The importance of reading for children is not a secret; Google “why is reading important for kids” and you’ll find pages upon pages of articles on the numerous benefits of kids who read a lot. There are countless benefits to reading, including improvement of language, better communication skills, improves vocabulary, helps develop a child’s imagination and opens a whole new world around them.

Epic Charter Info Mtg Aug 25

Many of my childhood memories are of me hiding under my covers with a flashlight well after my bedtime to finish just one more chapter (sorry, mom) of the latest tome I’d discovered at the school’s meager library. When I ran out of books that interested me at the library, I found a local bookstore where I struck up a deal with the owner to let me help her shelve books in exchange for endless supplies of novels. As an adult, my love of reading has created storage boxes full of beloved books, an overflowing nightstand of to-be-reads and now, a phone crammed full of audiobooks for the long commutes to and from work.

As an English Language Learner, I credit reading (and hours of diagramming sentences) to my quick mastery of a new language. Reading voraciously has served to expand my vocabulary and sentence structure which helped me in previous careers as a writer and a magazine editor.

But what if your child hates to read?

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Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for a child to dislike reading for a multitude of reasons, but there are some intentional things you can do as a parent to help foster a love a reading and books in your children no matter their age, ability, and interests. As a parent, I’ve worked hard to develop my daughter into an avid reader and here are five things I’ve done to cultivate her love of reading.

1. Set An Example

Monkey see, monkey do, as the old saying goes. At a young age, your child wants to emulate everything you do and if they see you reading, they will want to read too. Instead of turning on the television, turn to the bookshelf and grab a great book to enjoy. Before you know it, your little one will be crawling into your lap to do the same.

[Books my toddler loved: Any board book by Sandra Boynton]

2. Read Aloud

When did you stop reading bedtime stories to your kids? At 4 years old? 6 years old? 8 years old? When they are babies, we tend to read to our kids all the time, but when they get older and can read themselves, many parents stop this wonderful practice. Even though my daughter is in junior high, we still make the time to read together, choosing books we can learn from, read to each other, and discuss.

[Currently Reading Aloud, Success Principles For Teens by Jack Canfield]

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3. Listen To Audiobooks

Even at 12-years-old, my seventh grader has to listen to audiobooks at bedtime. She rotates between her childhood favorites – Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books by her current favorite author, Rick Riordan (The Percy Jackson series among others). In fact, it’s a punishment if we don’t allow her to listen while she falls asleep.

In the car, we listen to all kinds of podcasts and audiobooks and have for many years. For those children that may struggle with reading or don’t know how to read yet, an audiobook is a great option because our brains love stories. Kids are more apt to remember a story than a list of facts anyhow. So make that drive time useful, educational, and fun with a good book to listen to.

[We currently just finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, borrowed from our local library’s digital collection]

4. Frequent Library Visits

Speaking of the library, if you don’t have a card to your local library, stop right now and go get one. It’s the best community resource and it’s free! The library has a TON of programs for all ages – from story time for the little ones to homework help and tutoring for older kids and, of course, countless treasures encased in the aisles of books. Now, libraries even have digital collections where you can borrow audio books as well as books in a digital format for your Kindle.

When my daughter was younger, we would go every Thursday morning to story hour, up until she was too old to do so. As a homeschooling parent, it was one way to get the ever important socialization component in.

[Last library book borrowed: My Year Of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman]

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5. Buy Books Often

It’s hard to deny my daughter’s constant request to buy new books, but it can be expensive to do so. Book lovers are familiar with the rush of excitement that comes with holding a brand new book in your hands, flipping through the pages, anticipation awaiting. Go to the bookstore often and join a reading challenge (like this EPIC one here) to encourage a love for books.

To save on some of the costs of books, we frequent many local used bookstores, look for treasures at the library used book section, scour garage sales, and browse the selection of books at stores like Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Amazon Prime has also paid for itself 10x over from all the books we’ve purchased and received with their free two-day shipping.

[Last book purchased: Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and The Gods Of Asgard]

Conclusion

I’ve caught my middle school daughter a few times hiding under her blanket after lights out begging me to let her finish just one more chapter and it’s hard to get mad at her; after all, it’s kind of my fault for passing on my love of books to her.

What are some ways you cultivate your children’s love of reading? Comment below.