and Read provider participant, we believe that all families should have the tools and information needed to make daily reading a routine in order to help build a foundation for success.

At well-child visits from infancy, until they start school, patients of Kernodle Pediatrics will receive a free book that is age-appropriate for your child. This “prescription” to read aloud is designed to foster language-rich interactions between you and your child that stimulate early brain development.

To schedule an appointment, call our Elon office at 336-538-2416 or our Mebane office at 919-563-2500. You can also request an appointment online.

Help us serve you better and tell us how we're doing.