10 ways to encourage children to read

10 ways to encourage children to read


Dr. Seuss Reading quoteMy ten year old spent a lot of the summer trying to wind me up.  It is something that ten year old’s are extremely good at.  One of his wind up missiles of choice was to taunt me about how much he ‘hated’ reading.  He knows how strongly I feel about books and reading, you only have to stroll around our house and see the many, many books that are in every room to see that reading is an important thing in this house.  So the ten year old knew that this was great goading material.

He doesn’t hate reading at all.

I tried not to rise to the bait and to tell him calmly and quietly about the huge benefits of reading.  I reminded him of some of his favourite books of recent years.  Told him how reading would inspire his imagination, open his eyes to new worlds and ideas.  How it would help him improve his written work and not just in literacy but also in so many other subjects.  I reminded him that without many of the great stories written over the years, many of the films he loves to watch wouldn’t have existed.

Then the teenager got his A Level results and he had achieved an A* in English.  The teen is an avid reader and always has been.  He went through a wobbly stage around the age of nine and then Harry Potter came to the rescue and he never ever looked back.  He has read thousands of books and I have no doubt that this has made a huge contribution to his final exam grade and his own brilliant writing ability.

This gave the ten year old something to think about.  I researched some good books for boys of that age and decided that The Hunger Games trilogy might be the set of books that we needed.  It was.  He has been reading a lot over the last week and is excitedly telling me bits about the story and actually spent one afternoon last week completely engrossed in the story.  I am thrilled and I know that his new school also spend a lot of time encouraging their pupils to read, so I hope that he is back on the right track.

Reading is a vital skill and yet I was shocked to read that in the UK 130, 000 children leave primary education each year, not being able to read as well as they should and 40% of those are children from poorer backgrounds.  If this continues that will mean that over the next decade over 1.5 million children will be starting secondary school already behind and according to Save the Children, this will have dismal consequences for not only their futures but it will also impact negatively on the UK’s future economy too.  In order to improve these awful statistics, Save the Children have launched the Read On Get On campaign, which is a national mission to get all children reading confidently by the time they are 11. They are calling on everyone to help with this campaign and you can sign their petition and see how you can help on their website.

Save the Children Read On Get On


As reading is something I feel so strongly about and to support Save the Children’s worthy campaign, I decided to put together my top ten ideas to encourage children to read;

1.Be a reader

Set the best example and show them that you are a reader.  We are the biggest influence in our children’s lives and we are their role models even if we don’t always realise it.  It is all to easy not to read as life gets in the way and we are often too busy or turn to our electronic devices far too often.  We need to show them how important reading is whether that is through reading books, newspapers, magazines, it doesn’t matter as long as we are reading.  If you are not an avid reader, newspapers and magazines can offer great opportunities to have a shared reading experience; talk to them about the stories you are reading, show them the articles and pictures.

2.  Have books everywhere

It is important that you have books or other reading materials all around the house; the bedrooms, the living room, the kitchen and yes even the toilet if you like.  If children are used to seeing books around the house, they are more likely to pick one up from a young age and it is forming really good habits.  We have books all around the house and over the years, I have seen the benefits as the children have often sat and looked at a book quite independently while I have been doing something else.  It also gives you the chance to grab a book when they are bored or when you just fancy snuggling up and reading a story together.

3. Reading doesn’t just mean books

I love books and even with the endless possibilities that technology has brought, there is nothing better than curling up with a good book.  This isn’t the case for everyone and some children find reading books a daunting thing.  I blogged a couple of years ago about my now nine year old son and how he struggled reading books.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t read, it was that he didn’t want to. He didn’t enjoy any of the fiction books that were in the reading scheme at his school and it had quite literally put him off reading.  I gave this a lot of thought and decided that his love of sport was the way back into reading and we invested in a few books about sport.  It was amazing to see how much he loved these books.  He particularly loved the ones filled with facts and figures and would spend hours poring over the information and telling us all the interesting bits of information he found.

We also started buying a newspaper from time to time and he would happily sit and read the sport pages.  Sometimes with reluctant readers, you need to find material that would appeal to their interests.  Luckily, with sport there are lots of things that you can use; books, newspapers, magazines and websites with endless reading opportunities.

Two year on and he is an avid reader again.  He still loves his sport books and magazines, but he will loves fiction books and is currently reading Watership Down which was a favourite of mine when I was young.  With him, I have found that he likes a range of books and other reading materials to dip in and out of.

