Getting our kids to read consistently can be a challenge. We’ve written quite a bit about reading over the years, so I’ve curated for you some of our best tips for little kids and big kids, as well as some overall trickier tactics we endorse.
For little kids
Little kids often love to read. They love the one-on-one time with their parent or caregiver, they love to flip the pages and to read the same books over and over so they know what is coming up next. And yet, you may still find yourself in a rut, reading the same books at the same time every day.
Here are a few tactics you can take to freshen up the reading experience for both of you (if you’re reading together) or for them (if they’re going it solo):
- Display their books face-out
- Read them books you enjoy
- Read novels to your little kid
- Have your kid read to the dog
- Keep books for them in every room of the home
- Set up a calming nook for them
- Read to them while they’re in the bathtub
- Read to them throughout the day, not just at bedtime
- Try Google’s new Read Along app
- Try these librarian-recommended books for fresh material
For older kids
Older kids can be a tougher sell when it comes to regular reading time. Around age nine, many kids stop reading for fun. Their schedules become packed (or, at least, this was true pre-pandemic). Adults have stopped reading to them. They begin to see it as something that is less for personal enjoyment and more as something that is expected of them. But there are still some things you can do with your older kids to keep them reading, even if they’re a bit unconventional:
- Don’t stop reading to your kids once they learn how to read
- Start a conversation journal with them
- Help them find a pen pal
- Let them stay up past their bedtime to read
- Get them started on Stephen King
At any age, trick ‘em a little
I’m not saying you should all-out deceive your children into reading, but I am saying that reading doesn’t only “count” when the words are part of a written book or magazine.
My son went through a massive Pokémon phase during which he would pore over the cards, reading what were honestly pretty advanced words and names. When his teacher assigned his class extra nighttime and weekend reading, we decided that studying his Pokémon cards would count for at least a portion that time, particularly since he read the facts out loud to us.
You can also:
- Play karaoke videos for your kid who loves music but hates reading
- Help your learning reader by turning on TV captions
- Stop reading during cliffhanger parts of chapter books to keep them wanting more
- Bribe them with free Pizza Hut pizza
Figure out what they’re into right now and feed that passion with words. Get books on their favourite sport or topic. Get zombie books or magic books or joke books. Get them into comic books — comic books are books, you know. Get them Mad Libs!
Reading shouldn’t feel like a chore, so there’s no reason to make it one; it’s good to be a little flexible here.