I still remember the day I finished a chapter book in one day. The book was from the Nancy Drew series and I was very proud of my accomplishment. Getting a library card for me was a very special experience. My dad took me and helped me pick out my first library book. It was "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." I love that book to this day, and I still love reading it.
Not every child loves reading, or even has a fond memory of a book, but studies have shown that children who read are more likely to have a bigger vocabulary, greater emotional intelligence and increased problem solving skills.
If you child dislikes reading, here are 7 ways to get them excited to read:
Have books around the house
This may seem simple enough, but it is a great way to intrigue your children. My house had more bookshelves than we really had room for and all six of my siblings love reading. We would pass by books every day and one might capture our attention. It's like watching an ad for a new TV show - the first time you are not interested, but eventually you get curious enough to at least look it up.
Children will react in a similar way to books. Their interest will be peaked and they will start reading.
Read out loud
Read books to your children, even when they are young. Often times children will imitate what you do. I could read just fine when my Dad started reading Harry Potter out loud to me. Soon I was intrigued by other fantasy books and I stopped just reading mysteries and expanded into a different genre.
Read around children
When children see that you make time to read, they will make time to read. If you never used your phone while you were waiting at the doctor's office and instead read books, your children would think reading books was a normal past time they should try themselves. When they see you smile as you read or frequent the library they will be curious as to why you are reading what you are. Encourage this curiosity.
Talk about books
I had a cousin who was at the same reading level as me. We would read the same books and then spend hours talking about them, especially if we were waiting for the next book in the series. When you encourage your children to talk about what they are reading, show them how exciting books can be.
Find the perfect book or genre
Pick books that interest your children. If they like the superheroes, get them books about superheroes. If they like fairy tales get them books about fairy tales. I remember being fascinated with horses and I wanted one to live in my backyard. My mom told me to go find a book about taking care of horses and then we would talk. When I brought home a very large book about horses from the school library, it didn't take long for me to understand that a horse couldn't live in our backyard.
When you find books that fit your child's interest they will be more willing to branch out and discover books themselves.
Use the library
The library can become an exciting place for your child. Most libraries have book programs, so take advantage of them. Letting your child search through the bookshelves for a perfect book will become exciting. My dad would often take me to the library so I could get as many books as I wanted. I often left with more books than I could carry. I was more than willing to sit down and just read in one of the library's chairs.
Avoid the reward system
Forcing a child to read by withholding candy or encouraging a child to read by promising candy will not always work out in your favor. Instead of enjoying the book, your child might be focusing more on the reward you offered them. Think about books you were required to read for school - was it an enjoyable experience? Or did you feel like you just had to get it done for your reward (your grade)?
Some people will just naturally love reading, but you can foster an appreciation and love of reading in your children.