How do you get kids interested in reading?

child reading a book
child reading a book | Source

We all know how much information and knowledge can be gained from reading books, and it is fair to say that a large amount of the general knowledge we possess frequently comes from the books and newspapers we have read. If we can get our children interested in reading books from an early age we maximise their chances of being successful in life, and of being capable of securing well paid employment upon reaching adulthood. Of course the next question is going to be, 'But how do we get our kids interested in reading books in the first place?' The problem is so many children see reading as a chore, boring, hard work etc. What we need to do is find a way to encourage our children to want to read, not feel like they are being forced into doing something just because their parents and teachers want them to do it.

When I was growing up I quickly grew to love reading, in fact I was frequently to be found hiding under the duvet with a torch and a book long after I had been sent to bed. My problem was I would get so involved in the plot of the book that I simply had to read it to the end before I could put it down. It was not uncommon for me to finally finish the book and settle down to sleep when daylight was already filtering through my bedroom curtains. It got to the stage I could easily read my way through three books a day, and even on our trips to North Wales on holiday I would miss most of the delightful Welsh scenery we were driving through due to having my nose buried in a book (much to my Mum's frustration). The good news is that in the long run this love of reading paid off, and as a result I absorbed lots of useful knowledge along the way, as well as ending up with good spelling abilities and a strong desire to write for myself.

The Advantages of Getting Your Kids Interested in Reading

So firstly what are the advantages of getting your children or kids interested in reading? Some of you may turn around and list examples of successful people you have heard of who could barely read at all. The bottom line is that those people are rare, and this is usually the reason you hear about them. In a day and age where securing good employment is becoming more and more challenging, it is important that your children maximise their potential to be high achievers. The very basic requirement of most employers will be that their candidates can read and write, and they will quickly rule out a candidate who can't even fill in the application form properly. Some of the many advantages of being able to read include:

  • Better Qualifications
  • Better Job Prospects
  • Better General Knowledge
  • Better Spelling
  • Better Punctuation
  • Better Grammar
  • Better Social Skills (can read menus in restaurants etc)
  • Better Romantic Prospects (potential partners will have more respect for someone who can read easily)

How to Get Your Kids Interested in Reading

Getting children interested in reading can be done very subtly most of the time. For instance when my sister and I were growing up our Mum would read us bedtime stories every night. The ones I remembered best though were the C.S. Lewis Narnia books. We would lie in our beds riveted by the storyline, and of course when Mum said 'that's enough for tonight', we would immediately plead for 'just one more chapter'. I strongly believe this need to know 'what happened next' lead to our deciding to read and find out for ourselves rather than wait for our next bedtime. Of course the key to this strategy working is to read your children exciting books that capture their imaginations, and today books like the Harry Potter series spring to mind. I would recommend the following methods to get your kids interested in reading without them seeing it as a chore.

