How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

What's Covered

Reading is a skill that your child will need for the rest of his life. It is one of the easiest ways to be informed. An interest and hopefully a love for reading can start from a young age. For a child who is not as interested in books or reading, here are some tips and tricks that could help. Keep in mind that each child is unique, so a couple of these could work better than the others. It should not be rushed because it will definitely take time, but they can help foster a love for reading.

Reading at An Early Age

For the longest time, a lot of people have thought that reading only begins in school.[1] In addition, people thought that act of reading is only about reading words from texts and sounding out or blending letters. Although formal reading is taught in school, children learn about reading from an early age. They cannot understand words and their meanings just yet, but they are already exposed to reading through symbols, signs, and of course, even letters.

Fostering a love for reading can start at an early age. Some parents like to read stories to their little ones in-utero. Reading routines are also established for toddlers and children both in the classroom and at home. In the classroom, story time happens during quiet times. As they grow older, they are given library times where they can read books of their choosing.

At home, the story time routine often happens before going to bed. Not only are these ways to establish a connection between you and your child, they can also pave the way to a love for reading. These are also ways to help with your child’s emergent literacy.

What is Emergent Literacy?

Emergent literacy is what your child is exposed to before formal reading.[2] They are building blocks needed to be able to read formally. They include letter recognition, letter sounds, and even scribbling. Children learn to read and follow directions from signs and symbols. They establish routines and learn language from books and other things that are read to them. Eventually, they will pick up books on their own and learn about the wonderful world of reading.

Stages of Reading

Jeanne Chall’s Stages of Reading enumerate the stages of reading from infanthood to adulthood. There are six stages that cover both listening and reading comprehension.[3] Two skills that will help strengthen your child’s reading skills.

The Stages of Reading can help you understand what are the appropriate books to read to your children. For books that may be a bit too advanced for your child, you can always sit and read the book and answer questions that he may have about the characters, plot, and more.

Stage Zero

The first stage is called the Pre-reading or Pseudo-reading Stage. It begins as early as six months and ends at six years. This is the time where your child will understand familiar words but cannot necessarily read them yet. To be able to meet this stage, you should provide books, read to your child, and engage in read-alouds.

For younger children, you may see them pretending to read familiar books. At first, they may hold the book upside down and just flip the pages. But eventually, your child will look at the images intently. In fact, if they are familiar with the book, they will either say parts that they often hear or will constantly ask you to read to them. To strengthen this stage, take these opportunities to read to them.

Stage One

The second stage is the Initial Reading and Decoding Stage. This lasts for a year, from when the child is six to seven years old. This is the time where formal reading is strengthened in school. Children will begin to connect letters, sounds, and printed and spoken words. They will be able to read simple texts and can sound out syllables when reading new words.

To strengthen this, practice direct instruction. This is when your child is able to read with you or a teacher. Practicing reading by reading common words will also help your child. You can encourage them to read as much as they can. For example, if you are out for a stroll, ask your child to read things that he sees from road signs, store names, and even directories.

Stage Two

The third stage is the Confirmation and Fluency Stage. This also lasts for a year, from age seven to age eight. At this stage, your child will be able to read simple and familiar words better or with increasing fluency. They become more confident in reading, however, their listening comprehension is still better than their reading comprehension.

To strengthen your child’s skills at this stage, continue to provide direct instruction and challenge them by working through decoding vocabulary words together. If your child shows interest in reading longer books, such as chapter books, this is a good age to introduce it to them. Should your child have a question about vocabulary, try working through the decoding together. Introduce the concept of context clues and begin to explain to your child how dictionaries are used.

Stage Three

The fourth stage is called Reading for Learning the New. This lasts for five years, from ages nine to thirteen. Your child will begin to be more independent in reading. He can learn new information through knowledge and will also begin to experience new feelings. This is also when your child will transition from stronger listening comprehension skills to better reading comprehension skills.

To support your child through this stage, you can provide increasingly complex texts like chapter books. You can also offer non-fiction books. If your child is showing an interest in learning about certain people, how objects work, or historical events, you can also introduce short biographies and almanacs.

Stage Four

From fifteen to seventeen years old, your child will be in the fifth stage or the Reading at Multiple View Points Stage. Your child will be reading more for school, thus he will begin to read a broader range of complex materials. At this stage, your child’s reading comprehension is better than his listening comprehension.

Strengthen your child’s skill at this stage by reading magazines and biological references for new knowledge. At this stage, your child will also be reading a lot for school. This could be an opportunity for you to support reading for leisure by providing books with lighter contents such as fiction or even comic books.

Stage Five

The sixth and final stage is the Construction-Reconstruction Stage, which begins at the age of eighteen and continues for life. Your child will learn to read for his own purpose and interest. At this stage, reading comprehension is more efficient than listening. In addition, your child now has the capacity to decide if he will continue to read just for academic purposes or for leisure as well.

