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Knowing how to get kids to read is a challenge for most parents. For many of us, it’s a daily battle. Here are 7 tips to encourage kids to read without a fight.

A boy reading a book over a photo of a girl reading a book

Some kids love to read. Others…not so much. If you have one (or more) reluctant readers in your home, getting them to read–especially for homework–can feel like a long, never-ending chore. Most kids have a natural inclination to hate anything homework related, so this is a hard challenge to tackle. Here are 7 tips to help encourage your kids to read, no matter how reluctant they are.

1. Keep books all around your house.

This is key in helping kids read! Instead of keeping all the books on a bookshelf in one room, scatter them throughout the house. Keep a stack of books by each kid’s bed. Put a basket by the toilet. Keep a bin of books on the kitchen table to read during breakfast or snack time. Store books in the seat pockets in the car. The more readily available books are, the more likely kids are to reach for them.

2. Relax about what they’re reading.

One tough, but true, key to encouraging reluctant readers is relaxing about what type of books they read. Do I wish my kids would always read quality books like Charlotte’s Web and The Goose Girl? Sure. But would I rather my kid read a cheesy Lego book than not read at all? Absolutely!

So let your reluctant reader choose her own books. It can be really hard to let go of that control, but if they’re interested in what the book is about, they’re more likely to actually read it.

This tips applies to reading level as well. If your kid loves a book series well below his or her reading level, that’s fine! Sometimes it’s those easy books that get our kids to fall in love with reading. The time will come when your child will pick up tougher books. If they’re reading and enjoying it, let them be.

3. Read with them.

Once a kid learns to read on his own, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop reading out loud to him. Quite the opposite, in fact. Reading out loud to kids teaches them lots of reading skills-how the rhythm of sentences should sound, following a storyline, painting a picture in their mind of the characters/story, etc.

Make this fun! Give them a yummy snack to eat while you read. Read in a fort. Snuggle up in your bed. Let your kids build their Legos or draw while you read. The more fun you make it, the more they’ll look forward to it.

Another trick is to read a few chapters of a book out loud to your kids, then walk away. Once they’re engaged in the story, they might just pick it up and read on their own to see what happens next!

4. Get both the physical and audiobook copies.

Have your kid listen to the audiobook while they follow along in the physical copy. Many reluctant readers don’t read because they struggle with the actual reading (not all–some kids just really don’t like to read). But if your kid struggles with reading, she’s not going to want to do it. So let her listen to the audiobook and follow along in her own copy. She’s still learning a lot of great reading skills this way and gaining a ton of benefits. Over time, she’ll gain more confidence and be ready to read on her own.

5. Let them see YOU read.

This is one I think a lot of parents struggle with, myself included (I do most of my reading in bed at night). But how can we expect our kids to read 15 minutes per day if they never see us pick up a book of our own? And how can we teach them that reading is important and fun, if we don’t model this for them? If we want to raise readers, we must BE readers. I know it’s hard to find the time to read, but we’ve got to make some sacrifices and make it a priority to give our kids the best possible chance at reading success.

6. Read together as a family.

This can take a couple different forms: reading a book out loud together, taking turns reading each page OR gathering together on the couch, setting a timer, and reading individually. We like to call this Family Reading Time. Even 5-10 minutes does the trick!

If you read individually, you can let nonreaders listen to audiobooks during this time. There are even apps that will let them follow along with the pictures as it reads the words out loud!

One word of advice: lower your expectations of how this will go. Sometimes kids will complain. Sometimes kids will fight during this time. Sometimes the toddler will decide to leave and go play with toys (or dump out a full box of Goldfish). That’s life. But even when it doesn’t go as planned, your kids are learning the importance of reading.

I used to be really uptight about our Family Reading Time. But once I relaxed and expected my kids to *gasp* actually act like kids, I enjoyed it a whole lot more. And they did too.

7. Plan fun surrounding a book.

Look at the book your kid is reading. If it’s a dinosaur story, create a dino dig in the sandbox in your backyard one afternoon. If they’re reading a silly story, spend an afternoon telling jokes. If their book is set in France, make a French dish for dinner one night. Maybe the book they’re reading has a movie version. Challenge them to finish it by a certain date, and if they do, have a family movie night with yummy snacks. Give them a little something more to make the reading extra special.

What do you do to encourage your kids to read?

If you liked this post, check out the rest of the Back to School series:

And if you’re looking for more info on reading, check out these posts:



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