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25 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Your Child

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25 Ways to Make Reading Fun For Your Child pin with a little girl reading to her teddy bears.

Would you like to make reading fun for your reluctant reader?

As a mom who is a speech/drama and English teacher, I longed for the days when I would catch my children up too late reading a good book under the covers. Unfortunately, that never happened.

My kids were too busy playing outside during the day. In fact, when they hit the sheets at night, they were out cold. No reading sneakers at my house.

There are some kids who are naturally drawn to books like I was as a child. You know, the kind of kid with a flashlight under the covers reading way past bedtime.

For those of you who have that kid, you can skip this blog post. I am talking to those of you who have kids that would rather be doing anything but reading.

This week I heard a former first-grade teacher and private reading tutor, Ashley Smith, talk with our MOPS group about reading. She gave some really wonderful ideas on how to help make reading fun for your child.

This list is a combination of her materials and mine. You are getting the wisdom of two experts for free.

Related: Parenting: 3 Biggest Secrets I Wish I Knew When My Kids Were Young

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How to Make Reading Fun For Your Kids pin with a little girl who has big eyes and looks shocked.

How to Make Reading Fun For Your Child

1.  Showcase the books in your home. Put books in a place of prominence. You want your children to know books are important. Teach them to treat books as a treasure because they are just that-a treasure.

They are expensive! Don’t let them throw, tear, chew, or deface them.

2. Only put the holiday books out at the holidays. This will make your books special. I used to put the holiday books out in the living room as decor.

It made it easy to pick up and read them out loud when we had downtime. This will make reading fun for your child and special during the holidays.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

 Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

3. Create a special reading area. Both of my kids had beanbag chairs in their room. This made it a nice place to plop down and read comfortably.

4. Read out loud to your kids. Ashley said to read out loud through elementary school or even beyond if you can get away with it. I stopped too early.

I wish I had read chapter books out loud longer. We did read devotionals out loud periodically even through high school. I guess that counts…

5. Read alone. Make time during the day for your child to read alone. Start with a small amount of time when in preschool. (Use picture books until the child can read.)

Increase the time as the child gets older. This directly works on your child’s ability to sit and concentrate. We did this all the way through high school, especially in the summer.

6. Make your own book. This is so cool! You can create a Chat book using the pictures of your own child. Ashley suggested themes such as the child’s birthday party, visiting grandparents, vacations, outings to the zoo or park, etc.

There is nothing like being the star of the show. Great gift idea, too.

7. Teach character when choosing books. I utilized a church library for books on character. The public library will have them, too. Look for ones with a problem/solution theme. These books will help prepare your child for real-life scenarios.

Pick books on sharing, picky eating, toilet training, including others, whining, friendships, kindness, love, clean-up, pouting, good/bad behavior, lying, etc.

I honed in on character issues I was seeing with my child at the time. It is a non-threatening way to reteach good behavior.

Related: 9 Character Qualities Your Child Needs to be Successful

8. Use the library as a fun field trip. Go to the library weekly. We attended on the day they had story time. Many times my kids sat in my lap while we listened to the story.

When they got older, I was able to look for books while they sat quietly by themselves. You are training them to sit, listen, and have self-control while hearing a story.

9. Read over or skim the book before you get it. I found many books that were not appropriate for my kids. They had things in there I was not ready to discuss with them at their young age. Protect their innocence.

10. Get soft cloth and plastic books.  These books are safe for a baby or toddler. ((Check the label to make sure.) They can take a little more wear and tear. My kids often chewed and drooled on them.

No harm at this age.

Book care can start when they are a little older. Introduce board books (small cardboard books) when they are ready to start taking care of them. They are a bit more sturdy than regular books.

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25 Ways to Make Reading Fun For Your Child pin with a mother and daughter reading books.

11. Read nursery rhymesNursery rhymes teach rhythm, fun sounds, letters, vocabulary, and creativity. Make sure to read the classics. Even adults refer to these works. This is a great way to make reading fun for little ones.

12. Use picture books. I love the Carl books.  There are no words in the books. You and your child can make up your own story as you go along. My kids thought they were reading when we looked at them.

13. Find ways to get books cheap. We were on a tight budget. I never bought a book full price at a bookstore. I found books at garage sales, Half Price Books, I traded with friends and family, and we received them as gifts.

Now there is Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor app, etc. Utilize these avenues so you can keep your library fresh but inexpensive. You can also sell them to buy more.

14. Read books aloud in funny voices. Ok, so I realize I am a Speech/Drama teacher, but you can do it, too. Kids think this is hilarious. Even I got confused with all the voices when there were too many characters.

Don’t worry. You kids won’t care. They will be too busy laughing at you and the story.

15. Put books back in the bookcase. You can teach clean up skills by always putting the books back when reading time is over. This will help keep your books from getting torn up. And it reinforces how special they are to the family.

16. Cut out the iPad.  Ashley said it is causing not only reading problems but behavior problems. When she goes into homes to tutor, one of the things she sees on a consistent basis is that the child who has reading issues is on the iPad way too much.

