How to Motivate Kids to Read

How to Motivate Kids to Read

How to Motivate Kids to Read – In the world of kids and reading, interest and motivation are hugely important. Increased interest equals increased motivation!

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For a young child, interest in books and reading translates into motivation and readiness to learn how to read when the time is right.

For a struggling reader, interest in books and reading can translate into motivation to keep going when learning to read doesn’t come easily.

For a reluctant reader of any age, interest in books and reading can ignite motivation and liberate an avid reader within.

Here are helpful tips for increasing your children’s motivation by raising their interest in books and reading.

Create a Family Culture of Reading

The best way to support your children’s interest in books and reading is to create a family culture of reading, right from the start.

how to get kids interested in reading1. Read aloud to your babies from the very beginning.

2. Launch your family library with a variety of awesome board books and cloth books designed especially for babies.

3. Keep a few board books in the crib, in baskets around the house, and in the car. Your goal here is to make books as readily accessible as toys all through childhood.

4. As your baby becomes a toddler, create traditions and rituals around reading, such as a nightly bedtime story routine.

5. Make reading time fun, and make sure your child can see how much you enjoy it. Your little ones are looking for you to model what is important in your family. In this case, it is books and reading! If you take delight in books, so will your child.

6. For kids of all ages, let them see you enjoy reading on your own. Keep books and e-readers around the house where your children can see them, and see you reading them. Let your kids hear you talking with other adults about what you have read.

Discover and Follow Your Child’s Passions

when do kids start to read7. Make regular trips to the library and/or the bookstore so that your child can explore different types of books.

8. When your child shows an interest in something, provide books on that topic. I really can’t emphasize this enough. With toddlers and preschoolers, you are embedding books and reading into all parts of your child’s life. With older kids, you are showing them that reading is a way to enrich any part of their life. This tradition can continue for years – I still bring home relevant books for my young adult children, and my parents still pick up books for me on topics they know I am interested in!

9. With older kids who may not be spending enough time reading on their own, find engaging books that match their passions, and are slightly below their independent reading level. Read a few pages out loud each day, and leave the book in a visible, accessible place, without comment. It may take a while, but eventually you are likely to see your child pick up the book on their own. Another variation of this strategy is to read the first book in a highly regarded series, and leave the second book in a handy place.

Use these tips to super-charge your children’s interest in reading and books, and watch their motivation soar!

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Cute blond boy laying down and looking at a book.young girl with pigtails and glasses resting folded arms on a stack of booksyoung girl standing between bookshelves in a library





How to Choose Great Books for Kids

How to Choose Great Books for Kids

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What is a Great Book?

A great book pulls kids in, and then holds their attention.  It has clear, engaging illustrations, or uses language that makes it easy to visualize the story. A good book might be comforting and familiar, or new and exciting. It might be an award winner that comes up in your Amazon recommendations or on Pinterest, or a simple board book you pick up in the checkout line at the grocery store. The bottom line is, a great book is any book that your family enjoys.

How to Choose Great Books

Take look at current favorites. Do your kids love silly rhyming books with whimsical illustrations? Or do they gravitate towards non-fiction books with realistic photography? Is there a chapter book series they enjoy? Consider current interests.  Has your child recently become obsessed with buses or garbage trucks?  Or do your kids settle right down when you reach for a book that depicts warm cozy family or school situations? Ask your kids for input – what would they like to learn more about?  What is their teacher reading out loud right now? What books do they see their friends reading? Involving your children in this process will skyrocket their buy-in and excitement for reading.

Books for Infants and Toddlers

Look for:How to Choose Books for Babies and Toddlers

  • Books with big, bold, colorful pictures of familiar or everyday objects or activities.
  • Sturdy books made of heavy cardboard, washable cloth, or plastic.
  • Small books that are easy for little hands to hold and turn the pages.
  • Stories told in short, simple sentences with pictures that explain the text.
  • Poems and rhymes that make the book fun to read aloud and fun to listen to.

Books for Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

Look for:

  • Books that highlight basic concepts, such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers.
  • Rhyme and repetition.
  • Photographs and illustrations that are clear, colorful and engaging.
  • Simple, fun plots with action that moves quickly.
  • Stories about everyday life and familiar events in a child’s day-to-day life.
  • Main characters (human or animal) who are your child’s age or just a little bit older.

