How to Motivate Your Kid to Read

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If you don’t know how to motivate your kids to read, you are not alone. 

Let me tell you about my little niece.

She used to shed many tears whenever she had to get close to her books. She could watch TV or play with a smartphone for hours but when it comes to reading, she became anxious.

She twisted her wrists, pinched her fingers, and played with her hair. Her eyes looked up and down, from the light to the pencil, from her mommy’s face to her mommy’s fingers. Everywhere except the pages of the book.

My sister was about to lose it. She pointed to the letters, told her how to pronounce it again, ask her daughter if she understood.

“I want a new Barbie doll mommy.” – she said.

That’s when my sister lost it. She raised her voice, yelled at her daughter, and then restarted the teaching again.

I was like, “I don’t want to do that to my kid. I want to prevent it from happening”.

The thing is, with more toys, gifts, and modern technology available, kids are often drawn to those things before they even think of books.

Who to blame? Even we adults prefer to watch our TV show rather than reading a good book.

But it doesn’t mean you have to toss all the toys and smart devices in your house to the trash, you just need to change a little bit. Below you will find great tips on how to encourage your child to read so that they will gain a world of knowledge through books.

Tips for Motivating Your Child to Read

1. Start early

My son is 20 months old and he has more than 18 months of book playing experience. (I know, right?)

The first time I read a book for him was when he was around 1.5 months old. He couldn’t recognize all the colors at that time, so I got him a cute color book and a black and white book. I lay next to him with the book above our heads, then I read it out loud. I repeat it every night. With only 2 books, they were great for him until he was around 6 months old.

2. Be a role model

I think the most effective tip to get your kids hooked on books is you have to read books yourself. 

My son doesn’t see me playing games, he doesn’t see me scrolling down my phone, he doesn’t see me walking with my head held down while holding the phone. He sees none of that. So there is not a chance he will copy it.

When I’m too tired to play hide and seek with my son, I simply sit down and grab a book. 

He would quickly come to me, grab one of his books, and make me read it for him. Sometimes he even grabs my book and flips through all the pages.

If you constantly play games on your phone or sit on the couch while telling your kids to read a book, how will they respond?

“Why do I need to read books when you are watching TV?”

You cannot say, “because I am an adult” here, can you?

Instead, turn off all the distractions in the house. Put the toys away and grab a book with your kids.

3. Don’t teach, tell them stories

Do not pick up a book and teach them the alphabet. Or make reading books become boring.

The first thing you have to worry about is not on how many letters or new words your kids are learning, but if the books can capture their attention. 

 Once the books can get their attention, everything else will flow easier.

4. Start with picture books

My husband hates books. He never touches any book himself and I couldn’t understand him at first. 

Turns out, he never had the chance to read the right books. 

What are the right books? They are books that can tell good and engaging stories. If your kids are not a fan of reading yet, start with picture books. 

Make your kids excited and curious about what the characters in the books say, and eventually, they will try to read themselves.

5. Hook them with a series

It’s like your favorite TV show. Once you know the main character and you are into him/her, you will enjoy watching him/her act in different events or scenarios. 

When your kids are into a character, they are likely to continue to keep reading the next story.

6. Read together

Kids love receiving our attention. Try to start reading together early. You can sit next to your kid or let your kid sit on your lap, pick one book, and read it out loud for him.

Not only can you introduce books to your kid, but also create memorable moments and bond with your little one.

7. Be generous with praises

Don’t be stingy on praises. Say them to your kids often. Recognition and positive feedback are very powerful because they make kids feel more confident in their own abilities.

Even if your kids do not read a lot today, but as long as they read something, praise them.

8. Don’t force them. Reading is not a chore, it is a pleasure

Never force your kids to read. It only makes kids have a negative feeling towards reading and will be hesitant to touch books again.

Instead, make reading becomes a reward or a welcoming consequence. 

“If you put away your toys before dinner, tonight we will read the Bunny Book.”

“If you clean up the floor for me, I will buy you the Elsa book you always want.”

9. Make a real-life scene based on the book

Kids like to role play. After reading a good book, make a scene based on it with your kid’s act as the main character. 

They will enjoy the game and also become eager to know more scenes.

10. Fewer toys, more books

Next time you go to the store, instead of getting a new toy for your kid, opt for a new book instead. Without many toys, your kid will have to use their own imagination and creativity to make their own games. 

When they are bored with their games, they will start to play around with the most common toys in the house, ie., books.

Final Thoughts

My son is around 20 months old and he owns more than 30 books.

Sometimes my son and I fight to see who can hold the books. 

That is a battle that I love to lose. Of course, I lost most of the time. 

Making your kids love reading books is not impossible. But it takes time and lots of patience from you. 

Start using these tips to motivate your kids to read books. They will thank you later.

This is a guest post by Mai Pham, the founder of Mommy Instinct, a blog focused on helping moms find the right gears to make parenting easier while following their instinct. Mai Pham is a proud mom, a blogger, and a self-help nerd. When she isn’t playing with her son, you can find her writing, researching all over the internet, or reading comics for teenagers. 

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2 thoughts on “How to Motivate Your Kid to Read”

  1. Thanks for your tips! Together with our daughter, we read riddles and rebuses. Interest in secrets also motivates the child to read. Besides, it forms a habit of logical thinking, helps to broaden the vocabulary.

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