Wondering what can you do to make your children love books? I am sharing 18 different ways to encourage reading habit in children plus 3 reasons why your child may be hating books… These tips will help even the most reluctant reader want to pick up a book.
If you have been following my blog for sometime, you will know that I write a lot about books and reading here. We love reviewing books, creating activities based on books and more. Today, let me tell you some tips that I guarantee will help you. Just work on any or all of them, God Willing, your child will take interest.
Is it normal if my child hates reading?
If you have a preschooler or a kindergartner, a child aged 3-6 years, they may either love to read and write or they may hate it. Yes, it is absolutely normal for them and please rest assured things will improve for those who dislike reading.
Kindergarten is an age of very fast development. A child who was still struggling with pulling his pants up will be tying his shoes in just a few months. They couldn’t jump off a chair but they will be hoping on one foot as they play hopscotch!
There are so many things to learn and so many skills to master. Cut with scissors, color inside the lines, not move about too often in class, how to make those letters, counting… there is so much to learn and grasp. It is absolutely normal if your child embraces reading right away or decides to take it up after sometime.
My eldest was a slow reader. In fact, he couldn’t understand two letter words until the term before he was to graduate Kindergartner. Frustrated with him and his teachers, I changed schools. He was reading within a month!
Was it his teachers or was it their method?
I asked myself this question over and over again till I had one more book lover. This year I have another one.
How important is a school and teachers in helping your child embrace reading
Teachers, the education system and the right books play a big role in all of this. You can read my post about The Importance of Choosing the Right School for Your Child to understand what I mean and how I struggled till I got it right. The syllabus, the books your child is reading, your teacher’s attitude to reading, it all makes a difference.
But there is one more thing: You. The parent plays the biggest part in encouraging the reading habit in their children.
Why does my child hate to read?
- He hasn’t discovered books yet. There are so many different types of books but not all appeal to everyone. May be the book you are offering your child isn’t his kind. May be he likes soft illustrations, or wild ones, black and white or all colors. May be he likes silly funny books or may be it is sing-along ones that attract him. We all have our preferences so why not our children?
- He has no time for it. Yes, sometimes unknowingly, we fill our child’s day with so many things that it becomes totally exhausting for him to take interest in other things. One of those distractions is screen time. If your TV is on at a time when he can be taking interest in books or if he was given a tablet that interests him more, would he want to pick a book?
- He hasn’t seen anyone enjoy a book. Readers have readers all around them. They have seen at least one person enjoying a book that led them to take interest. A child who sees adults or siblings reading will be curious to see what they are doing. 🙂
Do you agree with these reasons? Let me show you 18 ways that a child can discover, enjoy and have time for books in his life.
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Tips for parents to help encourage the reading habit at home
Your home environment and approach to reading can 10x your child’s reading. Yes, you can grow a child who loves books too. Sometimes just a little tweak is enough, sometimes you have to try a bit harder. Don’t worry, I hope these tips below help you in encouraging your child easily.
- Make reading a part of your family life. Let them see you read by yourself and to others. It doesn’t matter if it is the newspaper, or on a tablet; you can read faith based books, comics, magazines. If English isn’t your language, you can read in any other language too. Let your children see that books, reading, writing, hearing others read (audiobooks included) is your family’s culture. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.
- Join a library. Libraries are the easiest way to grow children who love to read and want books. I have a list of Libraries in Jeddah here that I have tested with my own kids. I bought a membership for my children when they were mere months old. The youngest two got their membership at birth! I would take them in their carseat and place them on the floor, while I helped their brother find books for himself. We would come home and read to the babies. I have seen my boy read a board book to his sleeping sister. Kids love being treated to a library membership. They feel grown up and important!
- Have books at home. Having books at home has its own advantages. Try to keep them at their level so they can reach for it whenever they like. I remember my toddlers would walk up and pull out a book and sit on the floor staring at the pictures. To little children, books and toys are no different. They see color and fun. What a better way to introduce learning!
- Read to them irrespective of their age. I learnt this lesson last year. My son (then 10yrs old) was speaking with an accent. We started spending ten minutes reading to each other and it made so much difference to not just his reading but our relationship too. Those reading sessions turned out to be conversation starters for us. It would never last ten minutes and sometimes the bed time got stretched but we both went to bed with warmth in our hearts.