The iPad is a babysitter. Use it sparingly.

In fact, if you take it away and your child throws a tantrum, he/she is addicted. She said to slowly cut back the time and either wean your child off of it or only use it for a short period during the day.

The educational games DO NOT help. Most of all, she said not to use the iPad as a reward. I know, deep sigh.

17. Snuggle when you read. My kids were always in my lap snuggled up to me, or we were lying in bed together reading. (Unless we were at the dinner table.)

You want to create a warm and loving environment. Make it a fun time to look forward to every night.

Related: How to Get to Your Child’s Heart

18. Encourage your child’s gifts. Know your child well enough to pick out books he/she is into at that time. My son was into diggers, construction, tools, and dozers for a very long time. I found every book (and videotape) on the subject.

19. Capitalize on dead time. You can read at mealtimes, before naps, carpool, or bedtime. Mix it up. My kids had board books and those cloth books with them in the car when they were little.

2o. Trade out your books. Keep some of your books up on a shelf where your kids cannot reach them. Trade out your books when you see your kids are getting tired of the ones they have. This way the books will feel new.

21. Save special books.  I have about 15-20 special books I have saved to pass down to my grandchildren. I will probably keep them at my house for them to read when they come.

Some of the books are ones I had when I was a child. They are fragile and very special to me. I told you I was a book freak.

22. Get educational books. Make sure your home library includes books on colors, counting, shapes, and letters. You want your child to be working on this as early as possible. This will help them to be school-ready.

23. Trace with their fingers. When you are reading letters and numbers, have your preschooler trace them with his/her finger. Use as many senses as possible when reading. When writing or tracing, start letters and numbers from the top.

Don’t let them trace starting at the bottom of the letter. You will develop a bad writing habit that will have to be broken later.

24. Experience what you read. If you are going or just went to see airplanes on vacation then check out books about airplanes. If you are going to the zoo, pick out books about animals you will see at the zoo.

Read about different cultures and then eat their type of food afterward. Make your books come alive in real life.

25. Create your own stories. My kids loved it when we made up stories that included them. My husband was especially good at making the funniest bedtime stories.

He once made up a story about Indians scalping my father-in-law who is bald. The next time my son saw his grandfather he asked him about it. My father-in-law was hysterical. We still laugh about that today.

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25 Ways to Make Reading Fun For Your Child pin with books, an apple, and pencils on a table.

Related: Summer Schedule: How to Keep Your Kids From Driving You Crazy

Long-Term Effects of Reading

Several things happened when my kids went to college and beyond:

1. Both of my kids called and thanked me for developing a love for reading. They would not have made it through their college programs without having a strong reading background. (One child is still in college.)

Books are the key to unlocking every other subject your child will study. It is important you develop a strong reader so he/she can progress academically.

2.  Both of my kids love to read and have developed good reading habits. Actually, my son might like fishing more than reading, but he LOVES to read about fishing.

3. My son, who loved diggers, dozers, tools, and construction…His current job is in real estate. This is how he makes his living full-time. I saw his gifts early on and found books and videos that reinforced his passion. It paid off in dividends.

Related: The Best Parenting Tips You Will Ever Find

Keeping it Real

Remember, both of my kids wanted to be outside. They didn’t love reading when they were younger. I had to learn how to make reading fun. This was a struggle in my house.

There were a couple of times I grounded them for not doing their school-assigned reading. It was hard to make that reading fun.

Don’t let your kids talk you out of reading alone. It is a skill that needs to be learned in order to move on to higher level thinking. They will try to talk you into reading aloud to them only. (I think that is why I eventually stopped reading aloud to them. ) This is a hard balance.

I had to push my kids to read alone. It was a struggle!

My children’s love of books grew as they matured. Be patient. It takes time. Be consistent and create good family habits. You may not get a thank you until college. That is okay.

They really do like the time you spend with them even if they don’t say it. Miss one bedtime story and you will hear complaints.

Related: How to Create Family Memories With a Crazy Schedule

*You can also find Ashley Smith on Facebook. She works in Dallas, Texas. I was highly impressed with her knowledge and skills as a teacher and reading expert. Here is her email if you want to contact her: kreadyandbeyond@gmail.com.

What things do you do to make reading fun?

Book on Family Estrangement from a Biblical Point of View

Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking to each other. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.

Scroll down or look to the side to sign up. You can also get it at your favorite bookstore.

Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Parenting and Family. This is a place for moms with preschool age kids or older to talk about their struggles with parenting, family life, education, or marriage. You will find biblically based advise from other moms who want to raise godly kids.

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Julie Plagens

35 Comments

  1. Anne-onedeterminedlife on May 31, 2019 at 10:09 am

    My kids love to read and we do so many of these things. A lot of our books are too young for them so I need to go through our books and get new ones.

  2. Charlie | MississippiMom on September 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for these tips! I have been struggling for two years with one of my kids who “hated” reading. Just recently he said, “I think I might like reading now.” Hallelujah! It’s a battle that’s worth fighting!

