6 Easy Ways to Motivate Your Children to Read
1. Read aloud to them.
Reading with you children accomplishes several things. Perhaps the most important is that you are taking time for them. This will send a message that they are important. The fact that books are a part of this important setting will help the children have a positive connection with reading and books in general. However, if you are always too busy to sit down and read with your children, the children will pick up on your cues regarding the importance of reading. Why should our children love reading if we are too busy to do it with them? They would rather do something that they can do with us. I am amazed at how many times my younger children will come and ask if they can help me do something that I don’t like doing: like shoveling the driveway, cleaning the garage, etc. The fact is that children want to be with their parents. We can get them excited about reading by making that an activity we do together.
2. Combine activities with the books.
My eleven year-old son came to us and asked if he could go to Les Miserables. This was about the same time as the movie was playing and I said, “No way. That movie is completely inappropriate for someone your age.” He replied, “There is a movie? I was talking about the play.” Ok… well, that was a different story. Now, this particular child has never struggled being motivated to read, but I saw an opportunity to broaden his view. I agreed to get him tickets to the play if he would read the copy of Les Miserables that we had at home. It was an abridged version, but it still had over 800 pages. He took the challenge and he and his mom got to go see the play. Luckily, a theatre nearby was doing that show the following spring.
3. Set the example by reading yourself.
We started a thing in our family where we all read at the same time. Everyone picks a book and we all go in the living room and read quietly. Children love doing what their parents do and when they see you reading, they will want to join in as well. It shows them that reading is something they will do the rest of their life instead of just while they are in school.
4. Share what you are reading.
In addition to letting your children see you reading, share with them some of your favorite quotes from the book you are currently reading, explain the storyline, or important lessons you have learned from it. Sharing these kinds of things with them about your book will make it an easy transition when you want them to talk about their book. Not reading anything right now… well, it is time to get started. Click here for our list of suggested readings for parents.
5. Surround them with reading material.
Fill your home with magazines, books, and other reading material and just see what your children pick up and really get into. Don’t have a lot of money to build a library of your own: get a library card and check out a wide variety of books. Then just see what gets picked up and what gets left behind. This will also give you some insights into what your children are currently interested in and help you start conversations about those interests.
6. Allow them to focus on their interests.
Don’t give your children a bunch of rules surrounding their reading. Let’s face it, force at the school to read books that they did not pick out kills the motivation for many students. Don’t do that to them at home. Remember the fine line between encouraging and nagging. Nobody wants to be nagged. Allow your children some wiggle-room with what they read. Regardless of what they are reading–even that silly Pokemon book–your children are building their reading skills.