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Encourage Children to Read Using These Tips

Updated on August 29, 2013
My son has always enjoyed looking at books even when he was one. His favorite place to read was his green frog chair
My son has always enjoyed looking at books even when he was one. His favorite place to read was his green frog chair | Source

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Reading for Fun is on the Decline

As parents, we often find it challenging to get our children to set aside time to read at home once in a while, let alone once a day. Television, toys, friends, and in today's age - the Internet - all compete for their attention. By the time they get home from school and finish their homework, the last thing they want to do is read. So, it's important to find a way to encourage and get children reading. And it starts with us.

Annual Survey Shows Children Reading Statistics

Results from the 2011 Annual Survey of the UK's National Literacy Trust "Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today" revealed that 22% of children and young people read either rarely or not at all during their own time.[1] As parents, not only should we encourage reading and add a block of time to the schedule specifically for reading, but we have to set the example ourselves. The examples we, as adults, set as well as those set by older brothers and sisters are some of the most profound influences that shape our children. After all, one way children learn is by imitation.

The same study revealed that technology based reading formats such as websites, text messages, and messages on social networks such as Facebook are the most commonly read types of materials - with text messages being the highest at (63.2%).[1] Do you realize what that means? The extent of what many children and teens consider reading consists of shortened, abbreviated, or one word variations of words like LOL, SMH, Thx, and c u l8r. Terrifying, isn't it?

The study also shed some light on why some children won't read around other children - they're embarrassed to be seen reading by their peers[1]. How sad is that?

As adults, we have got to intervene and get our kids on track for regular reading outside of school and help develop habits that will carry them through life.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Benefits of Children Reading at Home

Reading regularly beginning at a young age has many positive benefits for our kids as they progress through their childhood years, become teens, young adults, and then adults. When reading, children are improving upon a set of skills. Encouragement will only help the child to expand upon those skills. I strongly believe that children who read regularly can develop these positive attributes:

  • Higher test scores
  • More advanced reading skills
  • Increased confidence in reading, in school, as well as socially
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Opportunities to challenge their minds
  • Improved opportunities in higher education and careers
  • Broadened the view of the world

Sadly, if children are not brought up to read regularly at home, it carries through and can affect them in high school, in preparation in college, even in the workforce. We can't have kids going into their adult lives thinking it's okay to write shorthanded methods that they learned from text messages.

Does Your Child Like to Read?

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Get Kids Reading More

Are your kids readers? I shared my passion for reading with my kids when they were both very young. In fact, both were reading on their own well before kindergarten. Both my 17 year old daughter and 8 year old son avid readers. My daughter will breeze through a 400-500 page book in a day or two and my son reads between 1-2 hours just about every day.

Boys are often times more resistant to sit down and read than girls, so it may take a bit more effort or just different efforts to get them to read.

Tips for Encouraging Reading at Home

If your children don't like to read, it's not too late. There are numerous ways to get your child engaged in a book, but it will take some effort on your part. Below are some suggestions on what you can do to encourage your child to read at home.

  • Start reading to your children when they're babies:

Children who are read to beginning at a very young age have had the habit of reading instilled upon them. Bedtime stories are great because great adventures can take place allowing the child to imagine what's going on in the book. As they get older, they will realize that books really can take them anywhere, just like Dr. Seuss says!

  • Explore what kinds of books interest each child:

Children's interest in subject matters varies so different from child to child. It may take a little time, but explore the types of books that your child likes most. I remember a few years ago, my son wanted to only bring home books from the school library on topics such as Monster Trucks, Hot Wheels, Reptiles, Space, and many others. They were mostly non-fiction books, but he would sit and look and read them front to back in one sitting. A few weeks later, the same book might come home, but he was interested in those. Once a week, we'd go to the county library and we'd find some fun fiction books together. While my daughter was searching for her next novel to tackle, my son and I would read a few books together before checking out the ones we choose.

  • Get your child his or her own library card when they can write their name:

Kids LOVE to feel independent! The card itself might have to reside in your wallet, but watch how proud your child is when he uses his own library card to check out books! You can bet Little Johnny will be excited to go to the library again and again!

