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Motivating Children to Read: How to Get Your Child to Read More

Updated on December 28, 2012

If getting your kids to read is a headache, you're not alone.

Motivating children to read can be a hassle these days. At a time in their lives when physical activity, TV, the Internet and video games take top priority, getting kids to read can seem near impossible.

That is, if you’re not going about it in a creative way that appeals to their interests.

The fact is, children are naturally inclined towards things that resonate with them. Characters they can walk in the shoes of. Stories they can fully comprehend. Situations they can relate to. Adventures that are exciting, mysterious, and fun!

As a parent, you’re in the perfect position to focus their natural curiosity about the world towards the wonders of reading. Motivating children to read is a momentous task—and here are some of the ways you can achieve it.

Getting kids to read can seem harder than pulling their teeth--but it's all about parental involvement, monitoring of progress, and providing material they like.
Getting kids to read can seem harder than pulling their teeth--but it's all about parental involvement, monitoring of progress, and providing material they like. | Source

Motivating children to read: Get down in the kid-friendly, literary trenches

First, it’s of utmost importance that you get involved in the reading process with your child. This means sitting down at a designated, comfortable time for the both of you—yes, even if you’re a little tired after work and the kids are glued to the TV or the computer—and taking out a fresh, imaginative story to share with them.

In particular, take turns reading with your child during your family “reading night.” As you’re doing this, stop every now and then to talk with him or her about what you’ve just read. That makes the bonding experience in getting your kids to read all the more special and meaningful. You also get the side benefit of assessing your child’s comprehension of the material and picking out which aspects of it he or she finds interesting.

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Motivating children to read: Give 'em what they want

Next, an essential part of motivating children to read is knowing what they’ll gravitate towards. Having an understanding of what your kids like in a story allows you to do something incredible for them—give them what they want!

It’s no surprise that kids will be drawn to whatever has special meaning and relevance to them. You can make educated guesses about this through taking note of what types of (age-appropriate!) movies they like, what their hobbies and interests are, and what fictional characters seem to fit their personalities.

If your son is extroverted and somewhat rebellious, he would find camaraderie in Huckleberry Finn. If your daughter is imaginative and creative, she’ll be drawn to Ramona Quimby of Beverly Clearly’s books. If you’re wondering how to get kids to read more, just give them what they want, and they’ll be more engaged, more interested, and more invested.

Want to know how to reduce the incidence of pouting and temper tantrums when the dreadful subject of reading is brought up?  Try giving 'em what they want.
Want to know how to reduce the incidence of pouting and temper tantrums when the dreadful subject of reading is brought up? Try giving 'em what they want. | Source

Motivating children to read: Give them what it takes

Finally, make sure your child’s reading ability is up to speed. As you would expect, motivating children to read is hard when they’re struggling in that particular area. If you already know that your child is having more difficulty in reading than his or her peers, it’s up to you to be a teacher, a mentor, and a guide. Fortunately, it can be done.

You might want to discuss your child’s reading comprehension with his or her teachers at school. Teachers, ideally, are great resources when it comes to assessing your child’s reading performance and needs. Tell them you want to instill a reading habit in your kids, and they should be able to provide helpful insight.

In addition, make your own observations. Does your child seem particularly whiny or reluctant to go near a book, even if it’s kid-friendly? In basic, everyday reading tasks, does your son or daughter lag behind in speed or display signs of stress when asked to read something?

Again, reading with your child is very important. Not only are you making reading an acceptable, “normal” activity by regularly doing so, you’re getting an invaluable chance to see if there are any obstacles in your child’s way. Once you are aware of them—if they exist—you can begin to address them, whether through helpful after-school programs, tutoring, or special home videos designed to help improve kids’ reading comprehension.

Reading is an adventure no child should be deprived of. Take the time now to read with your kids, give them material that stimulates their minds as individuals, and carefully track their progress.

In motivating children to read, you’re doing an invaluable service. Be a literary superhero to your kids, show them new, uncharted worlds through books, and they’ll learn that in whatever they set out to do, the sky is the limit. Or better yet…that there are no limits.


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    • ken blair profile image

      ken blair 

      6 years ago

      I think the reward system still works for children. They needed a reward in return for having them read books! They are actually in the age period where they easily get bored over doing things. They jump from one activity to another, so hard to keep them doing one thing. But thanks for the tips here! It should work well with my kids too.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Best advice a parent can get. You need to start reading to your kids when they're small toddlers and you can instill the love of reading. When one of my sons was in 5th grade we couldn't get him to read the books he was assigned. A particularly smart and understanding teacher told me to get any book I thought he might read and she would accept it. Knowing my sons love of comic books and horror movies I picked a science fiction book which he read from cover to cover. He still reads today (almost 40 years later)!

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • ytsenoh profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Excellent. Thumbs up.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image


      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      Great hub! My kids and I read all the time. Every night they are reading their books before bed. Even my 4 year old. Voted up and shared :)

    • Tankadin profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent hub! Thanks for addressing such an important topic. Voted up!


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