Are you struggling to get your kids excited about reading? Here are 10 best tips to keep kids reading. It’s the reason my own boys still love reading.
I’m often asked the secret to getting my boys to read. The truth is, there isn’t one. We’re just a normal family like all the others–with busy lives and plenty of places to go and things to do.
But at our house, reading is a priority. It’s the easiest way I’ve found to help my boys academically, regardless of age, interests, or the topics they’re learning.
For us, reading isn’t something I assign or make them do as some sort of punishment. Rather, it’s woven into our day as routine to us as eating and deciding what to wear.
The Love of a Good Book
You can’t blame the book love solely on my teaching profession or my endless craving for the smell of its old musty pages. I’m just built for it. For some reason, God created me as a word girl. And I love how words can move us, and surprise us, and inspire us toward trying great and impossible things.
Reading in itself, however, isn’t just for the teacher or writer.
Reading is the best kept secret to the greatest success. It’s the discipline that exercises our greatest asset–the brain–and just one sentence, phrase, or even a word has been known to change countless lives to set them on an entirely different path.
I believe we’re all born with a love for reading.
Unfortunately, we never discover the passion unless we have the opportunity to make that connection. For those who’ve had those moments, our awareness is awakened to a whole new level the very moment we meet those words within the pages of what becomes our most beloved book.
That’s the secret–if there is one. To help your child make that connection. To find that story, or sentence, or phrase that changes everything. Discovering the greatest stories is an adventure of a lifetime. And, as parents, we have the awesome opportunity to guide our kids toward it.
So how do we do it? It’s really not that difficult. Here are 10 tips to creating those opportunities to help your child discover the love of reading on his own.
10 BEST Tips to Keep Kids Reading
1. Visit the Library
Getting a library card was sort of a rite of passage for my boys. We made a huge deal out of the process and used the opportunity as a way to celebrate their own love for books as soon as they were able to read. I am fortunate to live within a quick drive to two large branches of our regional library system and even have a small location just down the street from our home, so frequenting the library is just too easy for us.
By scheduling regular library visits, my boys have learned not only how to use the library effectively, but also experienced for themselves the tons or free resources available. We’ve met authors, listened to read alouds, watched magic shows, and once pet a baby alligator–all at the library–for free!
Visiting the library on a regular basis has been key in creating our ‘love for books’ environment. It’s set the tone for everything else we do as a family. Now, our second hand bookstore is the first place both of my boys ask to go.
2. Provide a Reading Routine
I like to read before bedtime. It’s been routine for as long as I can remember to help me wind down in the evenings and settle my thoughts for sleep. I’ve modeled this behavior for so long that my boys picked up the same habit. I never tell them to go read something. They just do it. It’s just one of those rituals they’s naturally adopted from watching me do the same thing for so long.
3. Extend a Book with Fun Activities
I haven’t done this one in a long time because my boys are older, but when they were just learning to read we did this one often. There are all sorts of fun extensions to read alouds. Make puppets and then use them to retell the story, bake cookies or other featured treats from the story, or paint a picture using the same techniques the illustrator used on the pages of your favorite picture book.
There are all sorts of fun ways to celebrate reading. Find ways to celebrate your child’s favorite book through other forms of movement and art. It’s a super fun way to keep kids reading that creates wonderful memories, too.
4. Create a Reading Environment
Yes. My dream home would house a two-story library to replicate the library at the Biltmore Estate. Unfortunately, my home is a wee bit smaller, so my book collection isn’t quite as grand as all that. However, there are plenty of bookshelves throughout it, and both the boys have bookshelves filled with favorites of their own.
It’s not just picture books and novels that fill our shelves, either. We read magazines and the boys love comic books. We also have a good collection of manuals to teach us how to do things. It’s not about a certain type of reading material, but more about reading what you enjoy most.
5. Talk About Great Books
To me, talking about what we’re reading has been the best way to get my kids excited about it. I read all sorts of books in just about every genre. And, although there are tons of books I’ve read and then recommended for them to read based on their age and interests, I also talk about other books I’m reading, too.
I love Christian romance novels. I know they wouldn’t be at all interested in reading them. However, if the book was so good I couldn’t put it down and lost sleep over it, I tell them. And, when a book was a disappoint, I share that with them, too.
Even though they’ll never read those books, they still respond by sharing their own stories. Our book talks have become part of our relationship. It’s a place we can find common ground and both the boys can’t wait to share with me when they’ve read something pretty awesome, too.
6. Connect with a Favorite Author
The boys and I love Roald Dahl everything. We also love Chris Van Allsburg and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicker). My twelve year old has recently fallen in love with books by C.S. Lewis, and my seventeen year old loves classic writers, like Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe.
We talk about our favorites.
What we like.
What we don’t like.
What we wish they would have written or what we hope they will one day write.
7. Hook Them on a Great Series
If you love books as much as I do, you already know the thrill of a new book in your favorite series. Getting kids hooked on a series is the ultimate secret to getting them hooked on reading for life.
8. Read Aloud
9. Read Together
10. Read Yourself
That’s it- seriously. To keep your kids reading, enjoy reading yourself and with your family. Read. And read some more. Talk about books and build enthusiasm. Soon, your kids will want to read them, too.
Crystal Green says
These are some really good tips. I love the fact that you mentioned getting them hooked on a good series. By far that has been the best way to keep my kids interested in reading.
I find that just reading to your kids really promotes the love of books! Nice to meet you!
Mitzi Smith says
you’re right, Kristen– reading together is the BEST way to promote the love of books, and builds great memories, too!
Yes! These are all things my mom did for me when I was little and I wanted to be a librarian! I even made check out cards for all of the books in my room. 🙂 I hope to instill this within my kids as they grow. Plus libraries always have fun free activities going on!
Mitzi Smith says
so true, Bree– the library is a great resource for FREE Family fun!
Libby's Library says
My husband and I are both avid readers. Some of our children developed a love a reading while others did not. We set a good example, always had books in our home and every one had library cards. They are all “good readers” and were excellent students, so I don’t know why they didn’t all develop a love for books.