How to Motivate Your Child to Read

5 ways to encourage your child to read and enjoy it.
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Parents commonly hear how important it is for their child to read: it can help promote critical thinking skills, expand vocabulary, increase focus, prepare for college, etc. Many parents, however, struggle with how to achieve this, especially as children are increasingly drawn to technology, screen-time and social media.

A crucial first step to helping your child read for fun is to motivate them to want to read. In our fast-paced world, attention spans grow slim, distractions increase and children are less likely to choose reading as their primary source of entertainment. Your child can grow to love reading when they see it as interesting, fun or relaxing. You can help motivate your child to read by using the strategies below:

1. Model healthy reading habits. Children observe their parents and often imitate their behavior. If you tell your child to read every day, but rarely do so yourself, they may question why they should. Read books that your child is reading to bond with them. Talk about a favorite chapter you read while in the car on the way to the store. Go to the library together and pick out books for the whole family to enjoy.

2. Add reading to the daily routine. Create a designated “quiet time” where each family member chooses a book of their choice to read for an agreed-upon amount of time. Comic books count! Design a "reading space" that is inviting and comfortable. It's OK for your child to lie on the couch or sprawl out on the floor during this time.

3. Read books that have been made into movies. Create a list of books that have been adapted into movies. At the beginning of each month, have your child choose a book of their choice from the list. Once your child has completed the book, schedule a movie night to watch the adaptation. Afterward, you and your child can compare and contrast the book and movie versions. Here are some examples:

  • Harry Potter
  • The Hunger Games
  • Percy Jackson
  • The Bridge to Terabithia
  • The Giver
  • The Hobbit
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • The Chronicles of Narnia

4. Introduce your child to new topics. When your child is exposed to a wide variety of topics, he or she is likely to gain new interests and hobbies. When you notice your child talking about a subject and/or asking questions, use the library as a resource to help quench your child's curiosity. Here are interactive ways to learn about new topics:

  • Take your child to a museum.
  • Visit the local zoo.
  • Expose your child to new surroundings: If you live in a city, visit a farm, nature reserve or historical site. 
  • Attend cultural and community events.

5. Set goals. The task of reading a book for pleasure on top of daily assignments and extracurricular activities may feel overwhelming to your child. Break the process down into small, manageable goals so that it feels achievable. For example: 

  • Read for 20 minutes every Saturday morning after breakfast.
  • Schedule one family reading session a month.
  • Read one chapter a week.
  • Set a goal for how many books each family member aims to read over the course of the year.

Create the goals with your child so they feel a sense of ownership. Help them develop a checklist or chart to monitor their progress, some families include a small reward at the end of each week or month when the goals have been met. 

Maryanne Hogan is a learning coach and K-12 tutor who specializes in teaching executive functioning skills to students with ADD/ADHD and providing academic support in a variety of areas including ELA, SAT Reading/Writing and Language test prep, and Spanish. She received her master’s degree in elementary education along with a K-12 reading endorsement from the University of Florida.