4. Form a reading habit

I have this theory that families who read together, read forever.

our family reading mottoIf you get into  reading habit early, it will stick.  We read to all of our children when they were babies and bedtime stories were a fixed part of the bedtime routine.  It was non-negotiable.  As they grown older, that quiet time before bed with their head in a book or a magazine continues to be a routine and even though the older boys read to themselves, L still likes to be read to at bedtime from time to time or he will read to me, which I love.

5. Embrace the love of technology

As much as I hate to admit it, our children are children of a new technological age where screens have become an essential part of life. Whilst we try and limit the time that the boys spend on a screen, there is also a bonus to technology as it can offer a great reading device too.  L is sport obsessed and if he has access to a screen, his first port of call is the BBC sport website.  At first, I would inwardly groan and sigh, but he is reading.  He loves it.  He will read all of the latest sporting news, often reading bits out to his brother or me.  I didn’t realise it at the time, but it is a positive thing.

There are so many websites for children that offer vast amounts of information and these can come in so many formats such as cartoons or magazine style and it is well worth book-marking a few sites that you think would be good to get your children reading.

Technology really does give us a huge wealth of information to read and although we do have reference books in the house, the boys now see Google as their own personal encyclopaedia and will search for information both for school projects and personal pleasure.  Even a lot of the games that they play on involve a lot of reading which is a positive thing.

6. Consider the benefits of an e-reader

When R was going through his negative phase about reading, we bought him a Kindle.  It was an expensive present, but it was an end of school/good luck with secondary school present and I hoped that it might help in our quest to keep him reading.  It was a good investment.  He loves it.  It is a device of course, but he loves choosing different books and the fact that he can easily look up the meaning of words as he is reading.  It has been really positive.  Some libraries now offer a system to borrow books via an e-reader and with many e-readers on the market at lower prices, this is definitely something I would recommend for a pre-teen or teenager to keep them on track with their reading.  There is also the option to download an e-reader app onto tablets or phones which might be also be another way to get them reading on their own much loved electronic devices.

7. Make time and space for reading

One of my next projects in the house is to find a space to create a reading nook.  When I am whiling away too many hours on Pinterest, I am always fascinated by the reading nooks or corners that people create for their children and I think that it is a wonderful idea.  I have plans to find a corner somewhere quiet in the house where I can put a chair or a bean bag and a small bookcase where any of the children can go and sit and read.  It doesn’t have to cost anything and there really some lovely ideas to make it appealing for younger children too.  If you need some inspiration. check out my Pinterest board as there are some amazing ideas on there.

 Follow Stressy Mummy’s board Places for children to read on Pinterest.

You also need to give children time to read, not to force them to, but to gently encourage them.  Maybe at the weekend, make a regular habit of switching off all devices and having a ‘reading hour’ where everyone has to find something to read, adults included and then take time to talk about what you have read, or read bits to each other.  As I said before, bedtime is reading time in our house and I think it is a great habit for children to get into as it helps them unwind at the end of the day.  I have forced myself to put down my computer and read again before bed and I am really enjoying.

8.  Turn it into a challenge

I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love a good challenge.  So why not turn reading into a challenge?  There are lots of ways of doing this; why not challenge them to read so many books over a period of time, or a series of different types of books to mix things up a bit?  Why not offer a small incentive if they read ten books?  Maybe a reading chart somewhere to track their progress?  My children all did a reading challenge through the local library last summer and it was amazing to see how keen there were to fill up their booklets with stamps, so school holidays are definitely a good time to set reading challenges as not only does it keep them reading and learning, but they are more relaxed and they have more time to pick up  book.

9.  Visit the library

We are regular visitors to our library.  Firstly, libraries have such a great range of children’s books, there is more chance that children will find something new to read as they can sit down and look at the books in a relaxed environment and if they choose something that they don’t like, it is not a problem as you can just take it back.  Libraries have such lovely welcoming children areas that it is hard not to enjoy a trip there.  My children love chilling out on the bean bags with a pile of books and we usually come away with more books than we can physically carry.  Secondly, most libraries offer the most wonderful children’s activities and workshops and as they are often free of charge or very cheap, it is worth going to see what is on offer, particularly for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Buying books is not cheap and so libraries are a must if you want to encourage your children to read without breaking the bank.

10.  Make it fun

The most important thing is that you want your children to have fun.  Reading shouldn’t be a chore, it shouldn’t be something that children dread.  If you have a child that doesn’t like reading, take time to choose books or reading materials based on their interests.  Read to them and with them.  I love nothing more than snuggling up with my children and either reading to them or listening to them read.  There is nothing better.

