How to Encourage a Love of Reading

Reading for pleasure is fun and relaxing, but it also has benefits that go far beyond the academic.

Children who read for fun not only improve at reading, they get better in all subjects. Reading for pleasure also increases empathy and social skills. Plus, it stimulates creativity and imagination.

You know reading for fun is important, but not all kids enjoy it. How can you make it fun and engaging for them?

Tap into a child’s personal interests to develop a love of reading

Does your child love basketball? Pick books with characters who play!

What is your child interested in?  Cooking? Bugs? Basketball?

Come up with a cooking project and read through recipe ideas together. Try a nonfiction book about different kinds of bugs in a garden! Find a biography of an iconic player.

Get creative!

Another good way to find books is to figure out their preferred genre. Ask them what movies or TV shows they like. If they’re into adventure, mystery, or science, find books that reflect those interests. If they have favorite characters, search out books that feature them.

Engage children with resources and nontraditional books

Healthy reading habits don’t just involve classic books.

Graphic novels, for example, have less text than conventional books. This can make them less overwhelming, especially for those who aren’t strong readers.

Inclusive, diverse books make a difference.Children can also become more engaged with a book if it features a character like them. Maybe the main character is their same age or has freckles just like them. Or perhaps the hero has their same color skin or is from a neighborhood like theirs.

For recommendations, check out our Stories for All Project™, which has books with diverse characters, stories, and images that reflect the lives of kids from all backgrounds.

To date, this collection includes more than 2,000 titles and has influenced publisher decisions in making new, bilingual titles available.

Audio books are another great way to interest children. They give access to more books and support those who may not be able to read independently.

Reading along with audio books helps kids with vocabulary and gives them a multi-sensory experience when paired with a print book.

How to encourage children to read for fun

Jump on trends! Provide kids with popular books. You can do the same with book verisions of new movies.

Create a reading culture by having books readily available and by spending more time at the library.

Pick humorous books. Everyone loves to laugh! And it gives struggling readers a fun way to practice.

Choose books in a series. When kids get hooked on the story, they’ll keep reading to find out what happens next.

Brian Smith, an educator in our First Book Network, used the “Lunch Lady” series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka to engage his students. Even his reluctant readers loved reading the humorous graphic novel series. Once they completed the series, he introduced them to something similar while their interest was piqued.

And lastly, read your own book. If kids see you reading books for fun, they’re more likely to do the same. Plus, it means you get to read for fun too!

If you’re looking for more book recommendations for kids, be sure to peruse our pleasure reading list.