3 Great Ways to Encourage Reading

3 Great Ways to Encourage Reading

I’m lucky. I have three kids who love to read (or be read to). Of course a huge part of that is that they live in a house filled with books. (Some people buy designer shoes, I buy beautifully bound paper.) I also like to think it’s because they see Lenny and me doing our fair share of reading (he gobbles up news articles on his iPhone, my bedside table is overflowing with must-read paperbacks). I realize that right now, there aren’t many demands on their time, so reading is a natural activity in their days. But it’s important to me that their passion for reading grows as they do, even as they become involved in more and more activities.

Thanks to Common Sense Media and some outrageously smart friends, I have a few ideas for how to encourage your kids to keep at it, and have a lot of fun along the way.

#1- Start a Book Club

I love that Big’s old enough to read on his own (and actually prefers to), but I miss the connectedness that comes with sharing bedtime stories. Our friend recently told us about a clever thing he was doing to re-engage with his son over books. He invited his 3rd grader to join him in a father-son book club. They picked out a book together (Turtle in Paradise), and each read it on their own. As they progressed through the book, they discussed the story, then, at the end, had a more official book club meeting. And, in their case, a vacationing grandmother took the book along and read it so she could engage in the conversation, as well.

This month Lenny and Big are joining them. They’ve picked The Indian in the Cupboard (which happened to be a favorite of mine growing up), and, after discussing the book, they’re going to watch the movie together at their meeting in July.

#2- Check out Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media recently revealed that reading rates are dropping among adolescents (among other interesting insights). As Big races far too quickly toward that intimidating word, I’m going to do my best to encourage him to keep up his great habits.

This Common Sense Media article includes a list of what we, as parents, can do to help our kids read more. One of the tips is “Discover Pockets of Reading”. Some kids don’t sit and read for hours, but an article online or in a magazine might really spark their interest. Those absolutely count, and add up quickly! I can tell you that, in our house, Sports Illustrated Kids gets read cover to cover — multiple times — each month.

And take note of their Essential Books guide, too. I can’t wait to get our hands on some of these suggestions. (Now, if I could just remember to use our library card as much as our credit card…)

#3- Get Your Reader Engaged with Peers Online

These two COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)-compliant sites encourage kids to share their personal reviews of books in a safe, positive environment. I love that these sites allow for self-expression and peer engagement, while celebrating a love of reading.

Bookopolis – Create virtual bookshelves of books they’ve read or want to read; Rate, review, and complete book reports; Connect with friends to give and get book recommendations; Earn points and badges for their actions in Bookopolis.

KidzVuz – Kids (ages 7-12) create and post their own video reviews, rate products, answer surveys, and earn points toward cool badges.

What do you do to encourage reading in your home? Do your children have favorite books and/or series?


This post was inspired by Common Sense Media’s recent article: 4 Surprising Findings About Kids’ and Teens’ Reading, Plus What You Can Do To Help Kids Read More. As a Common Sense Media Learn ON Ambassador, I’m honored that I get the chance to share Common Sense Media’s great work. This non-partisan, not-for-profit company is helping parents everywhere navigate the new digital landscape, and even the most tech-savvy people I know turn to them for help. I hope you will too.

Disclosure: I am not compensated for my work as a Learn ON Ambassador, and all opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.



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  1. says

    T is a big ‘Olivia’ fan, I am too. We all LOVE Oliver Jeffers and Peter Brown’s books, so funny, great illustrations. Kevin Henkes, old school Golden Books and the Miroslav Sasek “This is….” (i.e. Paris, San Francisco, etc) country books. Of course, leave it to the librarian to jump on here quick! :-)

  2. says

    My kids love to read, too, and my oldest can read to himself now (he is very silent in the car these days because he always travels with a book!). Our local library does a summer reading challenges where kids will get a free book or two for doing a reading log. It’s a great way to encourage reading and provide a sense of working toward a goal.

    My younger son is very into the “Pete the Cat” books. He also loves anything by Todd Parr, especially “Underwear Dos and Don’ts.” (He’s such a boy!).

    Thanks for reminding me about “Indian in the Cupboard.” I haven’t thought of that book in years.

  3. Big Bill says

    We read to our 8 &10 year old sons every night. It’s a great opportunity to share books that are above their current reading level, so they can expand their vocabulary and reasoning. I, personally, like to improvise and make up new passages occasionally to help the boys spot style differences and when people are creating and not relaying. Great fun!

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