8 Ways to Help Your Child Fall in Love With Reading

Do you ever wish that your child loved reading as much as you do?  As video games, cell phones, and other forms of media dominate kids' minds today, it often seems that books have fallen to the wayside.  Kids would much rather shoot the zombies on the latest Call of Duty than read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  They're up to date on what Kanye West just tweeted, but they could care less about the finer points of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Perhaps you're discouraged and feel like they'll never truly appreciate reading. There is still hope, however!  As parents and teachers alike grapple with this issue, there are certainly steps we can take to fix this.  Here are some good places to start:

1. Lead by example.

If you want your child to love reading, it's essential to model this behavior for them.  Kids very seldom respond well to the "Do as I say, not as I do" strategy.  When parents show that they enjoy reading, their children are much more likely to pick up a book of their own.  Talk to them about the book you're currently reading, and recommend to them some of your favorites. 

2. Find out their interests.

Take some time to figure out what your child enjoys. Perhaps your teenager is really interested in sports, or your 8-year-old is obsessed with superheroes.  Whatever their interests, take some time to research good books connected to their areas of interest.  Kids, just like adults, are much more likely to read something they are interested in than things they find boring. 

3. Find out what they're reading in school.

Chances are that your child is reading a novel in their English class, whether they be in high school or elementary school.  Ask them what book they are reading, and then make sure to ask them some questions about it a few times each week.  It would also help if you read the book yourself.  This way, you can engage them more effectively in conversation about their book. Their teacher will thank you.  

4. Set limits on tv, video game, and cell phone time.

In this age of mass media and rapidly-advancing technology, it can be difficult to channel a child's interest toward books.  Don't be afraid to tell your child to put down the remote or cell phone and pick up a book.  This doesn't make you a bad parent; in fact, you may even be surprised to find that they thank you one day for instilling in them the importance of reading. Along with limiting time on these activities, be sure to set specific reading times for them each day.  If necessary, bribe them with cookies or other snacks.  They need to be able to look forward to this time each day rather than view it as a punishment. 

5. Read to them.

Start as early as possible with this.  Kids who are read to at an early age are much more likely to pick up a book on their own when they're old enough.  As they start learning to read, let them read some lines to you as well.  Even if your child is a teenager, give it a try.  You might just find that your "practically-an-adult-so-leave-me-alone" teenager really enjoys reading a book together.

6. Don't overwhelm them.

It can be frustrating when your child doesn't love reading as much as you do.  You might be tempted to scold them constantly for not reading.  In these moments, sometimes the best thing to do is take a deep breath and give them some space.  Trying to force things may cause them to hate reading instead.  Have high expectations for them, but don't hit them with a literature firehose every day.  Some seem to naturally love reading, but others (like myself) need to formulate a love for reading over time.  This may take some time, so be prepared to practice a lot of patience.

7. Watch movies together based on books they have read.

This allows them to see the stories in their books come to life. Take this opportunity to casually discuss how the movie was different from the book. You will know that they are developing a love for books if you hear them say, "The book was better." 

8. Take field trips!

This won't apply to every book, but try to look for opportunities to take field trips related to books they have read whenever possible.  For example, if your child just read a historical fiction novel based in the Civil War, you can take a trip to a Civil War battlefield.  This will give you an opportunity to have some fun with your kids while they make real-world connections with what they've read.  

These 8 strategies will not only help your child fall in love with reading, but they will also allow help you develop a stronger bond with your kids.  Don't be discouraged if your child doesn't fall in love with books immediately.  Again, this may take a lot of time and patience, but it will be completely worth it in the end.  This will be a rewarding experience for you and your child as you grow together in your love of books. You can do this. Best of luck and happy reading!

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