5 Effective Tips to Help Kids Read More

“How can I get my child to read more?”

This is probably the number question a parent asks me, if their child is seven or eleven.

There is plenty of research to support the positive effects of reading, so it’s no wonder that parents are concerned about their child’s reading time. With video games and other screen activities captivating readers of all ages, getting kids to read more has become increasingly harder.

Every reader is different. What works for one child may not work for his or her sibling. Some kids just need to find that one book that makes them fall in love with reading (see my post  7 Books That Turn Tweens into Readers) But, I have found that the best way to get a kid reading is to find the perfect texts. Why? If a reader can find texts that they find interesting and engaging, he or she is more likely to want to read more texts. Below are some of my personal approaches to matching texts to readers.

  1. There are different ways to read. In my personal experience as an English teacher and Reading Specialist, this seems to be the trick that gets my students reading more. It is still reading if a student listens to an audiobook or a read aloud. Apps, like Audible, are amazing because they allow readers to listen anywhere at any time on their mobile devices. I would suggest having a reader listen to a book they’ve already read before so they can get used to listening to a text if they are new to audiobooks. Some students also prefer to read along with an audiobook so that can always be added to the mix. Read alouds can be done by anyone in the family at any time. While driving on vacation, after dinner around the kitchen table, or ten minutes before bed every night, whatever works best for the reader and the family.
  2. Movie/video game books. I see this more with kiddos in grades 4-6 who are in between the easy chapter books and middle school books. A few years ago, Minecraft books were super popular among this age group. Video game and movie companies often times put out a line of guide/companion books, spin off stories and more to get the attention of young readers. Some popular ones right now are Lego, Fortnite, and Animal Crossing.
  3. Find out what’s popular. Sometimes kids like to be surprised with a recommendation. Knowing what other kids are reading can be very powerful, so spend some time doing a little bit of research. The majority of this research can be done online with Facebook groups, Google lists, blogs, etc. However, if you’re like me and LOVE going to the library, check in with the children’s librarian. I’m blessed to say that my children’s librarian is an incredible woman who has been my go-to since I was in college. These book lovers have immense knowledge about genres, authors and specific titles for literally every type of reader.
  4. Ask them! One of my favorite things to do with kids is to talk about books. When that dialogue is opened about books, themes, topics, etc., it’s amazing what kids will say. There’s nothing wrong with sitting down and having an honest and open conversation with your reader about reading. Don’t be afraid to ask your child why they don’t like to read, or what they need to read more. Keep those conversations about books going because it will encourage kids to read more. During these chats, ask your child what he or she wants to read. It’s super important to note that reader choice is HUGE in helping kids develop reading habits. Give your child options during these talks and ultimately let them choose.
  5. Set an example. I grew up with my mom reading magazines. Literally she always had one ready to go (and a massive stack next to her bed). Kids mimic their parents constantly, so if you want your child to read more set an example. Instead of scrolling on your phone at night while sitting in the living room, pick up a book or an e-reader. If you want your kids to talk to you about books, start the conversations. It’s okay to  say, “I read this article about….”. It may not happen overnight, but you will see kids mirroring these reading behaviors.

 

Little Reading Coach is a certified Teacher of English (K-12) and Reading Specialist (P-12) offering online reading and writing tutoring services for students in grades 3-12. For more information click here.

How to Save Money on Books

I go through books like water. It’s a good problem to have at times, but it can be a very expensive habit.

When I got my iPad back in 2012, I started reading ebooks through iBooks. Then I made the transition to a Kindle and have continued my ebook ways. Don’t get me wrong, I still love physical books and going to bookstores, but sometimes I don’t have the patience to wait to go to a store.

Over the years I’ve come up with ways not to pay full price for books, expect for ones that are must haves.

1. School Libraries. One of the benefits of being a teacher is working in a building with a library. I’ve always worked with media specialists in the buildings I’ve worked in, so I tend to spend a lot of time surrounded by books. This was not only convenient but kept me up to date on the latest YA materials.

2. Public libraries. I volunteer once a month at my local library, so it helps me keep to a library routine (which can be hard when you’re working and mommying). I’m also friends with the children’s librarian and she keeps me in the loop on new releases. Plus, if a book I want is in another library in the network, she can borrow the book from the other library. Libraries have now also started loaning ebooks. I have to admit that I have yet to try this feature. AND libraries will often have book sales or even free books to make way for new ones. I happened to pick up two Dear America’s the last time I was at the library for free.

3. Thrift stores. My sister is very into thrifting and it’s amazing what you treasures you can find. Books usually start at around $1.00 depending on the book. You can walk out with a bag of books for the price of a new hardcover.

4. Garage sales. Similar to thrifting, garage sale hopping is also a great way to find cheap books. They may be a little bit older if it’s a family cleaning out their teenager’s bookshelves, but there are generally some classics you can find.

5. Kindle Unlimited. This has been a lifesaver for me, especially when doing book reviews. For $10 a month I have access to thousands of texts and they are always adding new books. Not gonna lie, I absolutely love that I can read Harry Potter whenever I want with my subscription. I’ve also used KU during tutoring sessions a few times, so it has definitely paid off for me.

