There are a lot of fun reels and TikToks that highlight the one book that made you fall in love with reading. I have a few, but my first memory of truly being excited about books was a trip to the library. I might have been eight or so. I remember walking down the tall aisles of books, finding a picture book, sitting down and feeling transported on an adventure. Plus I got my first library card that day too. Double Win!
Then a handful of years later, my oldest son was about six or so, and he wasn’t interested in reading books on his own. He loved being read to, but reading anything above early readers was a battle.
I was deflated, defeated, and a bit heartbroken. One of the few things that were important to me as a parent was to instill a love of reading in my kids.
So, I had to change tactics.
These are the 5 Tricks I used to encourage my reluctant reader.
Make reading a habit
No this is true of you and your kids. One of the biggest (and at times hardest) truths of parenting is your kids will do what they see you doing.
So the number one thing to do to encourage your kids in reading is to read. Join a book club, or a GoodReads reading challenge, or pick up a few magazine subscriptions. Yep, reading magazines is still modeling reading.
For your kids, make reading a part of your bedtime routine. Both out loud reading and independent reading. Sarah MacKenzie’s Read-Aloud Revival resources are great for finding books and a routine that works well for your family.
Go to the Library
Cheers ring out in my home when I say, ‘We’re going to the library today’. My kids love the library and I love the silence that fills my home post a library run. Plus the silence kids freaks my husband out, so I get a good giggle.
Albert Einstein said, “The only thing you need to know is the location of the library.”
Trips to the library don’t have to be every week to build in the joy of going to the library. Even once a month is enough to build excitement. Now that my kids are in school the library is usually the place we hit up during a school break. Usually, there are a few friends there also.
But the library is not just a place for books. There are so many community events that happen at a library. Look at their activity calendar and make the library more about having fun than forcing books. Librarians are true magic so get to know yours and you will be amazed at what a library can provide for your kids and family.
Always say yes to the book
This is a mental attitude that can be hard to implement. Anytime one of my kids asks if I will read him a book, I have to say yes. Mid-laundry or to-do list (cooking is the only exception) I stop, cuddle up with my kid(s) and read to them.
This statue communicates two things. One that my child is important to me, and two that reading is important. By the end of the chosen book I typically have all three of my boys cuddling around me, which often refuels my momma’s heart to keep on with the rest of the crazy day.
Or even turn it around. If you see your kiddo reading, ask if you can read with them. You don’t have to be reading the same book. It just builds a sweet spot for your and your kids with books.
I challenge you to give it a try.
Create quiet moments for listening to books
If you’ve been around here you know I have three boys, who we lovingly call two tornadoes and a hurricane. Now imagine putting tornadoes and hurricanes in a mini-van. Spacious as a swagger-wagon, they also propense and amplify sound well.
To temper this loud confined space, and to minimize the twitch in my eye, we often listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and adventure CDs in the car. Even on short little drives.
Because they can’t hear what’s going on in the story if they are loud and pestering their brother. Plus research has shown that listening to audiobooks stimulates the same brain area as reading. So we’re reading in the car without the risk of getting car sick.
At our home, we call this time of day Quiet time. It is an hour spent in their rooms or an hour spent listening to an audio adventure in the playroom. Either way, I get a few moments of quiet in the middle of the day, and my kids get the same benefits of reading without arguing about who’s turn it is with the book.
What quiet moments in your day could you turn on an audiobook for your kids?
Embrace Graphic Novels
When graphic novels started to be a thing, I cringed. I thought what a limitation on a child’s imagination, almost as if someone was putting graffiti on the capitol building. I was offended. I declared, ‘I’ll never buy a graphic novel’, that was my first mistake.
Never say never as a parent, 'cause God has ways of combating your pride.
No matter what I did, my reluctant reader was drawn to graphic novels. They make my head hurt, but he loved reading them, so I had to recant my never statement. Then we discovered my reluctant reader had dyslexia.
With this realization, all the buttons switched, and I had to change my definition of reading. (How my son’s Dyslexia change my definition of reading) Graphic novels allowed my son to be drawn into a story with pictures and not overwhelmed by a page of words that seemed to move around on him. He was captivated by these types of books and reading. His experience was different, but the result was the same.
It seems that publishers have noticed this need in the book market. Most bestselling books, even Anne of Green Gables, have a graphic novel form. If they don’t have one out there yet they might soon enough. This form of the book reaches out to the dyslexic community making reading more attainable, even before a diagnosis.
Don’t dis it until you’ve tried it.
If you have a reluctant reader in your home, don’t fret. Pick one of the above tips and give it a try. Remember building a habit and a love of reading takes time.
If you have concerns about dyslexia or other reading delay seek out your pediatrician or school diagnostician. Sometimes just having someone say, nope, they're fine is helpful to our momma's hearts.