Children learn to read at different rates and ages. But for some of them, this process is particularly slow and steady. Most of the time, this could be due to a lack of motivation. When this happens, kids are less likely to put the time and effort to improve it, which, unfortunately, leads to a cycle of poor reading skills and more frustration. And of course, less love for reading.

So how can we work on motivating a child? These could probably seem impossible at times, but it is easier than you may realize. Here are seven tips you can try to encourage good reading habits in your child:

  • Set time for reading. Establish a reading time, even if it is only 10 minutes a day, as a regular short time of quality is better than an occasional long session. Along with this, you can also swap tv watching for an evening to read with them before bed.
  • Provide an environment that encourages them to enjoy books — having a cozy, comfortable space for them to have their reading time is beneficial for building interest in books. But another critical factor is to have parents as role models. Because if you want your kids to enjoy reading for pleasure, what better way than showing them that you enjoy it too.
  • Make it as fun as possible. Try not to present this as a chore as they will be less likely to improve. Instead, pick books they can relate to or books that feature topics they are already interested in or even help them discover new genres. Challenge them to make up fun voices as you read with them.
  • Make sure the reading material is at your child’s reading level, as this is key to maintain your child’s motivation. However, if you want to try books with higher reading levels, once they’re comfortable reading, make sure they have plenty of illustrations and diagrams.
  • Make it interactive. When reading, ask them questions about the story (characters, places in the story, what they think will happen next) and help them link themes in books with their own experiences. After that, you can also prompt them to retell the stories you’ve read together. Try to help them to remember the sequence of the story by giving them clues.
  • Look for reading problems. Sometimes when a child struggles in reading on an ongoing basis without any improvement, it could be due to an underlying learning disability. This is why it is so important to keep your eye out for signs of reading problems so you can look for other solutions.
  • Don’t forget to praise them for the little accomplishments.
Gloria Rios
Division of Speech Therapy
Gloria Rios
Speech Therapist
Children, adolescents and adults
Languages: English and Spanish
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