Help! My Kids Don’t Like to Read

December 14, 2007

If you’re a teacher, author, librarian, bookstore employee, chances are that you’ve been asked, “How do I get my kids or students to read more?” or “How do I get my kids or students to like reading?”

As a teacher, I was asked some variation of those questions.  Since becoming an author, I’ve been asked even more.  As a reader, I am puzzled by the non-readers of the world.  I don’t know what I would do with my time if I didn’t read.  Sure I could watch more TV, but I only like so many TV shows.

There is no tried and true way to get kids, or even adults, reading.   We’re all unique and there are different reasons that reading appeals to us.  For some people, they will read any and everything that they can get their hands on.  Others are genre readers meaning they will only read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, self-help, etc.

Typically, I tell parents or teachers who ask me the question that they need to find the right book to place in the non reader or reluctant reader’s hands.  Once they do, they will be inclined to read more.  Even if they don’t go from reading 0 to 60 books in one week, peak their interest here and there.  Also, take an interest in what they find to read.  Have conversations with them about what they are reading and what you are reading.

As I travel around the Internet, several others have addressed this same issue of increasing reading in kids as either a parent or a teacher.  Rather than regurgitate their advice and tips for increasing reading among children and young adults, I am simply your tour guide to their websites:

Youth/Teen Services Librarian Liz Burns at Shelf Space offers eight tips for encouraging reading and how to make reading fun.

Young Adult Library Services Association defines reading and promotes expanding our idea of what reading really is.

There are also tips for teachers who want to motivate their students to read as well as develop independent readers.

Dads, Be A Good Dad suggests that you read to your kids as well as mom because it reinforces the notion that reading is cool if dad does it too.

Parent Tested Tips to Get Kids Reading offers great suggestions from parents around the country.  One of the suggestions is an incentive program for your kids with incentives ranging from an extra thirty minutes of TV time per week or allow the incentives to accrue per book read for a big reward when report cards come out.

This is a great list of 81 Ways to Get and Keep Your Kids Reading with some writing tips as well.

5 of my favorite tips from the list are: 
Show that you value reading- buy books, and give and receive them as gifts.
Read detective stories and have kids guess whodunit.
Wherever you and the kids travel, before and after, have kids read about the place.
Get subscriptions in kids’ names to magazines focusing on topics they like.
Suggest that your kids read the book before (or after) seeing the movie about it.

Another tip that I recommend is getting your child to join a book club.  If there’s not one in your area, start one.  Network within your circle of friends, church members, children’s classmates, etc. and then start a book club that caters to your kids.  Make it a parent and child book club.  Whatever you do, make it fun and meaningful for all of the participants.

GRITS Kidz is an online book club that features reading lists for all age groups.

Scholastic supports the idea of book clubs for tweens as well. 

Another fun idea is to create a personalized book for your child.  We all love our names and we especially love to see our name in a book somewhere, especially if your name is uncommon.  Think about the keychains, pencils, ink pens, and other novelty items sold at amusement parks with our names on them.  I don’t know about you, but it was disheartening for years to never see Carla anywhere on any item.  So how cool would it be to a kid to be reading a book that has a character with their name?  The smile on their face would be priceless.

And as your kids read, check out Shelfari as well.  Shelfari is dedicated to readers worldwide.   There they can create their own bookshelves that show other Shelfarians what they have read.  They might even encounter some of the authors they read on Shelfari and can add them as a friend.  Shelfari has great groups for all ages and reading preferences.  They can even create a group about books they like to read and invite others to join them.

So there you have it, ways for us to increase reading for kids, but a few thrown in for adults as well.


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