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10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Love Reading

Lauren Dungy
Lauren Dungy is an early childhood education specialist, a bestselling author, and mother of seven children.
Read more about Lauren Dungy
Some kids are born readers.  Some aren't.  But, all children can grow to at least like reading if you use some, or all, of these 10 approaches:

1. Embrace technology.  Okay, there is something wonderful about seeing your child curled up with a book rather than some electronic device.  But, an e-reader might entice your reluctant reader to actually sit down and get started.  Plus, there are so many free books out there, including great classics, that your child might actually read more if given the chance to explore what's available.

2. Create a reading hide-out or a cozy spot for your readers. Lure your children into reading by coming up with a spot for reading only; a spot so enchanting or fun, they'll want to read just to be able to enter!  It doesn't have to be anything fancy—drape some blankets over chairs and make a tent.  Fill it with fluffy pillows and a stack of books.  Put a bowl of candy inside with a note that reads: "For every chapter read, please eat one of these." Also, leave a copy of iMOM's book chart and our reading reward chart in their reading corners so they can track their progress.

3. Hook 'em, then reel them in.  One mom I heard about does this to get her kids to read on their own:  She'll start reading aloud and then excuse herself to cook dinner.  The kids are already so interested in the story that they'll take the book themselves and read, to see what happens next.

4. Make the library an adventure.  Gather up the kids and head to the library.  Get them their own library card.  Let them check out on their own.  Tell them they need to check out at least five books.  When you leave, head to a yogurt shop or a park.  Pull out one of the books and dive right into it, reading aloud while they eat their snack or lie on the grass.

5. Start a family reading night or book club.  Make your book club night special and fun.  Snuggle in your bed with the kids or sit by the fire.  Have a chart in their rooms where they can check off the chapters they read so they can be prepared for the next book club night. 

6. Read to reluctant readers.  Even if your child can read on his own, keep reading to him.  This will allow you to gauge what interests him and holds his attention.  It will also allow you to read books that might be too difficult for him, but he still enjoys the story.

7. It's the words that matter. Yes, you want your kids to read quality material, but there's nothing wrong with letting them read magazines, the sports section of the newspaper or other "non-book" material.

8. Be a reading cheerleader.  Kids model our behavior, mom.  Let them see you reading.  Talk about what you're reading.  One mom I know, while reading War and Peace, had fun with her kids by showing them how big the book was.  They became interested in her progress and would ask her what page she was on.  It also gave her the chance to introduce them to a great writer and share bits and pieces of world history.

9. Don't make reading a punishment.  If you have a non-reader, it can be very tempting to use reading as a discipline tool.  "If you hit your sister again, you're going to have to read for 20 minutes!"  But, this will only make your non-reader dread opening a book even more.

10. Find their love.  What is your child interested in?  What captivates them or keeps their attention?  Try different genres—adventure, non-fiction, biographies—until you hit upon the one that will make your child want to read.

Recommended Reading

Raising Kids Who Read. Created by the Abundant Assets Alliance, this booklet reinforces the vital parent- or adult-child relationship, and supports children’s ability to read for fun and become lifelong learners.