Why Your Fourth Grader’s Love of Reading Needs Extra Nurturing

Help your child stay committed to reading with these expert-backed tips.

By Scholastic Parents Staff
Jun 21, 2022



Why Your Fourth Grader’s Love of Reading Needs Extra Nurturing

Jun 21, 2022

During the upper elementary years, your child will learn more complex material and be expected to make connections between different types of texts, like fiction and nonfiction.

All of the literacy skills your child has learned up to this point, such as comprehension and critical thinking, will come into play. That’s why it’s important for your child to maintain their commitment to — and enthusiasm — for reading.  

Around the age of 9, kids often experience the “decline by nine,” in which your happy reader suddenly becomes a less-than-eager reader. According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 57 percent of 8-year-olds claim to read up to seven nights a week, but only 35 percent of 9-year-olds say the same. Similarly, 40 percent of 8-year-olds say they love reading, while only 28 percent of 9-year-olds say they do. 

The more your child can read independently and for long stretches of time, the better. Reading stamina allows your child to ask better questions about the material and discover the true meaning of what they’re reading. They’re also more apt to take ownership of their learning — a skill that applies not just to reading and subjects at school, but to other areas of life as well.

“That ‘stick-to-it-ness’ that we want students to demonstrate is critical for tasks beyond reading and school,” says Karen Burke, SVP of Data Analysis and Academic Planning at Scholastic Education Solutions. (Check out these tips for building reading stamina.)

For example, reading can increase self-confidence, strengthen imagination, provide thoughtful insight into different cultures, and give children an important sense of self and connection to others — all important steps toward a healthy social-emotional life.

Here are ways to nourish your child’s love of reading so they can continue to thrive at age 9 and beyond.

1. Let Them Read What They Want

Reading is reading, it doesn’t matter what the topic is or how many pictures are in the book. As long as the content is age-appropriate, let your kids read what they want, whether that includes graphic novels or fantasy novels. Kids across all demographics agree that their favorite books are the ones they’ve chosen for themselves, per the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report.

Children also want to read books that entertain them, make them laugh (like the Captain Underpants series), or allow them to experience new places with diverse cultures and characters. (Read more about how to find that just-right book for your child).

2. Tap Into Popular Book Trends

Whether you’ve got an advanced or reluctant reader at home, it’s important to provide a constant stream of books, so they can find something they like. If you’re stumped for what they’ll want to read, check out what they’re watching: Many popular kids’ book series have screen adaptations. 

Movies and TV shows are a great way to tap into books that your child may enjoy. Aaron Blabey’s hilarious books in the best-selling The Bad Guys series have recently been made into a critically acclaimed film (which has its own movie novelization).

Find out what your child’s friends are reading by asking fellow parents or your child’s teachers for recommendations.

3. Fill Your Home With Books

Surround your children with books representing a diverse range of genres and authors. (Comic books and magazines that align with your child’s interests count, too!) When your child already has background knowledge on a topic, the reading will generally be easier and more enjoyable, freeing them to absorb new themes and vocabulary.

4. Consider Your Child’s Routine

As children become busier with homework and hobbies, or more interested in “screen time,” reading is often pushed aside. Making time for “fun” reading is invaluable in sustaining a reading habit. Consistency is the key to frequent reading, so choose the times that work best within your family’s weekly routine and stick to them.

Another good habit is making sure your child — and you — bring something to read wherever you go. They’ll begin to associate down time with picking up a book.

5. Join a Book Club or Reading Challenge

A book club is a great way to build structure and social connectedness into your child’s schedule. 

In a previous interview with Scholastic Parents, Barby Garibaldi, a consultant with Scholastic Book Clubs and mother of two children ages 11 and 13, said the book club her daughter created with friends in 2020 motivated everyone to read — and encouraged discussion about more than just books.

“They discussed topics they may not have otherwise been exposed to in their everyday lives,” she says. 

When it comes to creating the club’s reading list, encourage your child to choose books from different genres, such as nonfiction, poetry, and science fiction. This exposes them to a variety of words and topics that’ll interest them.

Reading challenges are an option for children who would like to set reading goals or could use the motivation, but prefer to read independently at their own pace. 

From May 9 to August 19, kids can visit the Scholastic Home Base digital destination to participate in a free, fun, and safe summer reading program. As part of the program, kids can read e-books, attend author events, and keep Reading Streaks™ to help unlock a donation of 100,000 books from Scholastic — distributed to kids with limited or no access to books by Save the Children. 

6. Keep Reading With Your Child

Your child is never too old to be read to. Continue the read-aloud tradition you started at birth by taking turns reading — or handing off to your child completely if they prefer it. Reading together at this age offers an interesting, enjoyable, and relaxing way to connect, with a tone that’s more conversational than instructional. 

“You want the child to open up to you about what they are thinking and feeling,” says Wandiza Williams, a fifth grade teacher in New York. “Allow them to ask the questions. You want them to take the lead in driving the conversation.” 

Encourage a love of reading with help from our guide, which includes book recommendations by interest, tips for getting your child to read for fun, and much more.

Shop books your fourth grader will love below! You can find more books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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