Your child can strengthen this skill by continuing to read difficult materials. In college, the use of graphic organizers may help with reading comprehension. He can translate what he has read into what he has understood and organize it in a way he sees fit. The use of context clues is also something that should be strengthened in order to understand readings better.[4]

What You Can Do to Foster Your Child Love for Reading

Keeping the six Stages of Reading in mind, here are other things that you can also do with your child to help develop a love for reading. Some are things that you can do together, like reading together or taking trips to the library. Others involve friends, routines, alternatives, and a change in environment.

Read Early

Take every opportunity you can to read to your children early on. As mentioned, emergent literacy skills begin as early as infanthood. These skills include phonological awareness, letter recognition, print knowledge, and language skills.[5]

Spend time together and read to your child. You can even sing nursery rhymes and other children’s songs to familiarize your child with words and sounds. Re-read familiar and favorite books during story times and get your child involved. Some ways are to ask about what he sees, ask to point to certain objects, or to ask to fill in or complete the lines of familiar stories.

Set a Routine

Establishing a routine to read with your child can familiarize him with the wonderful world of books and reading. For younger children, have time to read in the morning or the afternoon and at night. As your children learn to read on their own, you can continue allotting times to read throughout the day. If they are old enough to not take naps, set time in the afternoon for reading sessions. These quiet times can be their gadget-free, rest times where they can put down their phones and tablets so they can read their favorite books.

Make Reading a Reward or An Incentive

You can make reading a reward or an incentive or a bargain. First, if your child does well in school or performed well in a game or show, you can offer to buy or borrow a book as an incentive. Bring your child to a bookstore or a library and give him the chance to pick something that he would like to read.

You can also use reading as a bargain. For instance, if your child wants to extend his bedtime, make a compromise that you will allow a certain amount of time if he reads. Not only will bargains like this encourage your child to read more, it will also do two things. One, he will learn to respect contracts or agreements. The second, he will establish a routine, should this bargain continue on.

Be Patient with Your Young Reader

It is important to remember that each child is unique. An interest in reading may not come naturally, but it can be nurtured slowly. Do not force them to read because it will plant negative feelings and thoughts towards reading.

Be patient with your child if he is not interested yet and work through it together. Even if your child can already read and is between stages one and two, you can still read to them. This will help with the direct instruction that they need to strengthen their reading and listening comprehension skills. Plus, you get to spend some quality time with them as you read together.

Borrow Books from the Library

If you have a limited number of books at home, you can take your child to the library. He will find all sorts of books with different topics of interest. Give him time to choose which book or books to take home. Accompany him as he looks around. You can also explain how he can choose books by reading the back cover for a glimpse of what the book is about.

In addition to choosing what to read, you can teach your child about responsibility when borrowing books. He will learn to take care of what is not his. He can also learn about accountability – in this case, returning the book or books in good condition on time.

Get Friends Involved

Aside from borrowing books from the library, your child can also foster a love for reading by having his friends involved. Your child and a friend or friends can share and even trade books. Having shared interests can also encourage the children to explore. They can talk about and read up on new topics and find resources to learn about them. They can take trips to the library and even make a book club.

Make a Book Club

Having a book club is a great way to encourage your child to enjoy reading while also working on his socioemotional development. Being in a book club can strengthen your child’s reading comprehension, interpretation, and inquiry skills. He can also learn how to express and share his thoughts on what he has read to his peers. A book club can help him participate in healthy dialogues about what he has learned and listening to what others have learned as well.

Use Comic Books or Graphic Novels

Exposure to books is related to vocabulary development and listening comprehension skills.[6] For a way to transition to reading more stories or novels, you might want to encourage your child to read comic books and graphic novels. Even if they are not reading chapter books or other forms of prose, the goal is to have them read. The images on these reading materials make reading more interesting because they can see what is happening as the plot progresses.

Let Them Choose What to Read

Your child may not show much interest in reading because some books may not be interesting to him. There could also be a chance that your child is already used to all the books he has at home. To address this, you can take a trip to the library or the bookstore. When you arrive, encourage your child to look for books that he could be interested in. You can even talk to him and see what topics he wants to explore.

This is important because reading about something of interest can make the process easier for your child. For example, if your child is interested in vehicles, you can ask him if he would also like to read books about car inventors or historical figures or events. Suggestions like these can broaden his resources and deepen his interest. Plus, as a parent, you are taking an active role in supporting his interests.

Model Reading to Your Child

Children learn a lot and model observed behavior from adults. In fact, according to Albert Bandura, a well-known theorist of child development, actions are learned by watching others, especially through imitation.[7] Keep this in mind as you model reading to your child. Your child will show more interest in reading if he sees you doing the same.

