How Do I Get My Child to Read More?
Yesterday, I was stopped in the library (of all places) by an acquaintance who takes care of her grandson. She had him there to meet with a reading tutor. While she waited for his session to be over, we chatted a bit.
After catching up, she expressed that he was having some trouble with reading and asked, “how do you get your kids to read?” She said, “He’s just not that interested in books.”
That’s a great question, and one I think many people have. Sometimes children don’t enjoy reading like we think they should. In our home, even though I regularly pick up fresh reading material from the library, reading just doesn’t happen as much as I’d like. But then, they’ll find just the right book and want to read all the time. It’s a balance. That being said, here are some ways you can encourage your kids to read more (and in turn, become better readers!)
Read to them!
Yes. Read to them. I don’t mean just the ones who don’t know how to read yet. I mean all ages! Doing this is a way to expose your child to language they haven’t yet encountered in their young lives. Of course, there is simply an element of enjoyment that happens when you are reading to your child and they are hearing a story from one of the people they love the most. The benefits are immense. Your child might not be ready to read chapter books independently, but there’s no reason they can’t enjoy them right now! Read chapter books and picture books. This helps them to know how to pronounce words, and becoming familiar with higher language gives them confidence in their own reading.
Bring lots of books into your home!
I’m not suggesting becoming a hoarder (although hoarding books is hardly a bad thing), but having more reading material around gives your child a greater chance to read. The library is free, and you can find books rather inexpensively at thrift stores or used bookstores (especially if your library has a bookstore). Having a print-rich environment definitely sends the subtle message, “we are readers!” to your child.
Let them read what they like
Confession time: My eldest son was an early reader. (That’s not the confession.) As he got older, I thought that his reading would naturally evolve to meatier selections. I figured chapter books should be the bulk of his reading choices by now. I mean, he’s eight years old and has been reading for longer than he hasn’t been reading. Well, when I tried to get him to read chapter books on his own, it didn’t work! In most cases, he has had very little interest in picking up an actual novel and reading it to himself.
Hmm. Guess what I realized? HE’S EIGHT YEARS OLD! He still likes picture books. He likes reading books that have a lot of little factoids and fun pictures. He likes comic-style books. (He loves reading the Peanut’s comic strip collections.) He’s into Thomas trains, so when he spotted a giant collection of Thomas and Friends stories at the library, he devoured it. And he’s checked out this same book about three times now. (I’m talking 400+ pages!) All that to say, don’t discourage them from reading things they are naturally interested in, even if it doesn’t seem like something that’s truly appropriate for their age or reading level. (Hint: when you read to them, you get more of an opportunity to choose what you think they should be reading!)
Give it time (and repeat the first three suggestions!)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always read all the time! I would like to, and I know I should, but life happens! Sometimes I’m very busy with other things, or let’s face it: I get distracted by a new show on Netflix, or something else that catches my fancy. Kids can be the same way. In my experience, they come back around to reading. Just keep bringing books around (and also model a love of reading yourself), and eventually, they will willingly pick up a book and read it too!
Have you had trouble getting your kids to read? How have you handled it?
Becky is a wife of nine years and stay at home mom to four young children. She aspires to encourage women in Biblical truth on her blog, Happy Christian Home