When I was a kid, I loved to read. Books, comics, magazines, pamphlets, leaflets, restaurant menus, posters, telephone directories…you name it, I wanted to read it. Any spare moment I had was spent with my head in a book. I found reading, learning new words, and losing myself in stories by far and away the most enjoyable and exciting thing I could do! In short, reading was brilliant.
However, the same couldn’t be said for my younger brother. We were like chalk and cheese where reading was concerned. He’d actively do anything to avoid reading at school or at home, and I mean anything – chores included! He’d happily complete all of his other homework on time, gladly sitting down for an hour each evening to do his math or science homework, but when reading came around he was out of there! In short, he loathed reading.
The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that some children love to read, whilst others detest it. This is no doubt the case for all subjects; however, given that reading is one of the most vital life skills, if not the most vital, as a parent it can be very worrying if your child has no interest in reading and therefore isn’t making the progress required.
This unenviable predicament leads many parents to ask: “How can I make my child want to read?”.
We all know that making a child do something they’re not a fan of can lead to stress, tantrums, arguments, and potentially, with regard to regard to reading specifically, a deep-seated dislike for a skill that is absolutely essential for their overall learning; therefore, what can we, as parents, do to encourage our child to read?
Well, let us begin by saying that even if your child despises reading, it doesn’t mean they’re a lost cause. Any situation is salvageable, regardless of how dead-set against reading your little one might be. The key to this is making reading fun. It must be enjoyable, engaging, and make them happy; otherwise, they’re simply not going to want to do it again. You must facilitate the connection between reading and positive, happy emotions and feelings, which can be achieved through a myriad of strategies, 12 of which are listed below.
12 Ways To Make Reading Fun and Enjoyable For Your Child
#1 – Choose Books Your Child Will Enjoy
Although this may seem like a very obvious statement to make, you’d be surprised at just how many children have no interest in reading because they’re not excited by the books themselves. Even though books they receive from school are designed to be engaging, in some cases your child may simply not enjoy the topic or story and will therefore kick up a fuss at having to read it! To minimise this type of reaction, it is crucial that you discuss with your child what kind of books they’d like to read. It doesn’t really matter what they’re interested in as you’ll always be able to find suitable books, but it’s essential to sit down with your child and speak to them about what excites and interests them.
#2 – Reading Aloud = Excitement!
The last thing any child who struggles with reading needs is to be left alone to read by themselves; therefore, you’ve got to play your part and make home reading as fun as possible. How can you do this? By reading aloud with your child. Reading aloud instantly adds excitement to ay book. Period. You can use different voices and accents for each character and add expression for dramatic and funny parts. Take it in turns to read, either page by page or character by character. Doing this will really help to improve their overall reading skills, but also boost their confidence when reading aloud, something that many children struggle with.
#3 – Put On Your Acting Hat
This leads on from the above point, but acting out the story can add extra excitements, fun, and probably giggles to reading aloud with your child. Don’t just stop at voices, use hand gestures, ask your child to draw pictures of what’s happening in the story, create alternative endings – anything that involves creativity will always aid learning!
#4 – Don’t Just Read Books
Reading isn’t just about books. As adults, we spend the majority of our time reading everything but books. We spend far more time reading websites, menus, newspapers, magazines, posters, signposts…the list could go on for a long time! Even though there is no doubt that books are an exceptional learning tool, it’s essential that your child reads ‘the world around them’ too. For example, if you’ve received a leaflet or pamphlet through the door with your mail, hand it to your child and ask them to read it. Or, if you’re at a restaurant, ask them to read the menu. This is highly beneficial as your child will not only be practising their general reading skills, they will also come across new words and reading in a different situation to the ones they’re used to, i.e. home and school. By doing this, your child will be enhancing their reading skills without knowing it, which is perfect for those who are reluctant to read.
#5 – Build Them A Reading Area
Being confident and relaxed go hand in hand; there more relaxed you are, the more confident you tend to be and vice versa. If reading causes your child stress and anxiety, why not create them their very own reading space? Fill it full of blankets, pillows, cushions, and anything else that helps your child to relax. Whenever they have the urge to read, your child can simply make themselves comfortable and get stuck into a story!
