Inside: Tired of the whining when you ask your child to read? Use these easy tips to help your child enjoy reading with little to no effort.
“I hate reading! Why do I have to do it?” my daughter said in a whiny voice. This was the usual response when I’d ask her to go and read something. Chances are good if you’re reading this, you’ve heard those whiny words too. Maybe even had some tears shed as well. One thing’s for sure, when a child hates to read, it’s frustrating as a parent trying to figure out how to get them to enjoy reading.
Two of my three children really weren’t natural book lovers. It took creative thinking and careful observation to figure out how to get them to come around.
I’m not going to tell you they are bookworms now, but they definitely read more than they used to and my youngest doesn’t bristle when I suggest reading a book.
My oldest is now an adult and voluntarily buys books to read. That’s a huge accomplishment if you could have seen him when he was younger.
*Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking through, The Unexpected Homeschooler may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read full disclosure policy in the menu.
Below is a picture of my crazy family. I’m a homeschool mom of 16 years. Before that, I was a school teacher for nine years. I have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (K-8) and a master’s degree in special education (K-12). I’ve taught in both the regular and special education classroom settings. So I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.
So why do we even care if our kids like to read? I mean what’s the big deal? Many adults seem to get by just fine, don’t they? Or do they?
Let’s take a look at some of the statistics reported about children who don’t read or aren’t read to.
On a weekly basis, 23% of parents report never reading to their children, and 26% of parents report only reading once or twice.
Let’s look at how many words your child is introduced to when he reads or is read to.
A typical board board book contains an average of 140 words and a typical picture book has around 228 words!
The image above shows that a child who comes from a literacy rich environment will start Kindergarten having heard 1.4 million words! That’s amazing!
You can see that reading to our kids has a huge impact . But what about when they read by themselves?
Take a guess at what you think the correct answer is to the question below to see how effective reading to our kids is.
The answer is D! Can you believe it?? That’s a lot of words!
So reading does make a difference! The trick is getting them to do it.
There are 𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 to help your children enjoy reading. Yes, you read that right!
And I’m going to share my reading tips with you. So read on!
𝗧𝗜𝗣 #𝟭–𝗨𝘀𝗲 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀!
Interactive books are probably my favorite types of books!
Children who don’t enjoy reading need to have something that draws them in.
They need to be 𝗶𝗻𝘃𝗼𝗹𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘆, whether it be touch, sound, or movement.
When you can find books that do that, they’ll be 𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗲𝗱!
𝟭. 𝗜𝗻𝘃𝗼𝗹𝘃𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱- They involve active learning vs. passive learning and are hands-on in some way.
𝟮. 𝗔𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗼𝗿𝘆- Information is presented through several modalities: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
𝟯. 𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲- When a child has an experience with a books, it makes it memorable and more interesting.
𝟰. 𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗵𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻- Making a connection between the reader and written word will improve their understanding of the story.
Books that have surprises and raised elements are exciting and hold a child’s attention.
Lift the flap books are great for younger children. It gets them physically involved and also teaches object permanence!
Books like this Academy series are fantastic! They have the children doing activities, building models, playing games, using stickers, and so much more!
Here’s a video I made for a reading event that demonstrates 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 that children love.
𝗧𝗜𝗣 #𝟮– 𝗠𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗦𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹
Just handing your child a book isn’t going to make him or her love reading.
But if you can create an atmosphere around reading time that’s enjoyable, they’re more likely to want to do it.
Here are a few ideas for making your reading time special:
𝟭. 𝗖𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲:
Many kids want to have some 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗲 with their parents. Snuggling up with a good book is a great way to do that, especially first thing in the morning when they want your attention.
Bedtime is also great. Children are willing to do anything to stay up later because they like to 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗟𝗟! Why not capitalize on that and let them stay up a little longer if they read a book in bed.
𝟮. 𝗠𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲- Sitting on a chair at the kitchen table to read won’t be very enticing to your child. In fact it’s going to do the opposite because it feels like school (especially if you’re a homeschooler) and stir up all the reasons he hates reading to begin with. You’re shooting yourself in the foot!
Instead, try sitting or laying on a couch, bed, or comfy floor cushions. I know this makes it difficult for you not to fall asleep if you’re reading aloud (been there, done that) but to your child it’s inviting and special. A fun idea is to hang a chair or pod from the ceiling in your child’s room for when he’s reading alone.
𝟯. 𝗞𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗶𝘁 𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗲𝘁- Limit distractions when your child is reading, especially if he or she is an auditory learner. Turning off the television and electronics can help your child focus and better understand what he’s reading.
𝟰. 𝗠𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝗳𝘂𝗻- Reading in a monotone voice isn’t enjoyable for anyone. If you’re doing a read aloud, use expression, act out parts, and be silly! For independent or together reading time, sit in a teepee or small tent.
𝟱. 𝗨𝘀𝗲 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴- Make sure the lighting isn’t too bright or too dim. Using special lighting like string lights is fun, just make sure it’s bright enough for your child to see the words without straining.