Set aside quiet times for yourself as well so that your child can see how you also enjoy reading a good book. Try reading at the same time as your child. You can be in the same room but reading different books. Should you have a chance to, you can share about what you are reading. At the same time, encourage your child to share what his book is about as well. This will show him that not only are you interested in the book you are reading, but in his book as well.

Place Books Around Your House

Having books accessible around your house can also encourage your child to read more. When he sees that books are available around him, he can be moved to choose to read more. You can also set up a reading nook for your child so that he has his own space when it is time to read.

Aside from comfortable seating, add in some book shelves for your child. You may set up the reading nook somewhere quiet around your house. Try to place it far from distractions like the television, computer, or even toys. This will give your child the chance to focus all his attention to what he is reading.

Have a Reading Journal

In your child’s reading corner, place some writing materials and a notebook nearby. Work on your child’s reading comprehension, reflective, and inquiry skills by providing a reading journal. You can start by asking him to write down the title of the book he is reading and the author and illustrator. Afterwards, you can ask him to write down quotes that struck him. He can even write down questions he thinks up as he reads. Eventually, if he finds the answer further down the story, he can write it down as well. Eventually, your child will be able to write down his reflections from the stories that he has read.

Using a reading journal is a good practice even for young children, especially those who are learning to write. You can help them by writing down their thoughts and read it back to them. Initially, if the grammar is incorrect, you can work with your child through this as well.. However, keep in mind that in having a reading journal at a young age, they are able to share their ideas about the story with you. In addition, your child’s ideas are concretized through writing.

Resources to Help You and Your Child

We have some items for you to help your child develop a love for reading. These resources are for both the parent and child. It is important to remember that as an early reader, your child will need assistance from you to strengthen his reading and listening skills and to build his confidence.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

This book has easy-to-follow steps for  lessons and activities to help your child learn how to read. It makes use of direct instruction, which is needed by your child, to be able to strengthen his reading and listening skills. According to the writers of this book, all you need is 20 minutes a day for each lesson.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
With the help of this book, set aside 20 minutes a day to work with your child through reading activities.

Learn to Read

This book is a workbook for beginning readers. It can help your child familiarize himself with sight words, or words that are commonly seen or used in print. You child can also work on his writing skills with the help of this book.

Learn to Read: A Magical Sight Words and Phonics Activity Workbook for Beginning Readers
A workbook for children aged five to seven. It is a great book for your child so that he can work on his reading and writing skills. This book also focuses on sight words, or frequently used words in print.

Learning Dynamics

Reading can be a bit daunting for children, but with enough practice, he can see that it is a rather fun activity. Try out these books from Learning Dynamics. It includes 50 books, a manual, and activity books to help your child build his confidence in reading.

Learning Dynamics 4 Weeks to Read
Help your early reader be a confident reader with his own personal library. Build your child’s confidence in reading with the books and activity books that come with this set.

Final Thoughts

It is best to start early so that at a young age, your child is already equipped with the emergent literacy skills he will need for when he is older. It is important to remember that this journey in reading is a partnership that begins with the child and his parents. Parent involvement in reading and writing is related to the development of early literacy skills which affects later reading skills.[8] It might be a little challenging at first to get your child to love reading, but it is definitely possible.

[1] Neuman, Susan B., and David K. Dickinson, editors. “Connecting Early Language and Literacy to Later Reading (Dis)Abilities: Evidence, Theory, and Practice.” Handbook of Early Literacy Research, The Guilford Press, 2003, pp. 97–110.

[2] Neuman, Susan B., and David K. Dickinson, editors. “Emergent Literacy: Development from Prereaders to Readers.” Handbook of Early Literacy Research, The Guilford Press, 2003, pp. 11-29.

[3] Chall, Jeanne Sternlicht. “Stages of reading development.” (1983).

[4] Chall, Jeanne Sternlicht. “Stages of reading development.” (1983).

[5] Sénéchal, Monique, and Jo-Anne LeFevre. “Parental Involvement in the Development of Children’s Reading Skill: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study.” Child Development, vol. 73, no. 2, 2002, pp. 445–460.

[6] Sénéchal, Monique, and Jo-Anne LeFevre. “Parental Involvement in the Development of Children’s Reading Skill: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study.” Child Development, vol. 73, no. 2, 2002, pp. 445–460.

[7] Paris, Jennifer, et al. “Introduction to Child Development.” Understanding the Whole Child: Prenatal Development through Adolescence, edited by Alexa Johnson, 1.2, College of the Canyons, 2019, pp. 21–51.

[8] Sénéchal, Monique, and Jo-Anne LeFevre. “Parental Involvement in the Development of Children’s Reading Skill: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study.” Child Development, vol. 73, no. 2, 2002, pp. 445–460.

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Tiffany Biondi

Tiffany Biondi

Mother of 4 kids, Tiffany is a certified childcarer and during her free time, she write posts in thebabychoice to share her hands on experience and knowledge.