#6 – Connection Between Books And Life Are Important
If your child isn’t finding reading fun, try to make connections between the books they read and real-life to stimulate interest and intrigue. For example, if you’re going on vacation to a specific country, suggest reading a book about the said country. Or, if you’re visiting a museum, read books about dinosaurs or ancient civilisations. If your child is excited about a particular trip, they will be far more inclined to read about it, which is an excellent opportunity for them to advance their reading skills further.
#7 – Give Your Child Free Rein
It’s not uncommon for children to become switched off where reading is concerned if the books available to them aren’t stimulating their brain. But it’s not just about providing your child with a more fun and enjoyable experience when reading; it’s also about giving them more control. The more control a child has over their book choices, the greater the chance they’ll stay interested in the book. Of course, there has to be some form of guidelines, but allow your child almost wholly free rein over book and reading choices will undoubtedly enhance their levels of interest in something they aren’t all that fond of doing.
#8 – Consider Audio Books
Although the use of audiobooks is a contentious issue within the learning/teaching community, they can be an absolute godsend for parents whose child is reluctant or struggling to read. Reading ability doesn’t just centre around reading books; it involves comprehension and phonics also – two key components of reading and language learning progression. Listening to audiobooks can help to enhance your child’s reading compression ability. Listening to audiobooks is a perfect way for your child to learn and relax, which is so important in today’s world.
#9 – Unsure Which Book To Read Next? Start A Series.
One of the biggest challenges facing parents of a child who is reluctant or struggling to read is finding books that will interest and excite their child. Even if a book is found, they’re often left in the same predicament once the book is finished. The solution? Start a series of book. If your child loves a particular story or character, more books that contain characters and stories they enjoy will make reading times a breeze. Alternatively, find books written by the same author. Children can often prefer a certain style or genre of book, so by keeping to a specific author, you increase the chances of your child enjoying the book. Of course, for the sake of their reading progression they will need to be some diversification of texts, but to get the ball rolling it is wise to opt for a series or set of books written by one author.
#10 – Schedule Reading Time
Having a routine is beneficial for learning, so setting aside a reading hour or half-hour every evening is an excellent way to instil structure and help your child to read. How long you/you and your child read is entirely up to you; judge it on their ability to concentrate and enjoyment. It’s better to stop a reading session early than leave it too late and getting past the point of no return where your child is disinterested and, therefore, not advancing their reading skills. At the end of each session, take five or ten minutes to ask your child what they like and dislike about the story or the book, as well as asking them what they think will happen next. Reading isn’t just about reading the text and putting the book down; learning continues beyond the words on the pages. Discuss every book your child reads as this will help them to vocalise their thoughts and feelings, in addition to you gaining a better understanding of their progress and preferences.
#11 – Visit The Library
Children are often in awe of the sheer number of books that exist in libraries, so taking a trip to your nearest library is one way to introduce your child to the gigantic and exciting world of books! All libraries have dedicated children’s section, which are great for not only finding books for your child but also taking some time out in a comfortable, quiet environment to read. Let your child explore the library at their own pace and ask them to go and choose any book they like. Even the most reluctant readers will leave a library with at least one book in their hand! Furthermore, visiting your local library also provides quality parent and child time, which further fosters positive feelings associated with books and reading.
#12 – Boost Reading Motivation Through Strategy
Children often don’t enjoy reading because they don’t have confidence in their own abilities. If your child struggles with reading motivation, speak to his or her teacher about strategies to further develop their motivation to pick up books and read. Although it’s never easy to turn a book-shy child into a book-lover, teachers will typically have a trick or two up their sleeves that can help to encourage your child to want to read. Frequent, open, and honest communication with your child’s teachers is always the best course of action to further improve your children’s learning and reading ability.
How To Make Reading Fun: A Summary
It’s completely natural to feel concerned if your child is reluctant or struggling to read; however, there are a multitude of methods, strategies, and techniques that can be employed to encourage even to most unwilling of readers to become a bookworm in the making. To help facilitate your child’s development, ‘fun’ and ‘freedom’ must be your watchwords. Create an environment in which your child wants to read. Build a reading haven; let them choose books; read with them, and do everything you can to make them feel at ease where books are concerned. It will, of course, be a slow and gradual process, but it will be enriching for both your child and you once their excited and desire for books for exceeds anything either you or they thought possible.