There are books sitting on the shelf, it’s a rainy weekend afternoon, but your child is not diving into a single book. You might be thinking to yourself, “Am I not raising a reader?” Maybe you started reading to your child at a very early age and still have family reading time. While this might have planted the reading seed inside of them, there’s watering that needs to be done in order to help that seed bloom. Here are some steps you can take to change your unmotivated reader’s mindset and encourage them to delve into more books.
Motivate Your Child to Read With These 5 Tips
1) Broaden Opportunities
One of the best ways to motivate your child to read is by broadening their opportunities. Does your child have time to focus on reading? Is your family constantly busy? It’s possible your student isn’t choosing to read because they don’t have time.
Studies have shown that students who spend more time actually engaged in reading are more motivated to do so on a regular basis. This doesn’t just mean offering your student opportunities for educational reading. This means giving your child ample opportunity to leisurely sit down with a book uninterrupted. Set aside a specific amount of time each day that is dedicated to reading. Depending on your child’s age and reading level you can start with as little as five or ten minutes and increase the time as your child progresses. This will help them get used to reading regularly and will reinforce their reading skills.
2) Improve Selection
Motivation is also a matter of selection. Giving your child access to a variety of books is a great way to keep their interest in reading. Whether that means filling up your bookshelf at home or taking regular trips to the library, it is important that your child is not stuck with only a few books to pick from or one type of book.
Not all children will be motivated to read fictional books. See if your child enjoys reading non-fiction books at their reading level. Find a book about their favorite animal or favorite historic figure. Even a small change like giving your child more access to a variety of books can make a huge difference in their motivation.
3) Develop Self-Esteem Through Autonomy
Along with selection comes autonomy, which in turns develops self-esteem. While there might be books that you want your child to read, allowing them to select a few books of their own can renew their interest in reading. Even as adults we are usually more motivated to complete tasks that we want to do rather than things we have to do. Standing in front of a row of books, however, can be overwhelming, so help guide them in the process.
What draws them to a particular book? The description? The illustrations? These conversations will not only strengthen your child’s decision making skills but also your relationship as you learn how they think and what they enjoy. If your child never has the opportunity to pick out books that they are interested in, they’re motivation to continue reading could decline. Give your child the chance to pick out books they find intriguing.
4) Monitor Book Selection
It is also important that you are still monitoring their book selection. Children can make the mistake of selecting books outside of their reading level. These books will discourage your child as they struggle with the material. To combat this issue, designate a shelf to your child with anywhere from 5-20 books on it (fewer books for younger children to avoid decision paralysis). Make sure all of these books are within your child’s reading level, but also not so easy that they’ll get bored. Children experience the most motivation to read when they get to read texts on the upper limits of their reading level. These books challenge readers to advance their reading skills without overwhelming them. Most libraries also have books separated by reading level.
My mom would always designate one shelf that she knew was at my reading level and let me pick any book from it. The possibilities seemed endless and it encouraged me that I was able to read the books I chose. As your child sees their reading skills improving by the books they’re picking out, their motivation to continue reading will grow.
5) Be Mindful of Other Factors
Always keep in mind there may be other factors contributing to your child’s lack of motivation. I was the bookworm in my family, but my siblings were much less motivated to read. Despite our family reading time and practically living at the library, they still rarely read. It wasn’t until my sister was tested that major vision issues were revealed as the culprit behind her unwillingness to read, and my brother’s developmental challenges meant he needed a little more time to reach a comfortable reading level. Once these challenges were addressed, they both became much more avid readers. So if you’ve tried these and other tips and your child is still not wanting to read, start asking them what the words look like when they read or how reading makes them feel. This might reveal underlying issues besides motivation.
The most important thing to remember is to stay positive and always keep a growth mindset with your child. Berating them for not wanting to read will only demotivate them. Make sure to encourage and celebrate even small reading victories. Encouraging their hard work and perseverance will motivate them much more than acknowledging their lack of motivation. In the end, getting them to read even a little will benefit them now and later in life.