10 ways to encourage children to read



  1. September 10, 2014 / 7:00 am

    Some great tips. My 7 year old is getting more into reading now, and love the idea of reading nooks/corners! She would love that.
    Mirka Moore @Kahanka recently posted…I miss you Dad!My Profile

  2. September 10, 2014 / 6:19 pm

    Great ideas, but can I borrow your teen to inspire my 11 year old please? We have always read to the kids and read loads ourselves but it is a struggle to get my daughter to read as she’s more into playing games. We now have a 20mins reading before bedtime rule (downstairs on the sofa) but I do feel like I’m forcing her to read which just goes against how I’d like it to be! She even seems to have gone off her favourite Horowitz books 🙁 but I’m hoping it’s just a phase.

    • Nikki Thomas
      September 10, 2014 / 6:23 pm

      Oh you can borrow him any time but he eats a lot. I know what you mean. Have you thought about an ereader? I know it isn’t the cheapest option, but it definitely helped my son. Games are good though too, we play a lot of the old fashioned games like Scrabble and Monopoly which involve words and reading

  3. September 11, 2014 / 8:00 am

    Some great tips here! Reading is definitely about finding what suits the individual – reading can never be boring because there really is something for everyone. My boys have been wobbling a bit too recently, but my younger son has just discovered Percy Jackson and he’s happy again! The Hunger Games sounds like a good suggestion.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Cheltenham half marathon: Loud ‘n’ ProudMy Profile

  4. September 12, 2014 / 9:07 am

    What an excellent post – so many amazing points.
    The Hunger Games helped my then 10 (now 11) year old refind a love of reading too. That and the Spooks series. Very well done to your boy on his amazing A-level result.
    Pinkoddy recently posted…Regent’s Park Play AreaMy Profile

  5. September 12, 2014 / 9:20 am

    I used to get 6 books out of the library ever Saturday morning and get lost in them on the bus ride to and from school. Jacob seems to have inherited some of the book worm in me and it just seems to be a matter of finding the right material. We are currently reading the Dinosaur Cove books and he’s on his 8th complete cycle of listening to the Harry Potter series on audiobook!

  6. September 12, 2014 / 1:45 pm

    Thanks for this! I feel as if learning to read has knocked the wind out of our book loving sails 🙁 But my husband bought some amazing books for both kids over the Summer and they are loving being read to at least! I bought a pile too, and realised how little I had been modelling reading.
    Penny A residence recently posted…A Greek Feast at Corfu ClubMy Profile

  7. September 12, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    Fab ideas – I want a reading nook- well actually I want a library, with leather wingback chairs and an open fire, but a nook is probably more achievable on a budget! My ten year old will only read non-fiction these days, which I think is common among boys his age, perhaps I should try him on The Hunger Games!
    Sonya Cisco recently posted…The Last YearMy Profile

  8. September 12, 2014 / 5:24 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your “places for children to read” ideas. Thanks for that. We tend to read at bedtime, in bed, but so much more fun to mix it up and even build dens etc! Great post x

  9. September 12, 2014 / 7:03 pm

    Some great ideas there. I particularly like the one about being a reader. At my daughter’s school in literacy week they actually invited all parents to come into school for the first half an hour of one day and to just bring with them a book or a newspaper or magazine and just sit in the corner of their kids classroom and read whilst the children did the same – or for the younger ones had a story with their teacher. Just the idea of kids seeing adults sitting and reading was deemed to be so important that the school wanted to make sure it happened, even for those children who might not see their own parents reading at home.
    Penny Carr recently posted…Imaginative play with FafuMy Profile

  10. September 12, 2014 / 7:39 pm

    Oh I like this post! Great and comes at the best of times. My little girl is starting school 🙂 Love that last quote too!
    otilia recently posted…Material worldMy Profile

  11. September 13, 2014 / 7:05 am

    I have that top quote up in my lounge my kids and I are avid readers and your 10 tips are spot on!

  12. September 13, 2014 / 1:51 pm

    We’re massive fans of reading. Amy has well over 200 books and we’re reading several times a day. It’s such a great hobby and a great way to teach them a skill and passion for life x
    Carolin recently posted…How to make the most out of your loft roomMy Profile

  13. September 13, 2014 / 6:28 pm

    I love this. I do really believe that the “be a reader” is the key. Seeing parents curled up with books and having books around the house is crucial.

    Brilliant post

  14. September 13, 2014 / 8:03 pm

    I love that Dr Seuss quote!

    I agree with your tips, especially have lots of books around and be a reader. My mum reading when i was younger always enticed me to read too.
    tired mummy of two recently posted…Winter is coming, are you prepared?My Profile

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