Also using a clip-on light that attaches to the book can be fun for your child to read alone in bed at night.
𝟲. 𝗛𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗮 𝗯𝗮𝘀𝗸𝗲𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘆- Keep a variety of books available at all times to expose your children to different types. This keeps it exciting but also allows you to discover the types of books they are drawn to.
𝟳. 𝗕𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗮𝘁- If your child falls in love with a book, be ready to read it over and over again! This is a good sign. Go with it!
For very young children repetition helps them to memorize the book and they’ll pretend to read it on their own. This pretend reading is actually an important step in the reading process.
𝗧𝗜𝗣 #𝟯– 𝗧𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗧𝘂𝗿𝗻𝘀 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴- Use Dual Readers
This is a simple trick but has such a 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁!
Does reading a whole book overwhelm your child? I know it did mine!
By taking turns reading, it 𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝗮𝗱 and makes the book more approachable. This is a fantastic trick for kids who are already reading well but don’t really enjoy it.
You can alternate pages or paragraphs. Some may even need to go sentence by sentence. And that’s okay!
𝗗𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 are great for your younger, beginning readers because there’s a page with text for the parent and another page with easier text for the child.
Give it a try and see if it makes a difference. Before you know it, your child will gain confidence and start reading more on his or her own and rely less on you.
𝗧𝗜𝗣 #𝟰– 𝗨𝘀𝗲 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 𝗮𝘁 Your Child’s Reading 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹
Did you know there are 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝘀 of reading? It’s 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 between each.
Depending on the difficulty of a book, children (or anyone for that matter) can move back and forth between these levels and it can affect how much they enjoy reading.
𝗧𝗛𝗥𝗘𝗘 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗗𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗟𝗘𝗩𝗘𝗟𝗦
𝟭. 𝗙𝗿𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹
Difficult for the child to read. Decoding words, vocabulary and concepts are too difficult for him or her. Reading at this level will frustrate the child and squash any interest in reading.
𝟮. 𝗜𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹
Challenging but manageable. The child needs the support of the parent. This is the level where new concepts and words are introduced and it’s best used when the child is being taught.
𝟯. 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹
Relatively easy, enjoyable. The child can read the book on his/her own comfortably and easily understands what is read. It’s not stressful.
I can’t stress enough the importance of picking books that are appropriate for your child’s reading level! He will enjoy reading so much more when he isn’t trying to decode every other word. Take the time to discover your child’s independent reading level.
𝗧𝗜𝗣 #𝟱– 𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 for Kids
I know this one seems obvious, but not all books are created equal.
In order for your child to even want to look at a book, it has to 𝗱𝗿𝗮𝘄 𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝗼𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝗻.
Great books meet the following criteria:
𝗧𝗜𝗣 #6— They Enjoy Reading If It Interests Them
𝗙𝗼𝗰𝘂𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗱ren’𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝘀! This is key to finding books they will enjoy!
Do they like sports, gymnastics, science, ballet, dinosaurs, cars, horses, coding, history, etc.
TIP 1: Find out what makes your children tick and then scatter some books on those topics on a table (𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺) and see if they don’t pick them up on their own!
TIP 2: Pay attention to the 𝘁𝘆𝗽𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 your children enjoy.
Do they prefer:
- Chapter books
- Graphic novels
- Digital books
My oldest daughter prefers a hardback book to a paperback. She likes the feel of it and it keeps it from getting bent (a pet peeve of hers).
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁’𝘀 𝗮 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀?
Where can you find good books your kids will love?
Usborne Books and More is a great resource! Families have been using them for over 30 years and I have personally been using them for the last 16 years while homeschooling.
Peter Usborne developed a new generation of books that prove that it is possible to create books that 𝗰𝗼ntend with the overwhelming media that children are so attracted to today.
From engaging activity books, to exciting fiction series, to internet-linked history and science encyclopedias, 𝗨𝘀𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗲𝘀 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿.
For more than 25 years, Kane Miller has published award-winning children’s books from around the world. They bring to life fantastic 𝗳𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 and for the younger readers wonderful 𝗺𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝗰𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗶𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀.
All of these are stories that will bring a tear to your eyes as they make you think, smile, laugh, or cry.
The combination of Usborne and Kane Miller books allows Usborne Books & More to offer you one of the most original and creative book lines in the U.S.
I’ve put together a 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 from Usborne Books and More that meet the criteria for the tips I’ve listed in this article. Check it out and see what books your child would like.
You can also check out what other books they have from their full site.
If you’d like some 𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗮𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀, message me and tell me about your readers. List their ages and interests and I will prepare a customized wish list JUST FOR YOU! This may give you some ideas of books that they will LOVE!
Join My VIP Group
If you’ve enjoyed learning these tips to help your child enjoy reading, I’d love to invite you to join my VIP reading group called The Book Patch. I offer FUN book ideas, giveaways, sales and more on award winning books for ages 0-18! Whether we’re reading to our kids or they’re reading on their own, it’s important to have a wide array of good quality books to choose from. Hope to see you in there!