Reading is truly the foundation of learning, in childhood and beyond.
An increased vocabulary, better listening skills, improved imagination, and refined critical thinking skills are just a few of the benefits children gain from being introduced to a variety of books at a young age.
What can we do, though, when kids don’t find reading to be exciting?
The answer, quite simply, is to keep trying. I honestly believe that if a child hasn’t yet developed a love of reading, it’s because they haven’t found literature that meets their unique needs and expectations.
If you’re looking for ideas to help get a child in your life to feel excited about reading, you might find these easy-to-implement suggestions to be useful.
Let kids choose – I think one of the biggest mistakes parents and teachers make, in regard to children and reading, is not allowing kids to make their own book selections.
Take your child to the library or bookstore, and let them decide which titles they find intriguing. Even if they choose a book that is slightly above or below their reading level, go for it. If they find the book interesting, it might lead to a newfound appreciation of the written word.
One of my sons, who is usually a reluctant reader, will sit for hours with Minecraft books, comic books, magazines, and even cookbooks. Are these great literary classics? No, but they are allowing him to (slowly) develop a love of reading.
Use rewards – We all like to be rewarded for our efforts. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, they don’t even have to be material items.
For some kids, simple praise and encouragement for a job well done is enough to motivate them to read more. Find an incentive that is meaningful to your child, and have them read to earn it. Who knows, maybe they will discover the joy of literacy, as they work toward their reward goal.
If you haven’t signed up yet, the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program (open to teachers as well as homeschoolers) is a cool way for kids to earn free pizza while reading.
Most local libraries also offer reading reward programs in the summer, and throughout the year.
Explore books that are also movies – This can be an extremely effective way to get children more excited about literature. Read the book, then watch the film, and discuss the similarities and differences.
Such a great opportunity for exploring the concept of compare and contrast, as well as to work on important critical thinking skills.
Share books from your own childhood – Kids love to learn more about how life was “back in the old days.” Rediscover some of your favorite childhood books, and share them with your own children.
Engage in activities that extend on books – With so many online resources available today, such as Pinterest, it’s easy to find enrichment activities to expand on a child’s interest in a particular book or series.
We’ve shared some simple ideas for Freckle Juice that we had a lot of fun with, but if you’re looking for other titles, a simple internet search is sure to provide a plethora of options.
Get cozy – Build a fort, create a fun reading nook, or simply grab a blanket and cuddle on the couch. Reading should be enjoyable and relaxing, both in the classroom and at home. It doesn’t take much to create an enticing area that kids will want to use often.
Encourage kids to get their own library card – Children love to see their name on things. They also like to feel important and grown-up. A library card of their own, that has their name, and is “official,” can be a great motivational tool.
Try a series – If you find a book that excites your child, they will be hooked, and will want to read more titles in the series. Some great ones to start with include The Boxcar Children, Fudge, Ramona, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Start a friendly competition – Compete to see who can log the most minutes read per week. This works great in the classroom or at home, and can be a done individually or as a group.
Offer alternatives – In my opinion, there is nothing like holding a book, feeling the smooth pages as you turn each one. However, I know that not everyone has the same attachment to physical books. If kids prefer to read on a tablet, computer, or other electronic device, I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Finding alternative ways to increase children’s exposure to literature, even if that means through ebooks or audiobooks, can encourage kids to eventually develop more of an interest in traditional paper books.
How do you encourage kids to get excited about reading? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.