How to Get Kids Reading

Try these expert tips to raise a child who enjoys reading.
By Mary Kate Frank



How to Get Kids Reading

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Reading makes kids smart. Engaging with books helps them soar in school; it strengthens vocabulary and spelling, as well as math, science, and reasoning skills. It boosts empathy, motivation, and curiosity, as well. You get the point. Reading is critical.

So how do you get your kid hooked on books? Read to her — at least once a day. After that, the key is to get interactive, says Jason Boog, author of Born Reading: “That means asking lots of questions, pointing out details in books, and encouraging kids to retell stories you’ve read.”

It’s never too early to start. For the littlest readers, make the experience tactile: Urge babies to touch and turn the pages. Also mime actions (like eating), and use toys as props.

As your child enters the toddler years, identify colors and shapes on each page, then point them out in the world around you. Now’s the time to start asking questions as well. (Where did the cat go? Why was the mom sad?) Help your child relate to the characters’ emotions by asking if he’s ever felt the same way.

Take advantage of your cutie’s love of imaginative play by visiting the library and making it a game at home: Stamp books and “scan” a pretend library card. Role-playing can help set kids up for a positive lifetime habit.

Once your child hits preschool, make reading a full multimedia experience. Teach your kid that stories transcend the written word by acting out favorite tales together, listening to audiobooks, and employing a few apps.

You’re probably already pointing out letters to your pre-reader, but don’t forget to highlight numbers while reading, too. Ask math questions like: How many ice cream cones did the bear eat? Help your child count on her fingers. Also build comprehension skills by challenging kids to guess what happens next in the story.

As they move into kindergarten and grade school, children develop strong preferences of their own. Pay attention to what books your child responds to — and what topics pique his curiosity. Use this as a jumping-off point to connect him with new genres and do further exploration. If your kid loves the drawings in The Giving Tree, introduce him to poetry with another Shel Silverstein classic, Where the Sidewalk Ends. If Charlotte’s Web gets him wondering about spiders, search for arachnid facts together online. Your child will realize that reading empowers him to make discoveries.

Ready to help your kid get lost in a book? Look no further for expert-approved apps and tools, inspiring ideas from authors, and the best books for every type of reader.

Authors Share How to Teach Kids to Love Books

The Best Reading App and Book Apps

Readers' Choice: Classic Books for Kids

Quick tips for reading together:

  • Ignore suggested ages and read what your child shows interest in.
  • Substitute your child’s name for the protagonist’s.
  • Always end on a positive note by praising your kid for picking out good books and listening attentively.
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