10 Reading tips for kids

kids reading in kids library

We get it. For some kids, reading can be a chore. The whole world is waiting out there for kids to explore. Or, there’s a whole fantastical world inside that new Xbox game that must be conquered! Parents ought to be vigilant, though, so that reading reluctance doesn’t morph into reading avoidance. Here are some tips that might help you get your kid psyched to read.

1. Show the way.

They may not be willing to admit it, but chances are good that your kid wants to be just like you.  So, if you want your kid to read more, let them see you reading. You probably have an organized list messy pile of books you’re intending to read, but those good intentions don’t always translate into reality. Show your kids that being a reader is a trait to imitate. Peruse the catalog to check out your own bundle of great books, then endorse the motto, “Do as I say and as I do.”

2. Read, then watch. Or watch, then read.

Kids love movies, and movies based on books (or books based on movies) can be an easy way to get your kids interested in reading. Reading a book aloud before watching the movie together can be a fun family activity, especially on those days when it’s just too hot to spend much time outdoors.  It’s also okay to watch the movie first, then read the book.  My 6-year-old listened all the way through Alice in Wonderland precisely because she enjoyed Tim Burton’s rendition so much.  Otherwise, that story would have likely been put away until she (and her attention span) grew a bit more.

There are lots of kids books based on popular TV shows as well. Whether you kid is into Martha Speaks or Shake It Up!, you could be in for a pleasant surprise when you find an engaging and entertaining book that helps your child want to read!  They may not all be time-honored classics like Charlotte’s Web or Old Yeller, but any book that keeps reading fun will help your kiddo build reading skills, and when they like to read and want to read, that’s worth a lot!

Check out books based on TV shows

for younger kids

for older kids

3. Suds up with a good book.

At my house, combining bathtime with storytime has proven a helpful tool in keeping the bedtime routine from dragging on and on. Read on for some of our favorite bathtime stories.

Check out great bath time books

4. You’re never too old for picture books.

One major milestone in your child’s growth as a reader is when they are finally ready for chapter books.  Kids are excited to be reading “big kid” books, and it’s exciting for parents to see their kids start to enjoy longer, more complex books. As important as this milestone is, sometimes kids get the idea that they’re too old to keep reading picture books.  But there are lots of good reasons to keep reading picture books, and lots of great picture books have been written with older readers in mind.

Check out picture books for older kids

5. Go book-wild with animal books.

Does your kid love animals?  If so, then you have an easy way to hook your kids on books.  Fiction and nonfiction books about animals abound; we have plenty to offer to your future veterinarian. Check the events calendar for Amazing Animals and READ Dog events so you can combine animals with a trip to the library.

Check out animal books for kids

6. Try audiobooks.

The library offers several convenient ways to bring audiobooks to your family:

  • CDs–  If your car comes equipped with a CD player, this is probably the easiest way to listen together in the car. We have hundreds of titles to choose from.
  •  Playaways–  All you need is a pair of headphones to plug into this convenient, lightweight, pre-loaded MP3 player.  The controls are intuitive to kids who have been raised in the digital age- my child could navigate a Playaway on her own at age 4 with just a few basic instructions.  She loved being able to wander around the house while she listened to a book rather than sitting in one place.
  • Read-alongs –  These picture books with a CD tucked into the back pocket are perfect for kids just learning to read.
  • Playaway Bookpacks–  A special kid-friendly playaway with fewer buttons as well as several read-along picture books are conveniently packaged into one item for easy check-out.
  • Digital audiobooks – The library offers two free digital libraries full of audiobooks at OverDrive and Hoopla, with user-friendly apps for your smartphone or tablet.
  • On the web –  Visit BookflixStoryline Online, or Tumblebooks.  Your elementary-aged child has probably used one or all of these before at school, so take a backseat and let them teach you how!

7. Car time = book time.

In our family, some of the library books never seem to make it out of the car.  After a library or bookmobile visit, it just makes sense to let my kid dive right in, while the excitement of a new book is still fresh.  We especially enjoy read-alongs for the car, which let my early reader follow along in the story with a signal for every page turn.

I also keep a kids book loaded onto my smartphone using the OverDrive app, so we always have something available to listen to together.  A recent favorite of ours was Arthur’s Audio Collection, with six short stories just the right length for a trip across town.  On a longer trip, having books and audiobooks available is a requirement for a peaceful ride!

8. Think unconventionally.

When we think about reading, chances are we automatically think about books.  It’s only natural to associate books and reading. But there are lots of other great ways to trick your kids into reading encourage your kids to read.

  • Board Games/Card Games. Games are an easy way to motivate a reluctant reader.
  • Online Reading. The now-famous Diary of a Wimpy Kid was originally published in serial form on the web and the first novel can still be read online.
  • Cookbooks. Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy browsing cookbooks to drool over all those delicious recipes? But you may not have realized cookbooks are technical texts which expose kids to vocabulary they might not encounter elsewhere. Bonus: Besides the obvious outcome of something delicious to eat, completing the recipes helps kids work on their math skills.
  • Gardening. Digging in the dirt? Yes, please. Have your kids read the information of the back of the seed packets and help make row markers for a fun and easy literacy activity.

9. Let your kid pick.

There are certain books we simply cannot keep on the shelves because kids devour these books. Occasionally I hear a well-meaning adult try to steer a kid away from one of these “frivolous” reading selections, but I’d like to make a case for letting your kid read what they want.  Remember, when reading is fun, your kids will want to read more, and when your kids read more, they get better at reading and learning!

10. Encourage comics and “search & find” books.

Comic books build visual literacy, require kids to make inferences, expose them to a variety of art styles and increase their vocabularies. Hybrid novels such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries combine visual elements of comic books and graphic novels with more traditional text-based storytelling to create books kids want to read.  Again, kids build the same important reading skills with hybrid novels as they do with traditional novels.

When kids read “Search & Find” books like I Spy and Where’s Waldothey’re working on important study skills in a fun, painless way.

What other tips do you have to keep kids reading? Tell us in the comments.

Natalie Moreland

Natalie works in the Kids Library and has a background in teaching. She delights in spreading bookjoy to people of all ages. She also takes interest in cycling, creating art, social justice, raising small livestock, and making music.