Reading is a skill that doesn’t come easily to everyone. The beautiful thing about books is that if you find your child is not engaging with a certain book, there are a myriad of options to get their attention. I say reading is a skill, and it is, but it doesn’t have to feel like an exertion- the great thing about reading is that you can trick kids into exercising this skill because it’s also a fun activity! I think the trick is recognizing that not every child is going to love the books put in front of them by teachers, and to allow them to explore reading on their own terms.
One way to encourage a child to read is to simply take them to a bookstore and allow them to pick out whatever book they want. By doing this you allow the child agency in their reading at home and it gives you an idea of what your child gravitates towards for entertainment and learning. And please remember, comic books count.
Another way to encourage a child to read is to have them read simple and small things in your everyday errands or actions. Words are everywhere and children are naturally inquisitive so you can ask them what a certain sign or store name might be during a walk, or to read a poster on the subway. Words surround us everywhere and children are eager to absorb the world around them.
You can also tie reading to another one of the child’s passions. If your child likes to draw have them draw a picture of what they just read, if they like Legos, have them build a set representing what they just read.
I recommend asking questions about whatever was just read, like the details or plot. By showing an interest in the book yourself your child will take that as a positive sign that they’re doing something well received. Expanding on this line of thinking, also ask questions about what the child may have learned in their reading, how they relate to a certain character, or if they feel any personal life moment might parallel what they just read. By asking these substantive questions children will begin to connect the dots between their lives and the potential books have in influencing them and teaching them real life lessons. This real life to fiction connection can encourage more enthusiasm.
Finally, you can just sit down and speak with your child if you find they’re truly not engaging with an type of literature. Sometimes a simple and kind discussion can lead you to understanding the root cause in case there’s a block that is causing the child to dislike books or reading.
I think the takeaway here is to recognize that reading is a life skills that can elevate a person’s enjoyment of life. By embracing this fact and allowing your child to explore their reading ability through other facets of life and how pertinent it is to how we move through life, they will develop a love or appreciation for books.
Feel free to leave recommendations for young readers in the comments!