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- Let them choose what books they like. Last year, my son’s teacher took him shopping for books as a prize for maintaining a reading log through the year. He came home with three books – a comic, a book on crafts and a history book. I was amazed by his choice. He spent the next 10 days finishing those books and our home was littered with tiny origami creations. My kids still pull those books out. This year my daughter went book shopping with me. She bought three books, two of which she hates. Think of childhood as an opportunity to train them to make the right choices. Let them make mistakes now and learn from them while you are around with guidance. They will make less mistakes when they are older.
- Make it a rule that everyone reads for at least 10 minutes everyday. If you have a preschooler or a kindergartner who is just starting out, these 10 minutes will super charge them! They may already have read a story at school. Since it is just a few words they are learning every week, these 10 minutes will help them learn very fast. I understand some preschoolers will give a hard time. My youngest was like that so I would read the lesson out loud for her. She had to sit in my lap and she see in the book. When I finished it was time to walk away. I would purposefully make a mistake or ask a question and she had no choice but to correct me. Those 10 minutes made her my baby. She could sit in my lap, have my attention and hear me read. It was quality time.
- Turn off the WIFI. Limit screen time for everyone. The best way to encourage children to read or learn anything new is to get them bored. Think back to your own childhood, did you have screens distracting you? Kids act up, discover, invent, create and get naughty when they are bored. That is how childhood should be. No?
- Keep a reading log and have reading goals. I do this personally. I keep little chits of paper in my books where I take notes. I also have a page in my notebook where I write down about the books I read. My son noticed this when he was 4years old. The next day, I saw him writing names of books in his notebook! Now a days, he has a proper reading log that he impresses his friends and teachers with.
- Don’t answer their questions all the time. Let them look it up. This is one simple trick that will grow teachers who love to look up answers by themselves. Do you children come and ask elaborate mind blowing questions too? The first time I asked my son to go look it up, I confess I felt guilty and a real bad mom. But I was feeding my child and he was talking too much. SO I told him to go to our bookshelf and pull out the book which had answers to his question. Peace. When he came back he had answers for me and the pride of knowing them glowing on his face.
- Talk about authors and illustrators. A child who reads about the people who wrote those amazing stories and imagined that beautiful art will see real life heroes with magic paint brushes and wizards who can cast spell on people’s minds. They will want to copy them. Give your child them role models. Show them how people who didn’t have the means to education won big prizes and made a name for themselves.
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- Let them write stories. Give them books and pages to fill. As your child discovers books, he will want to write books himself. Encourage it! Let them imagine themselves as little publishers. My son in grade 2 wrote little stories on paper, colored them and sold them off to his friends. I found out after he bought home the money. His friends were trading cards, he thought this was a good idea, he said!
- Tell them stories but not just from books. Stories from your childhood, how you saved a glass plate from falling off the counter and shattering into a billion pieces… say it animatedly placing yourself in the middle as a hero. Stories of your grandpa and grandma when they were kids pre-independence- your children are all listening and taking notes. They will want to pick a history book and look up what really happened.
- Have a bedtime routine that involves books. Bedtimes and books are the best routines. You can see a sample of our routine here to know what we do. The last few minutes before bed is the time when children have the most retention. Saying stories, praying together and having good thoughts really helps your child’s emotional well being.
- Include rhyme, repetition and silliness in your choice of books so that they enjoy what they are reading. Let your children see how much fun words can be. Here is a good article on why repetition and rhyming books are important.
- Read favorites again and again. Whether they are small babies or older preschoolers, grade schoolers or even we adults, we have favorites. Reading books they like over and over helps children recognize words and see how they are formed. They will also listen to them pronounce better. Favorite books is not about just words but those pictures may be interesting for your child. So it’s okay to read that book for the 20th time that day.
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- Let them practice what they are learning. It may be just family words (-an, -en, -op, etc) and sight words (in, is, of, the, etc) for preschoolers. But bigger words may benefit from revising those big words to spell and learn meanings of.
- Encourage them to make cards for everyone around them. Thank you cards, birthday cards, get well cards, invitations, seasons greetings, postcards… let them send and receive them. They are practicing good manners, loving on people and they are using what they are learning. They will ask you to spell things out to write those messages and in the process they are learning to read and write!
- Book crafts and activities. In the same way as cards, activities involving books will encourage your child to remember the name of the book and the art they saw. This has been my experience with my children especially. I did not grow up reading authors and illustrators or crafting book related crafts but my children, as we do these often love to be so involved with their books.
I hope these tips above help you in encouraging your children to read. Let me know in the comments what is working for you.