Ways to Motivate Children to Read
Education - Learning

Ways to Motivate Children to Read

Reading goes hand in hand with creating. The importance of reading is to understand the arc of a story and how to convey information, lessons and emotions. To inspire reading sometimes you need to involve your children in the creative process behind a book. How it is made, the story it tells. The more they know about the components, the more excited they will be to experience the journey themselves. Children learn in a variety of ways so here are some different ideas to inspire a love of reading inside of them.


From the moment they are born, read to them. Make the bedtime story a routine. Never turn down a child when they ask to have a story read to them. Even if you’ve read it to them 100 times in a row. They need routine, repetition, and security. Sitting in your lap or tucked into bed each night having their favorite book read to them fulfills those needs. It also gets them familiar with what a book looks like, which way the pages turn, how stories begin, evolve and end, and uses pictures to guide their imagination.


Words don’t just exist in books. Ask them to read off the grocery list to you, pick their own meal by reading off of the menu themselves, read instructions to you while you put something together, or read the recipe to you while you cook. This is good every day practice and also highlights the importance and usefulness of reading. They may not enjoy reading books from school, but it may be hard for them to keep their nose out of a sports magazine or comic book, the funny pages in the newspaper or game sites online. The key is finding something they enjoy and incorporating the reading into that context.


Kids like independence. A great way to give some to them is with a library card. Bring them to the library and have them request a library card. Going through that process themselves and being given something of their very own to hold onto, care for and use is empowering. Give them a tour of the library – not just the children’s section. Let them see the world of books, genres and resources that the library provides to all levels of readers. Then let them browse and pick out their own books. After clearing their selections with you, have them pull out their own library card and check them out on their own. This process might just motivate them to read more.

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When I was growing up, we used to play Mad Libs on long car rides or stuck inside on rainy days. Making silly stories was easier the more words we knew to plug in. Without even knowing it was work, we learned what nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives were. Mad Libs are still around. But as technology has changed, kids can learn all about reading, spelling and vocabulary with LeapPads and online computer games. Matching your child’s interest in technology with reading is a great idea. Find educational sites, software and games that focus on stories, books, vocabulary, and writing. Doing word puzzles, crosswords and other games can be easier to encourage online instead of on paper.


When your child turns 13 they can set up a profile online on Goodreads which is a social book club and catalogue resource for tracking books to be read and a platform for reviewing those completed. With monitoring by a parent or in the classroom kids are exposed to online discussions with others who have read the same books. They can publish their own ratings and reviews and organize virtual shelves in whatever way they prefer. Knowing there are other book lovers across the world reading the same things they are is a powerful tool to both inspire reading as well as meeting kids from many different walks of life.


Actively discussing something you have read opens up windows to all sorts of lessons. It teaches you how to convey your thoughts, debate your beliefs, see things from a different point of view and makes you pay more attention during the reading process to better absorb ideas for sharing later. If your local library or the school system doesn’t have book clubs for kids, start one as a family. Pick a book for the family to read – either together or individually at the same time. Then make time to meet and discuss it. It lets you monitor what your kids are reading while bringing the family together to share opinions. Encourage your kids to invite others into the book club, with parental permission.

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Your child might be turned off from reading because they haven’t found a genre or subject matter that they can relate to or that motivates them. If fantasy and fables don’t spark an interest, give them a biography or memoir of a person they admire. Introduce them to historical fiction, or mysteries. Most kids like to read about other kids their age going through the same things they have experienced. If your child loves to play baseball, find a book about a Little League team. Or if they love drawing, find a book about a famous comic strip artist. If they love action look for a book featuring a young character who saved the day on the high seas. And sometimes the classics like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys will work their magic for your little sleuth just like they did for you.


Never underestimate the impression real life grown-ups have on your kids. They are in awe of meeting real firemen, policemen and doctors. But they also love meeting people that create – like artists, musicians and writers. Take advantage of any opportunities at your school, library or book store to introduce your child to an author or illustrator. Let them hear right from the source how they came up with the idea for that book your child is so familiar with. Let them ask for themselves how long it took to create that story, or decide what the character would look like. Let them shake hands, get an autograph or photo. Books are more interesting when they are personalized.

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You appreciate something more when you know the effort involved in getting to the end result. Show your child how a book comes to exist. Have the youngest tell a story. Have the oldest write or type it out. Have the middle one draw pictures or take photos to illustrate it. Then work together as a group to edit it on the computer or in good old fashioned scrap book format. Bind it together and laminate the covers. Sit down as a family and read it. Then discuss it. Talk not only about the story and illustrations but the experience of working to pull all the pieces together and get them to fit into the book you hold in your hands. They might pay more attention to the words, illustrations, characters and layout in other books that they come across.


Encourage your kids to act out the story behind their favorite book. They can put on a play, do a puppet show, make a video, or put it to music. Give them the old clothes to design costumes. Socks make great puppets. They can write their own lyrics to a musical version. Software on your computer can easily transform the photos or recordings of the performance and turn it into a slideshow or video. The kids will refer back to the book as a guide and their source for inspiration. They may enjoy the production process so much that they will be motivated to seek out more books with stories to bring to life.


Create a family blog or newsletter where your kids can contribute their own stories, provide reviews of the books they have read, summarize your book club discussions, post videos of the stories they’ve acted out, share photos from that author they got to meet, display illustrations they’ve made of their favorite literary characters, or come up with a To Read list.