Some children love reading; they can’t wait to get home from school, grab one of their many favourite books, sit in their quiet and comfortable reading spot, and go on a literary adventure. Conversely, some children can’t think of anything worse than reading at home – even if their favourite toy depended on it! Getting children who sit firmly in the latter category to read and enjoy reading can, on the face of it, seem like a gargantuan task. How do you get children – who are stubborn by their very nature – to do something they’re really not a fan of doing? Well, luckily, it’s not quite as mammoth an undertaking as it may seem and in today’s piece, we’re going to provide you with 18 unusual ways to encourage your child to read and boost their interest in books and reading.
How To Motivate Your Child To Read
Where reading is concerned, children typically fall into two main camps – those who cannot get enough of reading and will forgo other fun activities and games in order to read, and those who would need a lot of persuasion to pick up a book, even if their life depended on it. Research conducted by the National Literacy Trust found that children are polarised with regard to reading. One in ten children reads ten or more books per month, whereas one in six doesn’t read a single book in the same time period. Those children in the latter category (which contains a higher proportion of boys) are typically of the opinion that reading is boring or geeky, often complaining that they can’t find books that interest them.
Independent and enthusiastic reading is crucially significant; therefore, encouraging a child who is far from keen on reading to pick up books and read is essential for their development. If you’re struggling to find ways to do this, why not try some of these ideas…
#1 – Reading Rewards
Reward your child with a sticker each time they finish reading a book. After they’ve read a certain number of books, reward them with a new toy, a trip to the zoo, or something else that you know they’ll love. Rewards are a superb way to motivate reluctant readers to read; however, it doesn’t automatically guarantee they’ll instantly start to love books, it will help to boost their reading skills and move them in the right direction.
#2 – Reading Must Be Meaningful
Research has indicated that children find learning to read easier if they’re taught how the English language words, rather then merely phonics. For example, the word ‘do’ is the ‘root word’ for words such as ‘doing’, ‘did’, and ‘does’. Words are not merely the sound of speech; they convey meaning. Therefore, teaching this is crucial to boost reading ability and your child’s overall understanding of the English language.
#3 – Book Clubs
There are many online book clubs where children can write book reviews, read parts of new books, enter competitions, and even take part in quizzes. By introducing your child to fun activities that involve and are associated with reading, you’re more likely to pique their interest and increase their desire to read. Making things fun and enjoyable is always advised where learning is concerned, so make sure this extends to reading as well!
#4 – Be Topical
If your child doesn’t appear to be interested in fictional books, why not introduce them to factual books or news instead? A website called First News is an online newspaper for children and showcases the latest world news and current affairs in a format and language that is child-friendly.
#5 – Book Swap Party
Exchanging books with classmates and friends, is a fantastic way to give your child new reading material, in addition to encouraging them to read books that they themselves may not have chosen. Positive use of peer pressure can be a helpful tool when trying to promote a reluctant reader to pick up books, particularly if their friends all love to read.
#6 – Use Noise
Always encourage your child to read aloud, either by themselves, to you or another family member, to toys – anything or anyone. Hearing their own voice will not only build reading confidence but also helps them practise speaking too.
#7 – Easy Access
If you’ve got the room and budget, why not install a bookshelf in your child’s room? Children are often more likely to pick up a book and read if they’re in a comfortable, relaxing environment in which they feel safe and not pressured, so by providing your child with easy access to books in their own little sanctuary; you may increase their interest and desire to read. Plus, it’s perfect for bedtime reading!
#8 – Get The Family Involved
If your child has older siblings, invite their brothers or sisters to read to them and vice versa. Not only does this give parents time off, but it also prompts younger children to follow in their siblings’ footsteps and increases the desire to read. Children often view older siblings as role models; therefore, if an older sibling loves reading, it’s more likely a younger child will want to read too – even if they were previously reluctant.
#9 – Magazines and Comics
Although magazines and comics are often viewed as low-brow reading materials, they can be useful tools for encouraging even the most reluctant of readers – particular boys. Take your child to your newsagent and browse the magazine and comic section with them. If they show an interest in a particular magazine or comic, then don’t hesitate to buy it for them. At the end of the day, any reading material is better than no reading material.
#10 – Their Interests
Even as adults, we’re unlikely to choose books and reading material on topics we’re not interested in – and this goes for children too. Identify your child’s favourite subjects, and buy books related to them. Although children ideally need to read a wide range of topics across fiction and non-fiction, if your child is reluctant to read at all, focusing on areas they are interested in is the best way to get the ball rolling.
#11 – Get Pets Involved
Some children don’t like reading aloud to other humans, be that a teacher, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. If your child isn’t a fan of reading aloud when someone else is there, why not ask them to read to their pet(s) instead? Pets are uncritical listeners and will often make even the most anxious of readers feel more comfortable reading aloud. This will help to build your child’s reading confidence and show them that reading aloud is nothing to be scared of.
#12 – Cure Boredom with a Book
Wherever you go, take some books with you. By doing this, your child will fill any time they have with reading, such as waiting at the dentist or if they become bored and restless at a family gathering. In examples like this, your child has two options: continue to be bored or read a book to stave off the boredom. Even the most reluctant of readers will choose the latter option, simply because no-one likes being bored!
#13 – Go Beyond School Books
Open your child’s eyes the almost impossibly huge world of books and reading. Show them that there are many millions of books outside of school and school reading books. Some children associate reading and books with school and, therefore, have a negative opinion of books because of this. By showing your child there is far more to the world of books and reading than just what they experience at school; you’ll provide them with almost endless reading opportunities. The more opportunities you give them, the more likely they are to take at least one of them.
#14 – Meet The Author
Keep an eye out for meet-and-greets with authors in your local area. Receiving a book that has been hand-signed by the author is a great incentive to read as your child will feel special and as if they’ve made a connection with the author. Check out the websites of local bookshops and libraries to keep up-to-date with what’s going on.
#15 – Make Your Child The Centre of Attention
If there’s one thing that can turn the head of even the most unwilling of readers, it’s a personalised book. Children love personalised books because it’s all about them! Putting your child right into the centre of a story will make them feel special and will undoubtedly encourage them to find out what happens. Some personalised books even have the option of adding photos.
#16 – Book-based Games
Many TV shows and movies are based on books, so if your child is interested in a certain TV series or set of movies, play games related to these. By increasing their levels of interest and the fun they have about a particular character or story, they’re more likely to want to read the books associated with said characters and stories.
#17 – “Boovies”
As you’ve probably guessed, the word” boovie” is an amalgamation of “book” and “movie”…but what are they and how can they help reluctant readers? In short, this is simply a “book in motion”, i.e. a book that combines printed words with pop-ups, animated pictures, a soundtrack/audio narration etc. This type of book can induce higher levels of engagement than a regular book and is, therefore, a fantastic option for unwilling readers.
#18 – Set The Best Example
The very best reading role models are in a child’s home: mothers, sisters, grandmothers, fathers, brothers, grandfathers – so make sure your child sees you and everyone else in your household reading on a frequent basis. It doesn’t matter what you read, just be seen reading!
How To Get Your Child Interested in Reading: A Summary
Although it can be certainly be worrying to realise that your child is a reluctant reader, there are many, many ways to give them a helping hand and help them to move in the right direction where reading is concerned. Despite not being exhaustive, the list above should provide you with many tips, tricks, methods, and strategies with which to encourage reading in even the most unwilling of readers. But don’t just stick to the 18 ideas above; think outside the box and come up with ideas of your own! In reality, the list of activities and games that could be used to promote reading is almost endless, so stay positive and try as many techniques as possible. You’ll find some that will work, I promise!