Literacy is arguably the most important skill a child can have, and any educator will tell you that reading is the best way for youngsters to acquire new vocabulary and even writing skills. But what if your child turns her nose up every time you initiate story-time or recommend a book? As you know, forcing the issue can often backfire, but there are some ways that you can gently nudge your child in the right direction and help her develop a love for reading over time:

Read together.

Reading is something you can do with your child no matter how old he or she is. According to BabyCenter, babies respond to sounds in the womb as early as 28 weeks, so it’s definitely never too early to start. As your child grows older, make reading a special time for the two of you to cuddle, giggle, and just be together. Your child will quickly learn to associate reading with fun, pleasant experiences as a result of this shared activity. Even when your child learns to read on his own, keep up your reading routine and invite him to read to you from time to time. Simply sitting quietly with an older child while reading separate books can be a bonding experience too, and one that could potentially foster a lifelong love of reading.

Display books.

Setting up a bookshelf in your living room or in your child’s room is a good way to let your child know that books are things to be cherished and taken good care of. It will also provide a visual reminder for your child and give her access to books that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Choose engaging titles.

Wish your child would read Huckleberry Finn instead of Captain Underpants? You’re not alone. Parents often strive to select the most educational titles for their youngsters to read. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with this, it’s important to consider your child’s interests when selecting titles, and even let your child take the reins sometimes when it comes to book selection. After all, even avid readers will become bored with a book if it’s poorly written or about a topic they have no interest in. Allow your child to choose his own books (within reason), even if it’s not something you would have chosen yourself.

Set a good example.

Some people believe that in order to have a reader, you must be a reader, and there is some degree of truth to this statement. It’s no surprise that kids often follow in their parents’ footsteps, for better or for worse, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to set a good example when it comes to practicing good reading habits.

Need more suggestions for how to make reading fun? Check out these 10 tips for transforming your reluctant reader into a bookworm in short order!

2019 Update: Find more helpful ideas in the article How to Improve Your Child’s Reading Skills from Smart Parent Advice.


Tricia · July 25, 2012 at 4:19 am

Love this article… perfect for parents! This is the common sense way for busy parents to help kids with their reading! Sooo important!

    Tammy Bennecke · July 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for the feedback Tricia! That’s exactly what we are striving for with this blog, to give that common sense approach for parents who are trying to help their children. 🙂

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