What’s in Molly’s Home Library?

Last weekend I was watching Molly play with her Disney princess dolls and her dollhouse. She’s at the age where she is starting to create stories with her toys, which is amazing to watch. She’s even becoming more independent with her reading skills. She still asks for me to read to her, but she is starting to “read” to herself more often.

I realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve shared what’s in Molly’s home library. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on Literacy in the First Year and Toddler Literacy, where I shared some fabulous Usborne Books.

Today I want to take you on a little tour of Molly’s home library.

I wanted to get a head start on her home library from the very beginning, so I had guests at my baby shower give me a book instead of a card. I am so incredibly grateful for all of the amazing texts that I got because it really created a great foundation.

As Molly has gotten older, family and friends continue to give her books, allowing us to expand her library. She also has mini libraries at both of her grandparents’ homes, and I’m pretty sure she has one in the car as well.

It’s crazy to think that Miss Molly is going to be three very soon. She has been in daycare for about two years, and I try to reinforce the skills she learns at school at home with specific books.

Vocabulary BooksRight now, we’re working on her vocabulary with opposites, colors, and shapes. Here are some of the books we’re using at home. Molly enjoys lifting the flaps and looking at the pictures. She will also point to all of the objects she knows on pages, and will guess at ones she isn’t sure of. I am a little bias and prefer Usborne books for teaching early learning skills. 

 

Molly is also a fan of singing. She loves the ABCs, “Bumble Bee” and “Row Row Row

Rhyming BooksYour Boat”. While we watch Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, she will sing along with the movies. We continue to use nursery rhymes at home using a few different books. All of these books were given to me at my baby shower.

Miss Molly has always loved listening to music, and when we first introduced her to noisy books she was excited.

Noisy Books

As she has gotten older, we have branched out to incorporate more books based on her interests (or current favorite TV show/movie). She has a habit of playing her favorite sounds over and over, that don’t align to the story.

As a teacher, I like to read Molly certain books to reflect the time of year, especially holidays. I like to give Molly a book for every

Holiday Stories

holiday, as do family members. We tend to read the same stories over and over again from this pile. Hug Day, is the biggest hit because Molly has an obsession with trolls. She also likes Pooh’s Halloween Pumpkin because she can carry it around by the string.

Regardless of how many new books she gets, there are always a few that will always be here favorite. Some of them are really obvious based on the teeth marks (Belly Button Book has been #1 since the beginning). Molly loves Pookie because

Molly's Favorite Books

she likes to say the name, and has even named one of her stuffed animals Pookie. Sandra Boynton is one of the most popular authors in our house. Potty Fairy Princess has always been one of her favorites, but now it’s even more popular because she’s starting to use the potty.

Just like Molly has her favorite books, Mommy also has her favorites. I Wish You More was the first book I bought Molly at the Scholastic book fair at my school when I was pregnant. I wanted theMommy's Favorite Books first book I bought her to be meaningful and special and this was was absolutely perfect. As a kid, I LOVED Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (I have the whole TV show on DVD for Molly when she’s ready) so of course this one will always have a special place on her bookshelf. This one was given to me at my baby shower from my mom, which makes it even more precious. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney is my absolute favorite book to read aloud because I like saying Llama Llama. It’s a bonus that Molly also loves these books, especially the illustrations. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch made me cry the first time I read it to Molly the night before I started working again. This one has more sentimental value to me.

I am no longer a consultant with Usborne Books & More, but you can order the fabulous titles in this post from my amazing book friend here.

Summer Reading Challenges

As a kid, one of my favorite aspects of summer vacation was all the reading time. Even better was when I had a goal I was trying to reach. My town had a Read-a-Thon for each grade in elementary school and I wanted to win a medal sooooo badly. Prizes were determined based on how many pages students read during the summer, so I took my reading extremely seriously. I never won my medal (although I can still tell you who did) but that incentive gave me an extra boost to read.

If you’re looking for ways to motivate kids to read, check out some of the ideas below.

Summer reading programs at your local/school library– I volunteer at my local library once a month, and it is covered with summer reading ideas for kids. There are workshops, activities, and a summer reading club. There are also story times, BYOB (bring your own book) events and mommy and me reading times.

Barnes and Nobles Book Challenge– Barnes and Nobles is holding a summer reading challenge for kids where they can earn a free book! Kids fill out a reading journal and once they have read 8 books they are eligible for a free book based on their grade. For more details, click here.

Scholastic Read-A-Palooza– This is a totally awesome challenge. According to Scholstic, “Over the course of 18 weeks, kids can enter their summer reading minutes online, unlocking digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges; and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content.” But wait, it gets even better!! When kids collectively reach certain reading minute milestones, Scholastic, in collaboration with United Way, will donate books to kids in need across the US!! To sign up to be part of this AMAZING challenge, click here.

Brightly Reading Challenge- I’m a Brightly fan (check out my ideas on using Mad Libs here). This year they have separate reading challenges for preschoolers- teens. I love that they give kids different reading ideas that are age appropriate. They also provide paths to additional reading lists. To see these ideas, click here.