  • Read to them every night before bed, making sure the books are interesting and exciting. Always finish reading at a point in the book where your children are left itching to know what is going to happen next.
  • Add sound effects when reading out story books, e.g. make animal noises to represent the creature you are reading about or creaking/squeaking sounds to represent an ancient door closing. Children love this and it helps to bring the story alive for them.
  • Buy them books that are on subjects they are already very interested in, e.g. football, horses, fantasy adventures, 'how to' books etc.
  • Encourage them to set up a book club with their friends where they take it in turns to suggest a book they all read at once, then meet up to discuss their thoughts on the book itself.
  • Enroll them in the local library. Most libraries have a children's section which is bright, fun and designed to capture their imaginations.
  • Buy them a magazine or comic subscription, ideally again on a subject they will enjoy or are already interested in.
  • Read yourself as this will encourage your children to follow your example.
  • Buy them some books of jokes suitable for children. Reading these will make them laugh, and as a result they will then associate reading with making them feel good.
  • Buy them quiz books and challenge them to organize a quiz for their friends . They will have to read the book to come up with the questions, and they will be learning at the same time on this basis. You could even get other parents involved and suggest it as a regular event. Each parent could provide the prizes for the winners when it is their child's turn to host the quiz.
  • If you know a popular book is being made into a movie then promise them a trip to see the movie if they first read the book so they can draw comparisons as to which was better and discuss them with you afterwards.
  • For those kids who are gadget and computer fans buy them a Kindle or other eBook reader, then let them choose a few books they would like to read from one of the online stores.
  • Make reading a game for your children from an early age. Ask them to read out the names of products in the supermarket or information on the back of their breakfast cereal packets. Give them lots of praise when they get it it right.
  • For young children choose books with lots of pictures or books that do things like play sounds when you press buttons. Popup books are also great fun for children.
  • Because reading tends to go hand in hand with writing (after all you can't really write a letter if you can't read), encourage your children to write thank you letters to family and friends who have bought them presents.
  • Keep books in the car so that on long journeys your children will read them to pass the time. Even games you keep in the car can be games that require reading out loud such as Trivial Pursuit.
  • At home play games like Scrabble as a family, again this is a great way for children to learn to spell and to read.
  • Challenge your children to create a crossword puzzle for you, their friends or even for a classroom project. Again they will need to check the spelling of the words they include as well as write the clues.
  • With very young children encourage them to read out loud to you and if they are struggling with a word get them to sound it out syllable by syllable. Demonstrate if necessary by following the syllables with your finger below the text as you slowly read out the word, then get them to have a go. The child will quickly learn to do this for themselves when they get stuck.
  • Create a treasure hunt, with one clue leading to the next clue and so on. You can then accompany your child on the treasure hunt and help them to read out the clues. At the end of the trail have a fun prize that will make your child want to play this game more often.

An Excellent Video

young girl enjoying reading
young girl enjoying reading | Source

It doesn't matter what your kids read, so long as they are reading. Even if you don't think a comic or a cereal packet is very educational, remember that 'out of little acorns mighty oak trees will grow'.

I for one grew up simply adoring Enid Blyton books, and to this day I would highly recommend them to anyone for their children. I know they were considered politically incorrect for a while, but I never understood why as I just found them incredibly exciting, magical and educational. Try some of the following for starters.

The Enchanted Wood

The Magic Faraway Tree

The Folk of the Faraway Tree

Up the Faraway Tree

The Malory Towers (boarding school) series

The St Clare's (boarding school) series

The Children of Cherry Tree Farm

The Children of Willow Farm

More Adventures on Willow Farm

#6 of 30 in March 2012 Challenge

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Comments 25 comments

Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

Reading is so important.. you should read to your young children and then have them help you read.. then watch them go..I had a wonderful 4th grade teacher that got me reading.. and I haven't stopped.. great hub

voted up and I am sharing

Debbie


KellyPittman profile image

KellyPittman 4 years ago from Walker, LA

Great Hub! I married an avid reader and though I wasn't much for reading in my childhood (because it was a chore), I quickly became interested in books as an adult. I think because our children see us reading, it makes them want to read too. They love it! In fact, my daughter is an aspiring writer herself. (she's nine) She has a great imagination and has written several stories already. I wish that in school, they would have allowed us to pick from a variety of books instead of focusing on one novel... It's just like music, really. Finding what interests you is just the first step.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Very comprehensive with loads of good ideas! I started reading to my kids when they were very young - and both love to read.

Up &U


Gina Joy Bennett 4 years ago

Thank you for writing this hub. There are some wonderful ideas in it. My son has trouble in school explaining what a story was about so the ideas in your hub should help him out.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

Very thorough and very well researched information - thanks for writing this! Reading is so incredibly important, especially in the digital age, where we are faced with instructions and a flow of information at every juncture.

