If you are a book lover or a life-long reader, it might stump you to have a child who not only doesn’t gravitate toward reading, but actually actively dislikes it.
You might never get that child to list reading as their very favorite activity, but there are some great ways to make reading more enjoyable for your child.
Here are some of my best suggestions for how to make reading fun for kids:
tips on how to make reading fun for kids
- Focus more on connection than reading. Keep in mind what your real goal is – you probably value your connection and relationship with your child more than you value them having read specific books at specific ages. Books can be a great way to create that connection – reading aloud or sharing an audiobook or bringing home a book to say “this reminded me of you – I thought you might enjoy checking it out!”
- Let them pick their own books. Reading something you’ve picked yourself is generally way more fun than something that has been assigned to you. Browse the library or bookshelves, give them a bunch of options to choose from or scroll through a book list together and see what catches their eye!
- Try interactive books. I love an interactive book for a child who is struggling to see the fun in reading – I have a whole list of interactive books here!
- Switch up formats and genres. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that everyone has their own reading tastes and preferences and your child might have different preferences than you do. Try graphic novels or audiobooks or joke books or non-fiction. And it’s great if they like different books than you did at their age!
- Try audiobooks. This is a great way to help kids have positive experiences with books if they struggle with the physical act of reading – they can get sucked in to a terrific story without the stress of sounding out every word. My kids listen during quiet time or before bed and love it.
- Have books that are anticipated at certain ages. I loved this suggestion from an Instagram audience member who said they had certain books that they read with their children at milestone birthdays (say, starting the Harry Potter series when they turned 8). I love this way of making books something to look forward to and anticipate!
- Listen to audiobooks in the car. This can be such a great shared experience and make something kind of tedious into something fun. I’ve loved the books we’ve listened to as a family, whether on a road trip or as we ran errands around town.
- Let them play while you read aloud to them. Many kids listen and comprehend BETTER when they’re able to move a little while you read aloud to them or while they listen to an audiobook. Whether it’s a puzzle, LEGOs, Play-Doh, coloring, or something else, hand them something to do and watch how much better they listen!
- Have special reading snacks. Just like you have special treats at holidays, having certain snacks or treats that only come out during reading time is a way to make that time feel special and fun and something to look forward to.
- Go to the library. It’s pretty nice when professionals want to put on a great story time for your child and help them see reading as a fun thing plus something that can be shared with others. Or your librarian can suggest books or help find books on a certain topic. And it’s a great time to browse the shelves and see what catches your child’s eye!
- Let them quit books that aren’t working for them. I am a FIRM believer in letting your child (and you!) quit books that aren’t working for you. Slogging through something because your parent won’t let you quit is unlikely to help develop a love of reading and instead just create bad feelings about books and reading in general.
- Don’t badmouth their book choices. Your child might gravitate toward books that aren’t your first pick, but as long as they’re not truly objectionable to you, try to stay neutral about them. Comments like “I wish you’d read a REAL book instead of only graphic novels” is NOT going to help your child have good feelings about reading but instead likely to make them feel embarrassed and ashamed of their reading choices and create negative connotations with everything reading related and like they’re not “real” readers.
- Make books accessible. Keep library books within reach (once they’re old enough to not rip them), have a small bookcase in their room, stock up the Audible library, or keep a stack of books on the couch. The easier it is to reach for a book, the more likely they are to do so!
- Read together. If you have a struggling reader, it can feel really overwhelming to them to just be handed a book and expected to read. Reading together – whether they’re reading aloud to you, you’re silently reading the same book together or you’re switching off pages or chapter read aloud – can really help a child get into a book and not feel like they’re on their own to make reading happen.
- Have them read along while they listen to an audiobook. For lots of kids, it’s way easier to read if they can listen and then follow along in a physical book (some books even come with this built in feature!). Especially for school assignments or books that feel intimidating, this can be a terrific reading hack!
- Have family reading time. Just like you might have a family movie night, having a reading time where everyone reads their own book can be a really fun bonding time (plus let you sneak in some of your own reading!). Whether it’s 15 minutes before bed, 30 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, or part of your after-school routine a few days a week, try it out!
- Visit the bookstore. The great thing about a bookstore is that professionals spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to make books look as appealing as possible! Take advantage of their work and visit the bookstore for ideas of new books to try!
- Keep reading aloud. So many parents quit reading aloud to their kids once they can read on their own and that’s such a shame! As they get older, the books you can read together get more fun and it’s such a sweet time of connection. My mom kept reading aloud to me until I was a senior in high school and those are some of my sweetest childhood memories.
- Let them stay up later if they’re reading. terrific book lightMost kids do NOT love going to bed so the chance to stay up a little later reading is pretty appealing. (Bonus: get them this – my girls are obsessed!).
- Have them read to animals (real or stuffed!). Reading aloud is a great way to practice but can be intimidating for struggling readers. Reading to a non-judgmental pet or beloved stuffed animal or younger sibling is a great way to practice!
- Model a love of reading. Let them see you reading – you want them to understand that reading is part of a full, happy adult life! Set a timer for ten minutes and sit down on the couch with a book or show them the library books you’ve checked out for yourself or read them a funny passage over dinner from your book.
Any other favorite suggestions for how to make reading fun for kids? I’d love for you to share!
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