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Oh, yay! It is slow, but it does happen over time if you just keep reading. Good job!

  3. Susan Evans on September 19, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    It’s so important to get kids to love reading when they are young!

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      So true. It is important to start young!

  4. Christine Wildman on September 19, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    I homeschooled are five children, and the girls took to reading quite naturally. Even though they loved being outside. The boys, on the other hand didn’t care much for reading until they found out about Chilton’s manuals for cars! Then I realized if I had books that taught the boys how to do things, they were much more interested in Reading. Interesting Lee enough one boy went on to be his own business owner as a contractor, and buys non-working cars repairs them for resale. The other is quite a gifted diesel engine mechanic! One daughter, when her rabbit died, ask to go to the library and got a book, came back and decided to skin and tan the rabbit skin! As gross as that sounds, the goal to have children that knew how to read and knew how to find the answers they needed to learn had been accomplished! I’m sharing this for all the new moms because you have a lot of great ideas here!

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      Oh, wow. This is absolutely brilliant. I love this. My son liked comics and manuals, too. He was reading, so I was happy. I did have him read some books to make sure he was learning how to maneuver a book.

  5. mica on September 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    such helpful tips!! thank you!

  6. Sophia Inza on September 19, 2018 at 10:28 am

    I so agree about reading out loud! Our pediatrician told us about that and we are doing that with our 4 month old! 🙂

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      Yes, you can even start in the womb. I did.

  7. Jen @ Jenron Designs on September 18, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Gosh I remember loving to read as kids I had a book subscription where I would get new book in the mail each week and I always looked forward to it. Funny how things change.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      So true. There are so many more things competing for our kid’s time. Social media being a big one when they get older.

  8. Maegan on September 18, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Great ideas! I’ve been storing our holiday books with our decor, and it’s worked out just as you’ve said in your post! The books last longer, and the children are thrilled to read them. I’m excited to share your post on one of our social media pages!

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      Oh, I am so glad you are sharing this. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

  9. Jasmine Hewitt on September 18, 2018 at 8:00 am

    i love the create your own book idea!

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      I would have loved to have done this with my kids. I am glad that is out now for parents to create a book.

  10. Tallary on September 17, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Great post. I love the ideas of creating a special reading nook area in your home. That’s something I would love to do! I also really like, and never thought about, getting holiday books out only around the holidays and using them as decor sort of. What a wonderful idea.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      I hope that works for you. Thanks for reading.

  11. Ashley on September 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    This is such a great and timely post as I have a kindergartener and preschooler who are both learning to read. I already incorporate many of these tips to make reading more fun for the little ones but we have never created our own stories. Gonna incorporate that this week.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      Oh, great. I hope they love it. Thanks for reading.

  12. Yolanda on September 17, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    So many great tips here. My son can be reluctant to open a book at times so I am always seeing how I can get him motivated. We started having family reading time where my husband, myself and my youngest read our books together. This actually has worked really well. I’m definitely all about having a snuggle and reading out loud during reading time too 🙂

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:31 pm

      Oh, great idea. I love that you are all reading together. What a great example for your kids.

  13. Lauren @ Simply-Well-Balanced on September 17, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    As a teacher I love these suggestions. My daughter and I do nightly read alouds and it’s my favorite part of the day and she is almost 10.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      So glad to keep the reading going. It is a great way to bond. And get a great story.

  14. maria on September 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    I agree, you can create an environment that encourages even a reluctant reader to read! I’m and English teacher too. Another thing I would add to your list would be to be the example in front of your child. Read often, and especially father figures need to be reading in front of their children. 🙂

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      I love this suggestion. We did do this, but I forgot to put it in. Thanks!

  15. Joanna Stephens on September 17, 2018 at 11:40 am

    My daughter who is almost 3 actually stays up way past bedtime reading! She loves it, and I am happy she has such a love of reading. My little guy who just turned 1 might need a little bit more motivation for reading but I love your tips.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks. I hope you have great readers. I think that is so cute that your 3 yr. old is staying up to read.

  16. Elisha on September 17, 2018 at 10:25 am

    The part where you create a designated space for reading or a reading nook – I’m gonna do that once I have a kid. I love reading and it’s my fervent hope my future children would inherit that trait for me.

    You don’t have any tips though how to make your husband enjoy reading too, would you? lol.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      Ha! I don’t have much hope for the hubby. I guess encourage him to find things he likes?! Good luck!

  17. Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries on September 17, 2018 at 9:49 am

    These are such great ideas. I do most of them already with my daughter and have been doing them since she was an infant! I especially love keeping the holiday books put away until the holidays to make those books a special, seasonal treat!

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      Yes, they are great decor. I love when I put them out; it makes it official.

  18. susie liberatore on September 17, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Love the idea about creating your own book, we love to do this! Also, we love to read aloud it just makes it so much more fun. thanks for the tips.

    • Julie Plagens on September 21, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Sounds like you are creating some great readers Keep it up.

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