Voted up, useful and interesting.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Deborah, I agree, and I was lucky because even at school we were encouraged to read from a young age. The school even organised trips to the library in town where they had a lovely room in a kind of tower with portholes. The library staff would read us a story and we were all captivated. It was great. Of course our Mum used to read to us too, so it was second nature to read ourselves :)


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Kelly, wow your daughter sounds just great. When I was her age I loved writing stories, and it wasn't much longer before I wrote a mini book about a girl who got a pony and all the gymkhanas she entered etc. I even broke the book up into chapters and typed it out on my Dads old typewriter. Ultimately I entered it in a school writing competition called the 'Beelay Competition' (after a deceased teacher), and even though I was only in the penultimate year at the school I managed to come second out of the entire school. I reckon that is where I became hooked on writing, (I was already hooked on reading).


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi Melovy, thanks so much for commenting. I reckon you definitely did the right thing reading to your children from an early age. This is when they are most open to learning, new ideas and following the example set by their parent's, (plus they have imaginations just waiting to be captured by a good story).


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Gina, I would be delighted if your son can put these ideas to good use. Makes the writing of this hub so worthwhile :)


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Marcy, I am so pleased you enjoyed this and I really appreciate the votes up. I agree that we need good reading abilities to cope with all the instructions we have thrown at us every day in this modern age :)


cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

Misty, great hub. 'Out of little acorns, mighty oaks grow" how very true. Very informative and very well written. Teach your children well.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks cleaner3, actually I don't have my own children, sadly I am unable to, but I do remember being one which is how I know these methods work :)


cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

you would be a great mother...


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks cleaner3, well never say never, miracles do happen to some women who have been told they can't have children :)


cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

very true , I beleive in miricles myself , also fairies and angels. keep trying I'm sure you will make your husband happy in this endevour.LOL


poowool5 profile image

poowool5 4 years ago from here in my house

Nice hub. And good advice. I have to say that unfortunately, despite doing all these good things with my kids when they were young and despite my husband and I being avid readers ourselves, my three boys, now teenagers, are too seduced these days by the flickering screen (TV, computer, X-Box, you name it) and barely read at all. It is the bane of my life!! They are strong students however so I'd bet that early reading had a part in that and now I just hope that the love of reading that we worked so hard to instill in them years ago, comes back to them later in life. Fingers crossed! Thanks for the good read


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

LOL cleaner3, well you never know, but right now writing consumes most of my energy, and from next month my efforts will be targeted into growing veggies (same every year). Hubby has to be squeezed in when time allows if you get my drift ;)


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks poowool5, shame they didn't grow to love reading, but hopefully as you say the early lessons will have paid off and they will adapt to being successful individuals :)


poowool5 profile image

poowool5 4 years ago from here in my house

Always hoping :) And I still, like you, strongly believe that it runs deep with young children to develop good reading skills. Maybe we will have to go the Kindle route...that's a flickering screen of sorts, right?!


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Totally, (I suggest this in the hub). The screen doesn't flicker though, and looks like a book, but the computer type features are there, and they will love those!


cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

You are a naughty girl.LOL


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What a great Hub! You give parents so many good reasons to encourage kids to read and also such good practical tips. You know, I don't remember learning to read, like I don't remember learning to breathe or eat or walk...reading was always there, it was something my parents always did, and often together, too. Learning to ride a bike, which I do remember, was a lot harder. Voted up!


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Sherri, I agree totally, I don't remember learning to read either. It started so young we just 'did' and I was a natural reader. I used to often be asked to read out loud for the school, narrate the plays etc. I too remember learning to ride a bike though, and you are right, it was a lot harder lol.


deepateresa profile image

deepateresa 4 years ago from Trivandrum, Kerala,India

My mother used to read stories for me in my childhood and that interested me to read by myself.

Thus I learned to read faster and that interest had not gone down till now. I need my child also to be in the same track. I think I should follow my mother's path for getting it done.

Anyways great hub and practical ideas...

Thanks for sharing


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi depateresa, sounds like your Mum worked on the same principle as mine then. Great minds think alike. I recommend this as one of the best ways to get children reading because I know first hand (as you do) how effective it was. Glad you liked the hub and thanks for commenting :)

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