Have a child who would sooner do chores than pick up a book? Relax and rest assured in the knowledge that you are not alone. Reading can be a chore for some kids, but there are ways you can add some enthusiasm and encouragement to your kids to blossom their interest in books. Before you know it, you’ll be turning your “read-a-phobe” into a regular little book worm.
1. Have them Pick the Topic
This is a first step to transform their ideas that reading is an unpleasant task. Show your kids that knowledge is power and that there are books about whatever it is that they love. All kids have interests in something, even if it’s television and video games. Find books related to whatever it is they would rather spend their time doing. Demonstrate the adventure of the characters, find experiments, or explore facts about the animals they like.
2. Seek a Series
From Boxcar children to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, from Babysitters Club to Magic Tree House, the opportunities spread for generations. There are countless options for exciting book series available for kids of all ages. Find one that interests them, and build on the excitement of consequently continuing through the books.
3. Tie in Books with Movies
Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Peter Pan… the list of feature films related to books for kids is extensive. Use that to your best advantage. Make a special popcorn and movie night to celebrate after your child completes a book. Build up enthusiasm prior to watching the film with a noteworthy calendar marker, and consider inviting some friends over for the occasion.
4. Use Reading Rewards
If your reluctant reader would find motivation from reward-based results, consider granting them a reward for meeting their reading goals. There are a number of fantastic programs out there to help with incentives, such as the Book-It program, which is open to homeschools as well as public schools. Check your local library—most have reading reward programs with events and incentives through the summer as well as the school year.
5. Gift Books
When your child finds a series of books they enjoy, you can use it as a win-win and reward them with books for their other accomplishments. If they have finished their chores for the week or done well with extracurricular practice, consider buying them the next book in their series rather than a typical allowance. Additionally, you can gift books along with other presents for birthdays and holidays. When they see you place value on books, they’ll grow to appreciate them more.
6. Build a Reading Fort
The atmosphere in a space can make a dramatic difference in attitude. Create a special area for your child to read in. A reading nook, fort, or a transformed closet with ample reading light and a bean bag could make a world of difference in the time they want to spend reading. The key is not to over-stimulate them but to pique their interest. Make the atmosphere feel exciting but calm, and the activity will naturally feel more entertaining.
7. Offer Accompanying Activities
A standard book report may be boring, but there are loads of ideas online for various ways to turn book-related themes into amusing activities and projects. Research free lapbooks for whatever book your child is reading and you are bound to find endless free resources at your fingertips. From activity sheets and recipes to party ideas—the internet is flooded with teaching tools to transform books into further lessons and extended fun.
8. Join a Book Club
Join or start up your own book club. When your child has peers who are excited about reading, the chances are greater that they will be, too. Ask around at your local library or start your own and involve your kids in developing a name and designing fliers/invitations for it.
9. Books on Tape
You may think that ideally, your child will love to read books, not listen to them. However, you can plant a comforting love for books and literature by exploring books read on tape. Created in all different media formats, from CDs to mp3’s, you can utilize books on tape in the car, at home, or on the go. Listening to books read is calming and it stimulates your child’s imagination and mental imagery in the same areas reading does.
10. Unplug and Read!
The most important component of getting your child to love reading is to carve out space and time to read. Dial down the distractions. Turn off the cable and internet for a few weeks or more. Read to them and read to yourself. Read outside! Humans are creatures of habit, so make a habit of reading, and reading often, and your child will make it a habit, too.