love for reading

Raising Readers: 9 Wayt to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Kids

Are you raising readers? Instill a love for reading in your kids with these nine strategies.

These ideas are family tested, and each idea has been a hit with our own children. Then add your reading tips to the list in the comments. We are always excited about discovering new ways of encouraging our children to read and grow.

1. Begin reading to your children early, and set big goals.

Our library has a 1,000 books by kindergarten program. As a part of this program, our friendly librarian provided us a  poster with 250 footprints on each side. For every book we read to our toddler, a footprint gets stamped off. When one poster is completed, we will exchange it for a second one. Of course, toddler books are short. However, 1,000 books before kindergarten are still quite an accomplishment. Jenny and I have found that setting a big goal helps us be more intentional about reading to Addison. [Tweet “When it comes to reading to our kids, it’s never too early to start.”]

2. Expand your children’s reading horizons.

The first time Jenny took our girls to the library, she insisted that they get one reading book, one hands-on book (such as a science, craft, or art book), and one learning book. Initially, our children were skeptical. Yet, over a year later, Brooklyn–our middle child–still insists on checking-out a book from each category. When it comes to reading, there is a temptation to play it safe. However, when children are stretched, they broaden their reading horizons and discover new books they love.

3. Take Advantage of bedtime stories.

If reading is a challenge in your home, try offering your children the choice to go to bed or hear a bedtime story. The bedtime story will win every time. [Tweet “Children learn to love reading by reading, and by being read to.”] Habits–even good habits–are difficult to break. Parents who read to their children will soon have the privileged of watching their children read to themselves.

4. Let Your kids have fun.

Sometimes us parents get too worked up over which books our children read. I remember reading a Bible comic-book as a teenager. It was the entire Bible, written comic-book style. I devoured it over several days. It was a book that helped me grow my love for reading, and as a result, my reading skills improved. Last summer, when our daughter checked out a stack of comic books from the library, the librarian let out a sigh of disapproval. Nevertheless, this year, Mackenzie’s reading is stronger than ever. [Tweet “Reading something is always better than reading nothing. “] Even fun books help our kids to grow!

5. Download audio-books.

Amazon Audibles is a hidden gem. I took Amazon up on their two free books, trial offer. Now I’m hooked! The girls and I will be finishing the third installment of the Harry Potter series on our drive to school. Listening to audio-books is an excellent way to help children expand their vocabulary and imagination.

6. Keep books everywhere.

To raise readers, try keeping books everywhere. I insist that our girls keep a book in their backpack and in the car. If a book is close by, they will read.

7. Model a love for reading.

Parents who want their children to love reading must love to read themselves. [Tweet “Reading is as much caught as taught.”] When our children see us making time for books, they will follow our lead.

8. Read collaboratively.

Growing up, nightly devotions were a time of collaborative reading. We would have a different reader each night. Switching readers allows kids to experience different reading styles. Getting everyone involved in the process sends that message that reading is important.

9. Reinforce reading with movie rewards.

I love to read a book to my girls and then watch the movie together. So many excellent books that have been made into movies. A movie and pizza night is a fun treat for kids to work toward. Our family is currently doing this with the Harry Potter series and previously did this with the Narnia books. Talking about how the movies and books differ makes for an engaging discussion, and it’s an excellent way to reinforce what has been read.

How Will You Instill a Love for Reading in Your Kids?

How are you instilling a love for reading in your kids? Have any of these strategies worked well for you? What other tips do you have for raising readers? I look forward to learning from you and continuing the discussion in the comments below! 

Finally, for more insights on kids and reading, be sure to check out this open letter to my girls on must-read books!

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

20 thoughts on “Raising Readers: 9 Wayt to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Kids”

  1. Thank you for this 🙂 As an avid reader and librarian I’m trying to install the same love of reading to my little toddler! Great post! I’m so glad I was able to find your blog through the link up! can’t wait to read more!

    1. Hey Cait,

      Thanks for stopping by and for joining in the discussion. I’m glad your here. It sounds like your kiddo is going to get off to an excellent start. Our girls love their library, and the librarians are all great at helping them stay engaged in their reading too–so may excellent books and programs. Thank you for what you do!

  2. Enjoyed this article Jed. I find my kids like to do what Dad does so I lead by example. A couple days ago I sat down to read for an hour and my 2-year old immediately got one of his books off the shelf and brought it to me. So I stopped reading, set him on my lap and read the story. As soon as it was done he wanted another one. I may have only read for an half- hour on my book but the time spent and impressing the importance of reading on him was more valuable than my own personal development. Seeing him enjoy listening to me read not only tells me he likes to read but it’s developing listening skills and building relationships.

    1. Hey Kirby,

      What a powerful example of modeling, and teaching the importance of reading to your kids. Addison is the same way, she’ll walk up to me holding a books, and say “read” with a cute smile. I’m happy that she loves reading already. It does keep me a busy daddy though–but how can anyone say “no,” to their smiling daughter, with a book 🙂 Thanks for for the great story.

