5 tips to get your kids to read more

This may come as a surprise to you but not everyone loves to read. I know, I know, it’s quite the bomb to drop. Take a moment to compose yourself.

I was a reader from the start. My favorite thing in the world was to read out loud to an audience of stuffed animals. While my bears enjoyed my theatrical readings, my brother didn’t so much. I vividly remember him running down the hall, bursting into my room and screaming “THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU! THEY’RE NOT REAL!”

Supportive siblings aside, I’ve never related to people who say they don’t enjoy reading. And then I married one {gasp!}. Micah became my guinea pig about the same time he became my husband.

Marrying an outsider

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I was unreasonably dedicated to finding something he would enjoy reading. I’ve always been of the mind that there is a book out there for everyone and it was my duty to find one for Micah.

if you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book. -JK Rowling

We went through some of my favorite books, first. Since I like things like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein and the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, surely he would to. But he wasn’t. Fairly quickly, I learned I needed to stop trying to give Micah books just because I liked them. Instead, I needed to find something that he would connect with. And I managed to I find something right up his alley: Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. Micah loves Vegas, gambling and money. And Ben Mezrich’s writing style is narrative, easy to follow and entertaining. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

He loved it! After blowing through that book, he read 5 more of Mezrich’s books back-to-back. We were finally on to something! Now that I know what to look for, Micah and I can actually share books. Just this week, we fought over who could read Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson first (I won).

Sharing my love of reading was hugely satisfying. And hearing where his distaste for reading came from made me want to make sure my kids never lose the joy by being forced to read a certain type of book or making them meet a reading goal they’re not interested in.

To maintain a love of reading and learning, I came up with 5 things that we would do as a family to encourage our kids to read without fighting them to do so.

5 tips to get your kids to read more

1. Write them letters. 

If you have a reluctant reader, whole books may be an overwhelming place to start. Handwritten notes to your kids can reinforce that reading can make you feel good. Plus, it’s a great way to connect. Throw a note in their lunchbox or leave one in their room to find after school. It doesn’t have to be something formal or long. Just a little something to make them feel good. Some things you could write about:

  • Encouraging notes: Maybe your child is working on a project or facing a test. Send a little encouragement their way!
  • Thank you notes: Whether or not you’re a “thank you note” person, writing a thank you to your child can go a long way. Thank them for a chore or something nice they did recently. They’ll appreciate the acknowledgement.
  • Funny notes: Be silly! Write a note from the perspective of a pet or throw in some jokes. You can Google “jokes for kids” or something similar and you’ll have plenty of to choose from. Warning: the word “hilarious” is subjective. Here’s one site I found that had some good ones.

2. Play games with written instructions. 

Reading instructions is a great way to practice reading comprehension. If your reader enjoys playing games, ask them to set one up and explain how to play while you get ready. Try not to make it obvious, though. For game ideas, check out what Discovery Toys has to offer. These are a couple of my favorites!

Discovery Toys games

3. Read aloud to your kids. 

You don’t need to stop reading to your kids just because they can read themselves. Reading aloud in another way to show your kids that reading is a good experience and can be a moment to connect. It also allows them to hear stories (and vocabulary) that may be beyond their reading level. This article from greatschools.org has some great insight into why reading aloud is so important.

4. Play word games.

Word games can help build vocabulary and word recognition. Both make more confident readers. Early readers will enjoy games like Letter Pix, where you race to spell 3, 4 and 5 letter words. Older kids can use games like Wiz Kidz to build vocabulary. Any activity that creates a fun experience using words is going to strengthen your child’s language development (written and oral).

5. Give them books that match their interests.

Just like with Micah, finding books that your reader will connect with is the key. My sophomore English teacher may disagree, but I would argue that reading “the classics” is unnecessary if you’re talking to someone who hates reading. Connecting with what you’re reading is so much more important, especially to start. Finding a topic and writing style that your child will enjoy will make a world of difference.

And don’t get too hung up on the type of book. Comic books and graphic novels count as reading! As your kids get more comfortable in the type of book they read, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, comic books or anything else, they’ll branch out as they’re ready. Luckily for you, Usborne Books & More has a huge variety of books to choose from. If you’re stuck and looking for ideas, contact me! Let me know your child’s age, reading level and a general idea of what they enjoy. I’ll pick books that will match their interests and reading level for you!

UBAM books

BONUS TIP

The best way to get your kids interested in reading is to read yourself. Kids that grow up with books around them are better readers. And kids that see their parents enjoying reading are more likely to do it themselves. Take a load off and let them see you relaxing with a book. It’s a guilt-free way to take some time for yourself. Because, you know, ultimately it helps them!

Reading Fact: The number of books in home has a positive correlation to reading scores

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Tell me, what do you do to encourage your kids to read?