I’m not sure I’ve ever shared here before how passionate I am about developing a love of reading in kids. All three of my kids (girl 22, boy 19 and boy 13) love to read and have ever since they were little. Reading is so very important for many reasons including expanding vocabulary, building self-confidence, stimulating the brain, exploring new places, relieving stress and boosting creativity. There are literally hundreds of good reasons reading is so essential. But it can be difficult to develop this love and often easier to just give up on it. Please don’t throw in the towel. Today I’d like to share the two most important ways I was able to raise kids that absolutely love reading. Plus you’ll find my cute reading punch cards to download at the end.
These tips really center around kids that are already reading on their own. If you have really small kiddos please surround them with a variety of board books to look at and read out loud to them every day if you can.
Find What They Like
I cannot stress this one more highly. It takes time and effort to find out which books your kids get most excited about. And just to make it complicated each of your kids will all probably like something different. For instance, when my oldest was young she loved any book that had to do with animals, mostly horses. I spent many hours at thrift stores and on eBay to get my hands on every animal book I could find. In fact over time I was able to find the entire Pony Pal series (there are many!) that we still own to this day. She loved these books so much. Every time we came across a new one she would drop whatever she was doing to read it.
There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.
When my middle son got to that age I excitedly waited for him to start reading all the animal books in our collection. And then he didn’t. We literally had hundreds of books with cute little animal faces on the cover and he was not interested in any of them. At first I wrongly assumed he just must not like reading like his sister. Turns out he just doesn’t like reading about animals. Once I started bringing in different genres for him, I could really start to see his love of reading develop. And this boy of mine was all about the boy humor. Captain Underpants to the rescue! Next we discovered Magic Tree House and then action type books. I literally spent hours looking for books that would spark each of their individual interests. It was a time investment well made.
Then along came my third child and second son. I was thrilled that all the books my middle son loved would get loved on again. Nope wrong again. While there was certainly some cross over, my youngest son preferred the Geronimo Stilton series (I’m pretty sure we also own this entire series as well) and any type of true life story like the I Survived series. Once my kids got hooked on a series I was a mom on a mission. Thrift stores were my best friend and I went weekly to look. We also went to our local library multiple times a week. I made it a super fun outing for them that they really looked forward to. It was an easy way to encourage them to try different books at no cost.
They didn’t love all the books they chose but once they found one they loved, I couldn’t get them to do anything else. In fact, it got to the point that they’d be so into a book, they’d bring it to the dinner table with them to read. We finally had to make a rule that there would be no reading at the table (so we could actually talk to another) expect on Sundays. Sundays they could read at the table while they ate and they all thought this was such a special treat.
I should also point out that not all kids love to pick out books for themselves either. My youngest was and is (even at 13) still like this. If I left it up to him to pick a book at the library he just wouldn’t. He gets frustrated and overwhelmed by the choices I think and gives up after flipping through just a few.
So here’s what we do now. Every week when we go to the library, he sits in one of the chairs and waits for me to pass him books that I think he’ll like. I go through the shelves row by row. I have a pretty good idea of the type of books he likes. Basically if the description of the book says a young orphan is running for his life, chances are good it will be a winner with him, haha. It’s crazy how many books actually match this criteria too. And if it means it’ll keep him reading I most definitely don’t mind spending my time this way.
Another library tip we use frequently is to take advantage of the inter-library loan feature. We are constantly ordering up books this way. I use the book lists emailed by Chapters (our Canadian bookstore) to keep on top of what’s new. I then request them through our library website instead of buying them. It might not be a book available at our local library but they’ll pull it for us from another library near us.
Also a quick Pinterest search will reveal literally hundreds of book reading lists for kids by age to help you with recommendations.
If you have a child that you think just hates to read, might I challenge you in that maybe it’s because he (she) just hasn’t found the types of books yet that interest him (her). Don’t give up. I promise you, there are books out there for everyone and all interests!
Make Time For Reading
Finding your child their favorite books won’t do them any good if they don’t have the time to read them. I found that my kids were more likely to pick up a book to read if they were bored. Of course once they get into a book or series that is no longer the case, but initially for sure they need a little help finding the time.
One of the best ways to do that is turning off electronics. I use the Circle device (affiliate link) in my home to monitor electronic use and limit time to two hours a day for my youngest. We also dedicate the hour before bed as reading time. Of course if it’s a really good book, I’ll often find him reading under the covers well into the night. I use to do that myself as a kid all the time.
You have to be intentional about creating consistent book reading time for your kids. Reading to me is just as important as any other activity they could be in. We have always purposely set time aside for it. And it pays off when eventually they want to be reading every chance they get. It got to the point where we’d sometimes have to tell them to put the book down to get other things done (like chores!).
Also it helps if kids see you reading on a regular basis as well, leading by example. Nothing wrong with a little family reading and relaxation time 🙂
Free Reading Punch Cards
One other thing I wanted to offer you is a fun little reading incentive for your kids this summer. I had these super cute free printable reading punch cards created to help encourage your kiddos to read. It can definitely be frustrating getting kids to read who have given up on it or just don’t want to. That’s where incentives come in. There are 16 available dots to punch. Each dot can represent a book, a chapter, an hour or however you want to use them. On these reading punch cards you’ll find a space to designate a prize for each completed punch card. Just a fun little way to motivate your kids to read. I hope you like them!
Let’s get our kids not only reading this summer but loving every minute of it as well! Stick with it mommas, you are doing great!
- You will find affiliate links included in this post. I do make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) should you purchase product using these links. As always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own – or the author, in the case of posts by my guest contributors. Thank you!*