  • Consult the AR BookFinder for reading levels and AR point values, set goals, reward for goals achieved:

Many schools across the US use the Accelerated Reading (AR) Program to help monitor the practice of reading. Each book included in the program not only has a reading level, but an associated point value based on the complexity of the book. Many of the early reader books for K-2 are 0.5 point books. Chapter books start getting into the 1.0+ range with many being 3-4 points per book at the 3-5th grade levels. I believe most schools will be able to tell you what your child's reading level is as well as the lowest and maximum levels for which he should strive to read within based on his current skills.

Many times at the beginning of the year or at the start of a new marking period, the child or the teacher may set a goal for the child to reach. Teachers often challenge the students to make their AR point goal and many teachers give the students some type of reward. I always challenged my kids a bit higher than their goal and rewarded with with something small, but special (for my son, it was a Hot Wheels car).

The AR Bookfinder is a website that you can use to search for books by title, author, ISBN, interest level, book reading level, as well as other criteria. It's free to use, and it will display the results with the associated book level (BL) and AR Points, and most also include ratings. Spanish books will also be listed unless excluded in the search. There is also an app available in iTunes called LevelFinder which seems to have most of the English books loaded.

  • Make up reading games for kids:

Whether you're traveling on a road trip or just around town, make up games such as Sign Bingo or Word Scavenger Hunt that the kids can play. Get creative! Kids will never know they're learning because they're having so much fun!

  • Set time aside for reading:

Be sure to set aside time each day in the family calendar for reading. This can be a time for you to read to your child, your child to read to you, taking turns reading to each other, or time for both of you to read your own books.

  • Discuss the book with your child:

Whether you read with your child or your child reads independently, take an interest in what she is reading. If she's not sure of a word, explain it to her or if you don't know, look it up. Ask him questions, his favorite part, his favorite characters, and ask him to retell a favorite part to you in his own words. This encourages reading comprehension and helps to build their vocabulary. It also strengthens the reading bond you two will continue to share.


[1] Clark, C. (2012) Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today: Findings from the 2011 National Literacy Trust’s annual survey. Retrieved from


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    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      8 years ago

      I see more and more adults struggling to read.I can only imagine when they have children what they will be like.Great hub I enjoyed reading it again.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      8 years ago

      I find your hub interesting.I would think children read more than ever because of texting and i-pads or Kindle or e-readers.The convience of getting any book without carrying it around.I love to read and I for one love the old fashioned books.I hope more schools encourage the basics of reading.Hopefully more parents will share their interest and love for reading like you have in this hub.Your children are very lucky to have parents who care.In todays society I think less parents spend time with their children do to the busy lives we live.

    • caab0608 profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      I love this article! As much as my son loves to read he always argues about it first. We go to the library every other week and he'll say he just wants to stay home and once I make him go I can't get him to leave. Sometimes we as the parents just have to make them try and make it interesting.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      8 years ago from California

      Johnr54 my husband started reading the Christopher Stasheff, The Rhyming Wizard series years ago. As the boys got older he got them hooked on them. Our youngest, when he was in the 7th grade, was a seldom to never reader. We read some of them to him. Then when we were around to read he would sneak read pages. Reading still isn't his most favorite thing to do, but he can do so, and the time we spent reading was a good bonding time. All three of my kids, as adults like to be read to and go off on reading jags periodically.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      8 years ago from Texas

      One method we use at our school (and I'm sure many do) is called DEAR - Drop Everything And Read. I have a teenage son who is in the "rarely reads" category and cannot get him to realize how important reading is. We are going to institute a DEAR night at home this semester conducted in the living room all of us together. Hopefully this will help! Nice hub!

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      8 years ago from Western Australia

      Very interesting:) Reading is the must, all my children loved libraries and read all the time when young...we have regular reading times every day with the school children I teach...