  3. These are all great tips, Jed. Comic books are certainly a great way to get kids hooked on reading (it worked for me, and that was back in the day when comics were still seventy-five cents apiece!); in that sense, they are no different than early-developmental picture books: They introduce children to the concept and mechanics of narrative and incrementally condition them to tackle longer, denser stories written entirely in prose. When it comes to reading, no form or medium should be discouraged; teaching our kids to be versatile readers — of novels, of essays, of articles, of poetry, of nonfiction — is one of the great gifts, the great advantages, we can give them.

  4. What a fun discussion. As you know Jed our family can’t get enough time to read. When the girls were young we had to implement a no books at the dinner table rule. What a great problem to have. However we did have trouble trying to get the girls to read more technical or instructional books, newspapers or magazines. My husband resorted to paying them a quarter for every article they read and discussed with him. It worked great!

    1. I love this story! We may need to try it out with our girls too. Of course, Brooklyn is already passionate about science, so we’ll have to be careful, or we might end up dishing out a lot of quarters 🙂

  5. I’m an avid reader and always have been. In addition, I’m a reading specialist (I know, I know … another thing, right?). But I have worked educationally in teaching reading (and writing and language) skills to a wide variety of learners over the last 25 years.

    One thing that’s great to do with reading at any age is to build real-world connection and curiosity with each read. Rather than leaving the story “as it is,” take moments to pause and ask questions or have the kids ask questions. In other words, teach them how to be curious:

    “What do you think will happen next?”

    “What would you have done?”

    “How do you feel about what happened there?”

    “How do you think you are you the same as this character? How do you think you’re different?”

    This isn’t just “the job of the school”; it starts (and continues) at home.

    You can also carry over themes into real life situations when the book is not open:

    “Wow, this traffic is bad! What kind of spell do you think Hermoine would make to help if she were here? What do you think her spell would sound like?”

    “Oh, look, a caterpillar! Remember the book we read about ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’? What do you think this caterpillar has been doing all day? What will happen next?”

    Reading is a connection both to fantasy and real world processing.

    Lastly, I don’t think kids always need to read books they love. This ties in with real-world processing again. It’s OK for girls to read books about boys, and boys to read books about girls. It’s OK to read a book that was boring to them, to finish it, and then to talk about the experience:

    “What made this book boring to you?”

    “If you were the author, how could you have made this book more interesting to kids like you?”

    “What are some other things that aren’t super fun but that we finish anyway?”

    Etc.

    1. Erik,

      I didn’t know that you’re a reading specialist too–that’s incredible! What a great list of questions. I especially like the one about Hermonie–so many possibilities for fun discussions with this one. The girl’s teachers were encouraging us parent’s to do exactly this type of thing during the open-house this year.

      I love how you encourage kids to finish books they don’t enjoy, and then talk about the experience too. In college, I read plenty of books that I didn’t particularly enjoy–and certainly would not have finished on my own–yet, years later I’ve discovered that these books added a ton of value to my life. I’m not very good at pushing my kiddos to engage in disciplines that they don’t enjoy, and need to get better at this–perhaps by reminding myself of all of the mentors who pushed me, and of the value that this added to my life. Thank you for this!

  6. We too have done all 9 of these things and I see my boys and how much they love books. We usually check so many out of the library at once that we’ve had more than one offer for help carrying them out to our car! But they devour them!

  7. Lori @ Frog's Lilypad

    These are really great ideas, Jed. While I had rather have a real book in hand, my son likes to use an e-reader. He is 16 and still loves being read to, so it is done nightly so my husband can enjoy the book also. Thanks for sharing these ideas with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. Hey Lori,

      Thanks for joining in the conversation. I love linking up with you guys at Thankful Thursdays. Yes, e-readers are fun. I used to be a “books only,” type of reader. However, when Addison was born, I discovered the value of a tablet with a back-light, and the ability to turn to the next page, with the swipe of a thumb 🙂

      It’s awesome to hear that your 16 year-old-son is devouring books. It sounds like you guys have really modeled and instilled this value in your home.

  8. I can’t add to the list. We’ve done many of the things you listed. They’ve worked. My daughter loves to read stories, and can immerse herself in a book for hours to visit different times, places and people. My son is likes to know how things work, so goes for the instruction manual whenever we get a new gadget or something that needs assembling–he likes to read so he can do.

  9. Awesome tips! I love the idea of having them get books from different categories, as you never know what might end up really catching their attention in the end. Thanks for linking up with the Best of the Blogosphere!

  10. We are a big-book-household over here so I really appreciate this list. I would have to say that #1 is the best in my opinion. The more we read to them as little ones, the more of a habit we are creating. Also, limiting screen time is important too. Thank you for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays @ Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! 🙂

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