Friday, September 20, 2013

12 Tips for Encouraging Kids to Read (and a book review)

Growing up, everybody in our household liked to read. My dad and my sister read the newspaper. Dad also read the dictionary. My brother read mysteries. My mom read hundreds of fiction titles. And I enjoyed classic tales like "Anne of Green Gables" and "Little Women." (As a preteen I started sneaking my mom's books too.)

It's important to me that my kids like to read as well, because reading is the foundation for good writing. Like many parents, my husband and I shared reading time with our children each night at bedtime when they were smaller. We still do occasionally (my husband has been reading "The Little Prince" to them) but often they just take too long to get ready for bed.

Because we can't always sit down and read with the kids, I have been researching ways to encourage their love of reading. Here are some of the tips I found.

12 Tips for Encouraging Kids to Read

  1. ABC Life Literacy Canada says it's important for children to see their parents reading, whether it's the newspaper, the mail or a recipe. Children model the behaviour they see. Discuss magazine, online and newspaper articles with your kids.
  2. All reading is good reading. If your child doesn't like to sit down and read a lot of text, offer comics, a graphic novel or a magazine. All of these formats introduce kids to new words, sentence structure, ideas and information.
  3. Boys prefer informational texts that describe how to make or do things. Your son may be reading as much as the girls - just not in the conventional sense. Pokémon cards, sports stats and game instructions are all valid forms of reading.
  4. Have your child read the lyrics to a favourite song. Then, when she hears the song, she'll visualize the lyrics she has read.
  5. When you are out and about with your kids, encourage them to read signs, posters and flyers aloud.
  6. While driving, play an audio book and have your child follow along with the written book.
  7. Have your child read a recipe to you while you make dinner.
  8. Do simple crosswords together.
  9. Play board games, encouraging the kids to read the instructions.
  10. Watch a movie based on a book. Your child may be inspired to read the book too. Ask him to identify the differences between the movie and the book.
  11. Get library cards for each child. Help them choose books that relate to their interests.
  12. Pick books that suit your child's reading ability and not the level you feel your child "should" be at. This will build his reading confidence.

Scholastic Branches

If you have a child around the age of 5 or 6, you may be finding that he or she is getting too old for leveled readers but is still too young to read chapter books independently. I certainly noticed a gap in the book market when my kids were that age.

To fill this gap, Scholastic has come out with "Branches," a new line of illustrated early chapter books. Aimed at children ages 5 to 7, Branches books are high-concept stories with decodable text for newly independent readers. They are 80 or 96 pages long and are made up of a 50:50 text-to-art ratio with illustrations that reinforce text on every page.

My daughter is turning 9 years old next month, but she still read and enjoyed two Branches books recently. Each book is one in a series, so that children can bond with relatable main characters and hopefully express interest in reading the next book in the series.

We received "Missy's Super Duper Royal Deluxe: Picture Day," by Susan Nees, and "Looniverse: Stranger Things," by David Lubar. My daughter gravitated to the more "girly" story of Missy and her cat "Pink." The story centres on the school picture day and Missy's plans to wear a fabulous outfit of ruffles, rainbows, ribbons and sparkles. Unfortunately, Missy's mom has other plans. That's how the story's central conflict begins.

The mysterious nature of the "Looniverse" book appealed to my girl as well. Ed's adventures begin when he stumbles, falls and discovers a large, glittery coin. From then on, this regular boy finds that his life goes from boring to beyond wacky. This one is for adventure lovers! Both of these books have engaging illustrations that keep the text from becoming overwhelming. Find more Branches titles here.

What does your child like to read? What do you like to read?

*I received books for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


  1. This is really interesting and thought provoking. Having a boy and a girl I definitely notice a difference in the type of reading they do - my girl loves fiction (rainbow magic series is a major winner but she's just discovered the Famous Five series and we love that!) My little man reads lots of factual type books about dinosaurs, the environment, and jungle animals! He remembers lots of these facts at age 6! My sister uses the comic strategy for her boys as they are more reluctant readers. Very interesting though - well done! J9 x

  2. My son really enjoyed the Geronimo Stilton books, especially the way the text is sometimes illustrated. It's funny to hear him in his room laughing :)

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