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      8 years ago from California

      My oldest son loved to be read to. He is a reader. My two younger sons loved being read too and are capable readers, but they don't enjoy reading so much. My husband and I are both readers. I think the difference between the children was how much they were made to read at school. They are 5 grades apart. The education the oldest kid got very different than the youngest 10 grades behing. Can't believe how schools can kill the pleasure of learning.

    • KDeus profile imageAUTHOR

      Keely Deuschle 

      8 years ago from Florida

      ExpectGreatThings, I think you're definitely on the right track to keep them interested in reading by reading to them regularly! Some of the younger books listed were my personal favorites growing up, especially 'Where the Sidewalk Ends'. Keep the love of reading and your little ones will be sure to follow!

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image


      8 years ago from Illinois

      You got my vote! Thank you for taking the time to write this. I have a 4 and 2 year old who currently love to be read to. I am hoping hoping hoping they don't end up as one of your texting statistics. I loved reading through your amazon list of books too. It even made me want to go pull out some of those books I have from my childhood.

    • KDeus profile imageAUTHOR

      Keely Deuschle 

      8 years ago from Florida

      ROBERTHEWETTSR, thank you! It is quite sad that the technological advancements, especially with regard to entertainment gadgets, we have has so greatly (and negatively) affected one, if not all, of the "three Rs." I think avid story tellers like your dad are becoming less and less with today's hectic world. I do hope I'm wrong, though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • ROBERTHEWETTSR profile image

      rOBERT hEWETT SR. 

      8 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Great hub and sorely needed in this day and age. I grew up before so many entertainment gadgets were available to children. Plus my father was an avid story teller of tales he made up. My first teacher had me reading novels in the 3rd grade. Thanks for sharing these tips and for the follow.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      I am with you on that, Keely: parents should know the benefits of teaching a child to read early in life. It will help them to successfully accomplish learnings in school. Thanks for the okay in linking. Enjoy you day -- looks like you are in my neck of the "Florida" woods.

    • KDeus profile imageAUTHOR

      Keely Deuschle 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Absolutely, please feel free to link to it and I will do the same to yours, if okay, which is another great topic. It's sad to me when parents rely on the schools to teach their children to read and don't do anything to encourage it at home - it breaks my heart to see them struggle and they probably wouldn't struggle as much if there was more encouragement at home.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      I promote reading to everyone I teach and to all parents. If a child enjoys reading they will be successful throughout their life. Your stats and facts are right on and will show parents what is needed to help their child embrace the love of reading. Would like to link your hub to mine on teaching your child to read (Is My Child Too Young To Read?), if you agree.

    • KDeus profile imageAUTHOR

      Keely Deuschle 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you so very much for taking the time to read and comment!

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 

      8 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Excellent Hub with great ideas! Such an important topic.

    • KDeus profile imageAUTHOR

      Keely Deuschle 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Audrey, yes, they are astounding! I couldn't believe it when I first saw it. I've noticed the attention span problem, too, in adults and it is so scarey knowing the next generation will be even more affected. And, sadly, as a result I think it will lead to more kids being medicated unnecessarily because of lack of focus. I think it can end up being a vicious cycle.

      I feel blessed in that I have a 17 year old daughter who texts maybe 4 or 5 times a MONTH. She loves to read and spends a lot of time reading and re-reading books and just doesn't feel the need to text.

    • Audrey Baker profile image

      Audrey Baker 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      The statistics you shared on text messaging are astounding. I've read and also observed that people have shorter attention spans now than previously as a result of being constantly connected to phones and computers. If I'm observing this behavior from adults, I can't imagine what the attention span will be like of those that were brought up from a very young age with this technology.

    • KDeus profile imageAUTHOR

      Keely Deuschle 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Thank you! It's interesting to see just how different interests are even among kids the same gender and age. The books my son's friends read don't hold much interest for my son. As we explored the books he really likes (like 39 Clues), I found some great books of his to read, too!

    • thebookmom profile image


      8 years ago from Nebraska

      Great Hub on an important topic! I love your ideas about finding books specific to each child's interests and about how important it is to talk about books with kids. Well done.


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