6 Tips for Teaching Children to Love Reading

From the perspective of a homeschooled alumni with dyslexia.
By , on April 5, 2017 - Teaching

How to teach your child to love reading

I have dyslexia. It made reading miserable for years. I only learned to read around the 4th grade. However, when I went to college, I pursued a degree in Literature and now love reading. I can’t promise that your child’s experience will be the same as mine, but I can tell you that with the right mixture of teaching and encouragement you can take a child who hates the very idea of books and turn them into an avid, life long reader.

If you're a parent who has been asking yourself, "how can I get my child to love reading," these tips will get you on the right track.

1. Read to Your Kids

This is one of the most obvious pieces of advice but also one of the things people often skip. Read to your kids. Start when they’re little with picture books, Bible stories and fairy tales but keep going even as they are able to read. Read them books they find interesting but that are also the next grade level or two above them: they will start understanding all the different sorts of books they can read if they keep improving their reading ability. It will help them read harder books themselves as they start to seek out in-depth stories.

2. Video Games with Words

A lot of teachers and parents hate video games or see them as a guilty pleasure, but I can tell you that I would not be able to read without them. My dad, seeing I was having so much trouble reading, bought me a Pokémon game and guidebook. The games had so much written dialogue that was so central to the gameplay that pretty soon I was forced to read to progress in the game.

While you don’t necessarily need to get educational videogames for your kids, make sure that the games you get have a lot of reading that cannot be skipped. You should also limit the amount of time kids can play: while it can help hone their reading skills you don’t want video games to consume other time that should go to reading, socializing or school work.

3. Libraries and Summer Reading

Most libraries have summer reading programs where you can win books of your choosing based on how many books you have read that summer. This was the most exciting thing possible for my little brother and me. We would compete to see who could read the most and by the end of the summer we would have both read 50+ books. Click here to locate your local library.

4. Let Your Children Pick out Their Own Books

There are schoolbooks that children have to read, yes. But children should also be allowed to pick out books from their local library or bookstore for themselves. Children are way more likely to read a book they chose for themselves and even more likely to read a book that was bought to be their’s and nobody else’s.

5. Don’t Make Your Kids Read Books They Hate

Once I started reading we had a rule: give every book a chance, read 10% of it or the first chapter. If you still hate it put it down. You don’t have to write a report on it; you don’t have to talk about it; you don’t have to finish it. Start another book and see if you like that one better.

This gave me the freedom to read the books that I actually ended up liking and didn’t leave me slogging through books that were too hard or on topics I had no interest in.

6. Don’t Watch so Much TV

While I believe that video games have a real place when it comes to reading education TV does not. I love TV, and there in lies the problem. TV is so distracting and engrossing children can easily be sucked into hours of mindless cartoons. Make sure you limit the amount of TV your children watch or better yet don’t let them watch any TV at all.

About Blaise Denton

Blaise is a student at Florida State University pursing a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He was homeschooled for most of his childhood and writes about alternative education. He lives in Tallahassee where he just married his college sweetheart.

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