Ways to Encourage Children to Read

Encouraging children to read can be tricky, as books can be seen as more of a chore than a pleasure. Below are some tips and tricks to help them get into reading.


Reading is an essential skill we learn as children that we develop right into adulthood. Even after your children have learned to read by themselves, it's still important to read with them and encourage their curiosity in books.

As your children grow and develop, by choosing books and stories that are at their interest level, you can motivate your children to improve their reading skills whilst helping to stretch their imagination and understanding.

But how can parents make it fun for their children?

How to encourage your child to read more

You can't make someone think that reading is fun anymore than you can make someone find a joke funny. What you can do is help create an environment in which they may enjoy reading more. The best tactics will depend on your child's age and on their current level of enthusiasm for reading, but some things apply to everyone from toddlers to teens.

Lead by example

Try to let your child see that reading is part of your life too. There is particularly strong evidence that seeing an adult male role model as a reader has a big impact on boys' enthusiasm for reading. Even if you're not able to relax in a corner and read a book in full view of your child, you can still show that you read by talking about it from time to time and by leaving the evidence (such as books, magazines and newspapers) around the house.

Let children make their own choices

Sometimes your child might be given a book, or have one recommended to them, and they may well love it. However, you can't underestimate the importance of letting them find something they want in a library or bookshop (on the high street or online). Whether it's a picture book, a comic or The Lord of the Rings, the important thing is that they've chosen it and they will almost certainly start reading it - because they think they'll enjoy it.

Give your kids the fun stuff

If your daughter wants to read all seventy-eight books in that pink-fairy-stardust series you can't stand, then that's wonderful! You already have a child who thinks reading is fun. All of the evidence for the impact of reading for pleasure relates to exactly that: reading for pleasure. None of it indicates that you have to read Tolstoy for pleasure.

Give them more challenging options

If you feel strongly that your child is missing out on more challenging books that they would love, then you might try doing a deal - "Read one of these books that I think you'll love and then you can have the next instalment of pink-fairy-stardust."

But if they try a book and don't like it, don't show any disapproval and don't force the issue. See below for resources to help you select the books your children will love.

Encourage them to take part in a reading competition

For some children, an element of challenge or competition will really help with their motivation to read. A great initiative is the Summer Reading Challenge, which is normally delivered over the summer holidays through public libraries but has gone virtual this year.

Printed books or eBooks?

It simply isn't important - budget-permitting give your child what they like, because the big benefits of reading for pleasure come regardless of whether children read eBooks or printed books. Some children will prefer the reassuring presence of a book as a physical object. Others may find reading on screen easier and more instinctively appealing.

Children with a low reading age

Whether it is due to learning difficulties, a lack of enthusiasm, English not being their first language, or any other factor, some children find that their reading isn't quite advanced enough for them to be able to access the books that are written for their age.

However, a growing number of publishers now produce great books by great authors where the language level has been lowered. This means that the characters and themes of the story are suitable for the child's real age, but that the language level also works for them.