20 May 2010 10:27 AM

Motivating Kids to Read

by rbavaria

Lots of questions coming in to the Dr. Rick Blog asking for tips on how to motivate reading in children.  One recent mom lamented that despite her love of books and nice library at home, her daughter reads “only what is absolutely compulsory” and then retreats to the TV or computer.  Advice, please, Dr. Rick.


An age-old question, made even more challenging by the vast array of distractions and interests made possible by today’s technology.  Trying to develop a love of reading in our children is one of life's greatest challenges, opportunities, and blessings.  Like just about everything else with great potential, it's not always easy.


Here are some thoughts I suggested to Worried Mom.

  1. Be a role model.  Let your daughter see the pleasure you receive from reading.  Children learn from our actions much more readily than they learn from our words.  Sounds  like you're already well on the way with this tactic.  Give her time.

  2. Join her in her interests.  Watch with her some of the TV and games she's interested in.  There are plenty of books and reading sites that are devoted to her interests.  One example is www.BookAdventure.com.  Book Adventure is a free, reading motivational Web site that helps students in grades K-8 choose from more than 7,500 titles and redeem points from reading books into small prizes. 

    Show her how to access the these sites and read with her.  Reluctant readers will read what they're interested in.  It's an important "hook" to get them later to expand their interests and reading habits.

  3. Provide her with some reading routines at home.  I've written about these often -- click on Archive above and read some of my suggestions like "Drop Everything and Read" nights, reading aloud, family book-conversations, dramatizing favorite books and scenes from books, chapter books, comic books, and confidence-building activities centered on reading.

The important thing is not to belittle her interests or over-emphasize your expectations.  Let her see that reading can cover a multitude of subjects, including her own interests.  The more she reads, the more her interests will grow, which will only add to her further reading.  You don't have to say, "I told you so," but it's okay to feel it.



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