Books for Elementary School Kids (Ages 6-11)

Look for:

  • Books that reflect your child’s interests and passions.
  • Other books with your child’s favorite characters, or by favorite authors and illustrators.
  • Illustrations and photos that directly support the text and give clues to the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Project, craft, and recipe books with clearly worded instructions and supportive illustrations.
  • Picture books your child enjoyed hearing when they were younger. Most picture books are written at a third or fourth grade level, and are terrific to revisit when your child becomes a more independent reader.
  • Chapter books that your child can read independently, or higher level chapter books for you to read aloud.
  • Fact books, such as world record books, trivia books, and almanacs.

Books for Adolescents (Ages 12 and Up)

Look for:
How to Choose Books for Adolescents

  • New genres – biographies, mysteries, spy thrillers, classics, historical fiction, and mythology.
  • Books about places in the world that interest your child, or that they are studying in school.
  • Novels that depict characters dealing with the daily challenges of growing up.
  • Graphic novels that re-tell classic stories.


Involve Your Child

Perhaps most importantly, involve your kids in choosing new books.  Encourage them to join you as you look for new titles, and model your thought process as you consider new books to add to your family library. Learning how to choose great books is a reading skill that your child will use forever.




How to Get Kids to Read More

How to Get Kids to Read More

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As a reading specialist, special education teacher and tutor, I often have parents ask me for ideas about how to get kids to read more. If you have a child who is learning to read, or one who already knows how to read but just does not like it, here are a few strategies to get kids interested in reading.

The Old-Fashioned Read Aloud

If you have a school-age child who doesn’t like to spend time reading, the first step is to share the wonder of reading without any of the pressure.  In other words, show your reluctant reader how wonderful books are without expecting them to do the actual reading.  If you haven’t already started a daily read-aloud habit in your family, now is the time to do so.  If you had a bedtime reading routine in the past but have slacked off recently, it’s time to re-establish the tradition.

Choose GREAT Books

how to get kids to readEven if you have been reading aloud, if you want to convince your child that reading is worthwhile, you’re going to have to up your game.  You can’t grab just any picture book or chapter book that you happen to have around the house.  Consider your child’s age, interests, and attention span, and start browsing through lists of recommended booksRefresh your home library with a few books that you think will truly appeal to your child.  Even for an older child, take a look at a few picture books.  Many of them have complex, intriguing storylines and beautiful illustrations that can pique your child’s interest.  And remember, you are doing the reading.  Your child gets to snuggle up next to you and just enjoy the experience.

Isn’t the Idea to Get My CHILD Reading?

“That’s great,” you say. “I’m fine with livening up our read aloud time, but I want to know how to get kids interested in reading by themselves.”  Once you’ve picked a few new books that are likely to be well-received, and established some cozy read aloud rituals in your family’s routine, you can move on to helping your child enjoy reading more independently

The #1 Reason Your Child May Avoid Readinghow to get kids to read more

Why do some kids seem to dislike reading? If you have a child who knows how to read but chooses not to, it is likely because of a lack of fluency in decoding, or “sounding out” the words.  Kids who avoid independent reading often do so because it takes such hard work that it just isn’t any fun at all.  The solution is simple and straightforward: “easy reading makes reading easy.”  Let your child read lots and lots and lots of books that are easy for them to decode, and then do whatever it takes to encourage repeated reading.  Choose books that are one level below your child’s reading ability and stay with high-interest topics.  Also, find some old favorites from when your child was younger.

Resort to Bribery if Necessary

Some children are so relieved to have the “sounding out” pressure reduced, that they are entirely willing to read these easier books, because now it is fun, right?  That’s great!  Let them read these easy books again and again and again.  You are aiming for what New Zealand reading specialist Marie Clay calls “massive amounts of familiar re-reading.”  Some kids are less willing – they may be discouraged or think that it is pointless to read a book more than once.  For these kids, consider providing an incentive.  I’ve had great success offering a sticker for each time a book is read.  For tough cases, offer a small amount of screen time in exchange for each book that is read.

These strategies, implemented in a low-key, positive manner, can go a long way towards turning your child into a more avid reader.

My favorite source for finding easy books for any child is Reading A-Z.

Note – Make sure that your child’s phonemic awareness and age-appropriate knowledge of phonics are in place.  If either of these two elements is missing, make a plan for addressing the issue, either by working with the school, or providing some extra help at home