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Helping Kids Enjoy Reading

For many kids, reading doesn't come easily. Some kids have trouble making the connection between letters and their sounds. Other kids have not yet found a story that interests them and shows just how fun reading can be.

For all kids, though, knowing letters, sounds, and words are important skills for learning throughout life.

Read with your kids often, and try these other simple ways to help them become excited about reading:

Start with your child's picks. Kids are more likely to read something that interests them. For example, comics or joke books can be a fun pick for your child. A comic book can help kids understand that events take place in order because stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They also help build vocabulary and show that books can be fun to look at. Once your child is comfortable with reading, you can encourage other options with a variety of more challenging content.

Read and reread. Many kids reach for the same books again and again. That's not only OK, it's a good thing! Repetition helps kids learn the text and in time read it with confidence. Each new reading of the book also may help them notice something new and understand the story a little better. And that positive experience can inspire kids to try new books.

Read aloud. Reading aloud to your kids helps them build their vocabulary, introduces new facts and ideas, and helps them connect sounds with letters on the page. By reading with your children, you also show them that you enjoy reading for fun! Reading aloud provides time together that you'll all enjoy.

Create opportunities to read and write beyond the pages. Provide kids with many chances to read every day. Write notes and leave them on your child's pillow, in a lunchbox, or in a pocket. Ask friends and relatives to send postcards, letters, emails, or text messages. Leave magnetic letters and words on the fridge, and you may find your child also creating words, sentences, and stories. Teach your child to craft a thank-you note in return for a thoughtful gift.

On car/bus/train trips or errands, play word games that build language skills. You might try "I Spy" ("I spy something that starts with an 'a' ...") or games where you pick a category (like "food") and everyone has to name foods that begin with a certain letter. Kids often enjoy reading the signs they see while outside (like those on restaurants and stores, plus road signs and billboards).

Sometimes electronic books (e-books) can help encourage reading. When kids become interested in a book, regardless of the format, help make connections between the story and their life. Start conversations that build a love of reading and learning.

Get help if you're worried. If you're concerned about your child's ability or willingness to read, get help. Talk to your child's doctor or teacher. They may be able to suggest ways to help your child to get excited about reading.

Reviewed by: Cynthia M. Zettler-Greeley, PhD
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2022

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