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I Want My Child to Like Reading

I want my infant, toddler, or preschooler to grow up loving to read!

When your child is young, simply having books in their play area, and taking time to read each day, even if it’s for five minutes at a time, will encourage a love of reading. Here are some other ways to raise a reader:

  • Keep books down low. During the years when kids are playing, crawling, and scooting on the floor, keep books in bins or on low shelves so they can pull them out, open the pages, and even gnaw on the binding. It’s all about making books a normal part of their day.
  • Follow their lead. It’s okay if your 8-month-old won’t sit still for more than 2 pages at a time or if a toddler is too busy saying “no” to agree to read what used to be their favorite book. Having books in your child’s play area and offering to read are enough to keep kids interested, and aware that books are an option.
  • Consider books that sing. When infants or toddlers won’t sit still, consider bringing books that “make noise” or “sing.” Our research assistant, Samantha’s infant daughter will only sit still for books that make train noises (her favorite is Trains Go by Steve Light) or are sing-alongs (The Wheels on the Bus, Baby Beluga, and Old MacDonald).
  • Build a home library. While it is important for kids to have books that they can call their own, they don’t need every new title and you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Having a bookshelf that they can call their own and that you add to from the library is enough!
My child says he “hates” to read

At some point, many kids say they don’t like to read, or at least reading is not their first-choice activity. If this is a phase—you had an engaged reader who seems to want to spend more time with friends now—help them through it by keeping up with family reading habits (bedtime stories, etc). If it’s a constant struggle, check out our ideas for engaging all kids in reading.

  • Get excited. Find a book from your childhood that you’re genuinely excited to share with your child and start reading aloud every night. Excitement is contagious and the easiest way to get your child excited about reading is to drum up the excitement yourself!
  • Go for a series. Older students (2nd and 3rd graders) enjoy series because, once they know the characters, they can get more invested in the books (think of it as binge-watching a TV show, but for reading). Here are book lists of popular series for 1st and 2nd graders and 2nd and 3rd grade, but we’ve heard that Geronimo Stilton, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter are still hot series!
  • Add humor. As kids progress in reading, motivation becomes more and more important and it’s important for kids to have some time to read what they want. Check out different genres, particularly funny books for boys, or poetry books that are witty and appeal to third graders (think: Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky).
  • Explore nonfiction series. Nonfiction often appeals to kids who are bored of the fiction they read at school. Check out a series like What if you had? Who would win? Or You wouldn’t want to be…. present science and history in engaging ways. Think The Discovery Channel in book-form. (Here is the full list of book series.)
  • Put the timer away. If your child has to read for a certain number of minutes, just bringing the timer out may start a power struggle. Instead, ask your child to read every night, but just until he can tell you something interesting. He’s still reading and, as he gets further into a book, he may end up reading longer than the assigned time limit, just to find the most interesting fact to share.