Family & Education

7 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Read More

BY Barbara Danza TIMEFebruary 7, 2022 PRINT

A skilled reader is someone who has the capacity to teach themselves virtually anything in life and who can enjoy a life abundantly rich in ideas and stories and wonder.

Parents today seem to get anxious about the topic of reading. Literacy levels are going in the wrong direction, and schools are emphasizing “reading levels” to an almost startling degree.

Regardless of the culture at school around reading, however, parents can easily instill a love of reading in their children if they take a joyful, calm, and engaging approach.

Enjoy Reading

The very first way to encourage your children to enjoy reading is to enjoy reading yourself. If you’re not someone who often picks up a book for fun or if you haven’t read in quite a while, aim to find something that you’ll enjoy reading. Perhaps you have a favorite hobby you can find a book about, or perhaps you like a good mystery—seek out books from your local bookstore or library that suit your genuine interests.

The very example of this being a part of your life will affect your childrens’ perceptions of reading. School often, sadly, makes reading feel like a chore. Take up reading as a joy.

Ignore Levels

The current trend in schools to focus so heavily on each child’s reading level is truly a shame. It’s become a part of the toxic culture that discourages love of reading and learning.

At home, completely ignore levels. If your high schooler wants to kick back and laugh at Paddington Bear, are you going to stop him because it’s below his reading level? If your preschooler wants to read Tolkien, are you going to stop him because it’s above his reading level?

Now, in the case of the latter, obviously, you don’t want your child to experience great frustration a couple of sentences in. This is when you read the book aloud, listen to an audio recording, or procure some age-appropriate retellings to get started. Don’t toss the book aside, promising to get back to it in middle school. The child is interested now, and the story is too good to put on the back burner.

Read Aloud

Nothing encourages a love of reading more than the joyful practice of reading aloud to your children. Put on the silly voices, laugh and cry along, and marvel together at the journey every book takes you on. It’s a warm, shared experience like no other and it couldn’t be simpler. If you do nothing else, read aloud to your children.

Follow Their Interests

If you have a very reluctant reader, find books about his or her most favorite things. You might discover that a child who can’t seem to get into a fiction book loves diving deep into an encyclopedia of animals. You may find that another child prefers gorgeous graphics or interactive books. The more books become a part of your regular life, the more interest you’ll see sprouting naturally from even the most reluctant readers in the bunch.

Go on Bookstore and Library Adventures

There are still some amazing local bookstores and used bookstores just waiting for book-loving families like yours to come in and enjoy. Regularly head out to peruse bookshelves wherever you can find them. Revel in the treasure hunt that used bookstores offer. Max out the library card every time. Make a family adventure of going out and seeking books.

Reduce Attention to Screens

If your children, like so many, are spending hours each day looking at screens, no wonder you’re anxious about their lack of reading. Reduce this as much as possible. Set firm boundaries and rules around the digital devices in your home.

If they complain of boredom, tell them you think that’s great because the best creativity and discovery tend to come out of boredom. Then sit down with a blanket and a cup of tea, and crack open a book for yourself.

Know What They’re Reading

The state of modern-day publishing—for all ages—is going in a direction that many families are concerned about. Ensure you know what your children are reading and the values being portrayed.

The good news is that you don’t at all have to rely on modern books alone—or even a little. Centuries of great literature are waiting to be explored. Find the very best for your children and dive in.

Barbara Danza
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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