Motivating kids to read

Motivating kids to read

My son is 8, and when he has a free minute, he reads: in the car on the way to school, on the bench, before football training. He even manages to get a book while we go shopping.  In this article I will tell you how I managed to nurture love of reading in my child. 

A friend's daughter started reading at the age of 3, my son at the age of 5; but he began to show interest in real books only about 6 years old. If a kid learns to read at the age of 3, this doesn’t mean that he will immediately read. At this age, children are interested in the process itself, not the content. Until the age of 5-6, I wrote phrases and short stories and invited the child to read them. Children love homemade books about themselves or about what is happening around. This hobby has turned into full-time career and I now have a website with my own books at Alicia Ortego

If you are reading to your baby, it will be natural for him to start doing it on his own when the time is right. When our son was a year old, we started a ritual: after the evening bath, the son went to bed and listened to us read. Later we offered him to read for 5 minutes for us, and then dad continued again.

A friend said that she was busy cleaning up after dinner several times, and so she simply told her daughter: “Read it yourself, now you can do it, and I’ll finish the job and continue”. The girl was so carried away and was so proud that she stopped asking to read to her before bed, and did it herself.

Create positive experiences that will help your child love reading

It is important that every reading experience is accompanied by positive emotions. If we force a child to read, scold him for mistakes, rush him, devalue him, force him to read aloud in public when there is no such desire, we can speed up the process of mechanical learning, but completely discourage the love of reading.

Create positive associations with books and reading

Do not compare his experience with that of other children. Especially brothers or sisters. You can only compare with his own experience. Don't say, "At your age, your sister could already read a whole book!"  Better say: "Now you can read a whole page, and until recently it was beyond your power!" Avoid comparisons with other children in a positive way. Reading should not become a competition for the child.

Don't force. By forcing the child, we completely discourage the interest in reading. Therefore, in case of refusal, it is better to open the book yourself and offer to read aloud.

Don't fix it. Having read a word or a phrase incorrectly, the child can guess the meaning on his own and correct. Or read it right next time. The only time you can correct is if he constantly reads a word incorrectly, and this interferes with the understanding of the text as a whole.

Show your children your love of reading

I never expected my son to read so much, he seemed too restless for that. So I didn't think about anything in advance. However, now I understand that we unconsciously motivated the children.

We have a large library at home. Earlier, both I and my husband read a lot, now - less, but if I took a book, then I can not tear myself away. My son saw me many times with a book in his hands and with a face saying: "Please do not touch me until I finish, I am so curious!" Recently, I have been reading especially with children. When they come up to me, I show how much is left until the end of the chapter, and I ask you not to bother until I finish. This is how I emphasize the importance of the lesson.

If a child never sees people reading around him, then most likely he will perceive reading as a useless skill. Therefore, it is important for him to see how his parents read. Learn to respect it and not bother you. You might say, “I have 5 more pages to read before the next chapter. I really like this book and would like to finish. "

Find the time

My son does not leave the room where the TV with cartoons is working and doesn’t give up a computer game in favor of a book. To my deep regret, he will always prefer the screen.  Reading will not be a priority in front of a playground, a football game with friends, or a bike ride.

If you want your child to read and love this activity, they must have time. And not 15 minutes before bed. He needs to get bored, then he himself will choose a new book and immerse himself in it.

Make sure your child has enough time to keep reading and reading as much as they want.  Try not to interrupt or interfere with him. Create an environment so that other family members (especially younger brothers and sisters) do not interfere, but show respect for his occupation.

Your child can read while you cook dinner or before bed. Offer him different options, but never impose, just remind: "Now you will take a bath and can read in bed."

It's great if you start your evening reading ritual as early as possible. First, one of the parents will do this, and after the child will be able to read before bedtime.

Maintain interest in what you read

To nurture love of reading, discuss what you read with him, but do not force him to retell. And if you want to make sure that he understood the text, you shouldn't ask: "Tell me what is written there." It is enough to ask leading questions: "What do you think will happen next?"  or "Would you like to visit the place of the main character?"

If your child wants to interrupt to ask a question about what they have read or share their emotions, support them. Clarify the question and share your emotions. Be aware that the meaning is more important than the process in reading. You can also share what you read yourself and what your impressions are.

Choose interesting books

Choose short, preferably funny stories with a simple, clear storyline. When a child reads more or less fluently, the best thing you can do is to entrust the choice of books to him. Be prepared that your choices may not be the same as those of your son or daughter. 

Our only limitation should be the age mark. Although here, do not be too strict: yes, books for teenagers are not suitable for a 6-year-old child, but if the book says 8-9 or 4-5 years old, why not try it if it attracted attention?

My son often chose works that were inappropriate in my opinion, but he read them avidly, and then he got to the suitable ones. I thought that I would not want someone to stand behind me in the bookstore, commenting on my choice, so I tried not to disturb the child.

Comics became another passion of his son. Children who are accustomed to looking at pictures read several phrases spoken by the characters with ease and interest.

A list of useful books for children under 3 years old from Montessori educators will help you choose books according to the age and interests of the child. 

Buy books

It is important for children to see their own home library, collected gradually and with love. It is better to go to bookstores with your child so that he can pick up the copy he likes and see the pictures. As a family, we go to the bookstore and buy several works at once for all family members. Since we usually choose a day off, we go to a cafe, open and discuss our purchases.


If your son or daughter has reading friends, invite them to exchange books. Several times we organized book club meetings, which the children really liked: they gathered in one of the houses and exchanged books, and then they played. Such an event can be organized even before the children have learned to read. In this way, they will see from early childhood that books can be the subject of discussion and meeting, and that they can be shared and exchanged. You can evem introduce your kids to bookcrossing. This will help them love reading. 

Give books to your child and offer to give them to friends and family. Show the value of donation - be sure to sign the gift, children are very pleased to open the book and see the signature of a loved one.

Show where you can borrow books

Sign up for a library to nurture the love of reading. A child can literally be mesmerized by the opportunity to independently choose any book, give his library card, take a few copies home and read it by a certain date. We have chosen a certain day on which we must visit the library, and even my youngest three-year-old daughter loves these visits. We go to the library on foot or go there on scooters. On the way back, I buy small toys for the children at the kiosk. The son takes 3-6 small books and reads them in a week.

It will be a special experience for your child to have fun and borrow books every time you go to the library.

Teach to take care of books

Ask to put the books back in place. At first, most likely, you will have to remind the child about this, and sometimes do it yourself. But if you persist, order will appear on the shelves.  Please note that the order must be established by the child himself. You can also agree that after reading before bedtime, he can put the book on the bedside table, but there should be no more than one at a time.

Never let children rip or ruin books. If this does happen, do not use the book until you fix it.  Discuss with your child the reasons for how to avoid this in the future and involve him in the repair process.

Children will definitely love of reading if adults:

  • lead by example;
  • encourage independent reading;
  • help them get positive experience;
  • devote time for reading and observe rituals;
  • trust the choice of books to the child;
  • organize trips to shops and libraries, exchange and donate books;
  • teach to take care of books.
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Hi! I am Alicia, and I’m the voice, author, and creator behind Alicia
A mother of two, an authentic New Yorker who loves to write, teach, and draw. I am also a school teacher who has the ability to reach thousands of people with the help of my books and this blog!

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  • I am mesmerized this blog, easy to comprehend without use intricate words and create confusions for readers. Over all, I get all of your points. 

  • Nice advice.  You may want to add in "Picture Books" and how they stimulate interest in young children not with words but with images and how that will build up in time to interest in the story told by words.

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