Guest Post: How to Get Your Children Engaged and Excited About Reading

December 2, 2020

There’s no question reading benefits children of all ages. Reading has been shown to improve test scores, strengthen imagination, teach children new things, and even boost social and emotional development.

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While there are plenty of campaigns that encourage parents to “create readers” from an early age, not all kids are interested in reading right away. Some might be more attracted to electronics, or toys, or playing outside. While there isn’t anything wrong with those other activities, reading should be a part of every child’s life. Encouraging your child to read now can create benefits that last a lifetime.

Forcing your children to read isn’t the answer and may even cause them to be more resistant. But, there are things you can do as a parent to get your children engaged in and more excited about reading. Once they do, you’ll love seeing the joy they experience as they’re traveling through stories, using their imagination, and learning through discovery.

So, what can you do to encourage a love of reading in your child, and how can you get them excited to pick up something to read, so much so they’re reading the cereal box as they eat breakfast in the morning?

Why Aren’t They Interested?

If you want to come up with creative ways to get your children engaged in reading, you might consider finding out why they don’t seem to be interested in the first place. You might think their interests are just on something else. Sometimes, that is the case. If your child is older and involved in school and other activities, they might also feel like they don’t have time to read, so they don’t make it a priority. You can encourage them to make time each day by:

  • Suggesting they keep a book with them
  • Utilizing technology (reading on their phone/tablet)
  • Cutting down on activities or choosing ones that offer more flexibility

Sometimes, though, your child might not be excited about reading because of something more serious. Some children have a harder time reading than others, and it could be the result of a learning disability or even vision problems. If your child seems to be frequently squinting, has a short attention span, or complains about headaches, it’s a good idea to get their eyes examined. No one wants to read if it feels like a struggle or causes pain.

Getting to the root of the issue, whether it’s medical or behavioral, will give you a good starting point. You’ll be better equipped to get your child excited about picking up literature.

Connect Reading to What They Love

You undoubtedly know your child’s interests and hobbies better than anyone. Thankfully, there is literature on just about every subject. Whether your child is into rockets and space exploration, animals, princesses, or bulldozers, you can find a large supply of children’s literature that will play right into their interests. If you’re not sure how to find the right ones, try apps like ‘To Read,’ which can offer you recommendations based on interests.

Some of the most common recurring themes found in children’s lit include:

  • Courage
  • Identity
  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Belonging
  • Growing up

Connecting things they are already interested in to these subjects can make a big difference in how they learn things and how eager they are to keep learning more. You can find these themes in fiction, non-fiction, comic books, and even in graphic novels. The point is to read.

You can also ease your child into reading more by connecting real-life events to a book. For example, if your child is interested in cooking, get out the family cookbook and thumb your way through it. If there is a signature dish in that book, go into the kitchen and ask your budding chef-cum-reader to narrate their way through the recipe as you make it.

How to Raise a Reader

To get a child excited about reading, you have to start at a young age. Reading to your child as a baby is a great way to foster that love, even when they don’t understand what you’re saying. Reading out loud to children when they’re babies will allow them to pick up on sounds and words sooner. It will also encourage the use of different senses as you let them see pictures, touch pages, and try to follow along. Things like pop-up books are great for young children to get them more interested and engaged with what’s on the page, too. Plus, they improve motor skills.

As your child gets older, continue the reading routine, and try to make it more than just once a day. When they start to talk and can be more engaged with books, they might ask you questions or “interrupt” when you’re reading to them. Don’t let that frustrate you or think they aren’t paying attention. It means they’re interested in what you’re reading and they want to learn more. That’s what reading is all about. When they’re more comfortable, flip the script and ask them to start reading to you. We learn best by doing.

Be diverse in the reading you choose as a family. Raising a reader from a young age will open up worlds of opportunities for them. Before long, you might be trying to figure out how to save money on reading material if you have an avid reader on your hands! But, let your child choose subjects that interest them, let them ask questions, and encourage them to use their imagination every time they turn a page.

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