10 Tips to Engage Reluctant Readers

by: Lindsay Hutton
According to the U.S Department of Education, a child's interest in reading for fun diminishes after the age of 3. Lack of interest, reading difficulties, and a fear of being made fun for what they read are all reasons why your child might be hesitant to pick up a book. Use these tips and ideas to help spark your child's interest in reading, and find out how to choose the right books in order to get the pages turning.
Close up of child's food while reading
Find Material that Excites Him
It sounds obvious, but children (especially boys) are more likely to read when they find stories about things they find fascinating, like Harry Potter, or relatable, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Stories that transport readers to another time and place they could only visit in their imaginations are also great options: The Steampunk Riders find adventures in the Wild West and the crew of Galactic Hot Dogs makes mischief in outer space.

For more ideas, Guysread.com is an excellent resource to find books on subjects that have captured the interest of boys, including a featured "Book of the Month," and a library containing multi-volume short stories and illustrations.

Little boy relaxing in bed reading.
Explore Different Formats and Genres
With today's technology, there is a plethora of reading material available, both online and in book form, so think outside the box when considering what your child might enjoy. Joke books, seek-and-find books, mystery, science fiction, comics, graphic novels, and nonfiction about typical kid-favorite topics (think: dinosaurs) are all great places to start. Make sure they are age-appropriate and the right reading level so your child doesn't become frustrated or bored.
Father reading book to his children
Set a Good Example
Parents lead by example. If your child never sees you reading, he's not likely to pick up a book on his own either. Make time in your day to read and talk to your child about something you're reading that you enjoy. Even if you don't have a lot of time to spare, these 15-minute reading activities are quick and fun ways to incorporate reading into your daily schedule.
Young girl laying on sofa reading book
Designate a "Reading Nook"
Set up a special place in a quiet area for your child as "her" reading space. Make it cozy with pillows and blankets, and stock it with books on subjects and activities that interest her. Having her own space to go and read will make it seem special and will likely encourage her to do more of it.
Mother and daughter following a recipe and making a pie
Pair Reading with Play
Fun activities that require reading, such as making a new recipe, creating a scavenger hunt, putting on a play, or making your own holiday cards to send to family and friends, help show your child that reading isn't just about sitting down with a book. Engaging him in non-book activities will help him realize that it relates to a lot of things that he finds enjoyable, and isn't just a chore.
Happy family sitting on couch watching movie
Read Books that Have Been Made Into Movies
Seeing a book come to life on screen is a fun way to motivate your child to read. Start off by reading one of these kids' books that have been turned into movies together, and watch the screen adaptation when you're finished. Talk about the plots, characters, and story lines, and ask your child to describe the differences between the book and the movie. Talking about the characters, and how they measured up on screen versus how she imagined them in print, will get her excited to read more.
Two friend reading a book in library
Read in Public
Listening to a book is just as good as reading! Show your child that a lot of people, kids and adults alike, enjoy books by going to your library's story-hour or a book reading. Community plays are another good activity — attending one can help your child realize that literature doesn't just come in book form, but can be acted out as well. Additionally, if a kid-favorite author is coming to town for a book signing, take her to meet the author and treat her to a newly signed copy.
Two boys reading from a tablet
Be Tech-Friendly
Nothing beats reading a real book, but you can also use technology to your advantage. Use the internet to explore kid-friendly eBooks on topics that interest your child. Amazon.com offers a list of current bestselling children's books, and Author Marketing Club monitors Amazon and keeps a daily list of free eBooks currently being offered, broken up by genre. Archive.org also contains a large collection of children's books available for online viewing or download. You can find more great eBooks for kids of all ages on Scholastic.com.

You can also download a few cool reading apps for kids. Whether he wants to write and illustrate his own story, create an interactive experience with sounds and animation, or find recommendations from kids his own age, there's an app that can help.

Three kids sharing one book
Encourage Book Sharing
Host a book swap at your house and ask all of your child's friends to bring a book to share. It's a great way to expose kids to new material and will get everyone talking about what they like to read, and why. Your child's friends likely have a lot of the same interests as she does, so they'll probably have books she'll want to read, too.
Young boy flipping through a magazine
Get a Subscription
Subscribe to a magazine on a topic that your child is interested in and have it addressed to him. He'll love getting something special in the mail, and knowing it's just for him will likely drive him to read the most current issue.

Looking for more ways to make reading fun? Check out our printables center for tons of reading skill-builders and book activities, and find book recommendations for all ages.