Reading is a hugely important skill that’s the key to success in every area of life. Raising kids who love reading should be every parent’s goal. Here are ten ways to instill a love of reading in your child.
10 Ways to Raise Kids Who Love to Read
1. Read to Your Kids
Read early and read often. From birth onward, until your child is grown, read to them. Many people read to their young children frequently, but over time they gradually stop reading to their kids once the kids are independent readers. Don’t underestimate the value of reading fiction and non-fiction to all of your kids, even into their teen years.
2. Get Books that are Durable
It’s important that books are not something that kids have to be too careful with when they are very young. It’s more important that the books in your home are accessible to your child. Get bath books, board books, fabric books, books that they can color, so these are books that they can take to bed at night and love like a favorite toy. My oldest son, at the age of four, often took his favorite book with him to nap time each day. To this day (he’s now 32 years old) he is a prolific reader and spends hours of free time reading. Books were his friends then and still are.
3. Have Your Kids Read to You, Your Pets, or Others
Kids need to practice reading to develop a love of reading. Have your kid read something that they really enjoy to you, your pets, or others, such as their grandparents. Some kids are intimidated reading to adults but feel more comfortable reading to pets or toys. It’s perfectly fine if the book they choose is easier than their reading ability.
4. Give Books as Gifts
Giving books to children as gifts let children know that books are special and worth the time and money people spend to purchase them. Children learn to value books when others around them do. Not sure what books to choose? You can find reading lists by age/grade level at the Association for Library Service to Children to help you decide what to give. Here is a great book list for kids as well.
5. Play Audio Books on Car Trips for the Whole Family to Enjoy
When my children were young, we listened to Charlotte’s Web and other audiobooks as a family on a car trip. We all discussed the characters in the books and the children read many of the books we listened to as they got old enough to read on their own. It’s wonderful if children listen to audiobooks on their own and it’s even better if the whole family listens together.
6. Sign Up Your Kid to Receive Books and Magazines by Mail
There are many quality children’s magazines available that will help develop a love of reading in your child. My first-grade son looks forward to his Highlights magazine coming every month and is thrilled when we hand him his mail. He can’t wait for us to look through it together. My older kids loved being able to order books from the Scholastic Book Club, which has programs for public and private schools and homeschools. There is also a myriad of book club subscription boxes now available.
7. Sign up for Summer Reading Clubs
Bookstores and libraries sponsor summer reading clubs that offer great activities, events, and prizes for reading a certain number of books or reading for a certain amount of time. These reading clubs help kids to value and love reading. Some of our family’s favorite summer reading clubs are sponsored by Half-Price Books, H-E-B Grocery Company which offers the H-E-Buddy Summer Reading Club for Texas residents, and our local library. We sign up for all three every year because each offers different prizes for meeting the reading goals. An internet search may turn up some surprising choices for summer reading clubs in your area.
8. Start a Kids’ Book Club
Kids love doing things with their friends. If all the kids are reading and discussing books together, it will help them to see that it’s cool to enjoy reading. Scholastic Books has recommendations for starting a kids’ book club here.
9. Let Your Kids See You Reading and Discuss What You Read with Your Family
Kids don’t do what you say as much as they copy what you do. If you want your kids to love reading, they need to see that you love and prioritize reading for yourself. If we tell our children that taking time to read is good for us, we need to make sure that we take time to read over time scrolling through our Facebook or watching some escapist television.
In addition to letting our kids see us read, it’s important that we discuss what we read with our family (kids and adults). Kids need to know that what we read can change us, improve us, encourage us, and even comfort us, and that reading is worth doing.
10. Watch Movies Based on the Books You Read
My seven-year-old son and I recently started watching movies based on the books we’re reading. Recently, we read The Wind in the Willows and then watched a movie version of the book. He kept begging me to read the book faster so that we could watch the movie sooner. The day we finished the book was a cause for celebration!
I made a big deal of the movie, having a special pizza night and movie snacks like popcorn and soda. We had a lot of fun discussing the movie afterward and comparing it to the book to see if it stayed true to the original story or not. This was a big hit and we will continue to look for movie adaptations of the books on our reading list.
So there you have it, ten ways to help your kids develop a love of reading. Try one idea or try them all over time as your kids grow and see what effects these ideas have on your budding readers!