How do we help motivate kids to read?

We are celebrating at Making Spirits Bright, because March is Reading Month!  This is a valuable time to acknowledge all the joys of reading and immerse ourselves into new goals to continue well past March.  Did you know that National Reading Month has been recognized since 1994?  All things literacy focused should be admired because, research shows that reading improves vocabulary, reduces stress, increases creativity, and many more benefits!  In this blog post, we have a few ideas to share with you to help spark reading motivation for all readers alike.    

As adults, this is a time to share the delight of reading with the little readers in our lives.  Whether you are a parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, or any impactful relationship to a child, it is our job to model reading and help them find what brings them elation as readers.  So how do we help motivate kids to read?  

When I think back to reading in elementary school, I am filled with Pizza Hut Book It memories.  Now for me, I thrived working towards and reaching a goal.  I was motivated by this incentive of reading equals pizza. Once my goal was reached, I would receive a paper certificate, which my teacher signed with her most perfect cursive handwriting.  I was proud.  It would then travel home in my folder, and I would immediately share with my parents that I EARNED a certificate for FREE pizza!  I felt excitement.  When it worked with our busy schedule, we would make an extra special trip to the local Pizza Hut and have a night out together.  This brought me happiness.  When it was my turn, I would order my personal pan pizza with mushrooms. While waiting, I would drink coca-cola with ice in a nostalgic red tumbler.  Of course, a stop at the salad bar was essential.  I was satisfied.  These feelings of motivation, pride, happiness, excitement, satisfaction, and pizza, all worked for me.  

But, we as adults, know those little readers in our lives are not always motivated by paper certificates and pizza.  So, we need a few tricks in our bag to work from.  Let’s explore some ideas for the little or big readers in your lives.

  1. Create a Reading-friendly Environment: Consider your reader and have them collaborate with you on ideas!  Do they prefer a cozy nook in a tent with pillows and a flashlight?  Or, do they just need a cozy chair?  When your child chooses to read, where do you find them?  Maybe they prefer to read in their bed, on the couch, or in the car.  Give them choices.  If you have an early reader, help them find the space that works for them.  Once they develop a positive experience in a nook of their choice, the hope is that it sticks.  One BIG way to help the reader in your life find the best environment for them is to model it!  Show them what works for you and maybe they will find it works for them too.  

🌟STAR TAKEAWAY: add flashlights, pillows, tents, stuffed animals, cozy chairs, and forts!  In the summer, setup a beach towel and read in the sunshine ☀️

  1. Book Selection:  At times, the hardest part of motivating readers is providing them time to discover what they are drawn to.  A word you will hear me repeat often is CHOICE.  Give them choices.  Bring them to the local library and let them wander and flip through books.  Stop at a nearby Little Free Library, and let them sift through, and find something that piques their interest.  A great way to get to know your reader is to read WITH them.  This time spent together opens up discussions into their reading brains, and therefore you learn more about their interests.  One thing I learned as a parent is that sometimes MY book recommendations for my 3rd grader are not as great in his eyes.  And that’s ok.  Part of being a reader is also learning what you DON’T like to read.  When readers begin to form an opinion about reading topics, this can be so powerful!

🌟STAR TAKEAWAY: Bring them to a book filled environment such as a bookstore, local library (even Target has a HUGE book selection) and give them CHOICES with some adult guided help (if needed).  Additionally, if you or someone you know needs more books at home, reach out to Making Spirits Bright.  

  1. Incorporate Technology:  Some readers need choices with how they absorb the reading as well.  Adding a little variety can be a huge boost in reading motivation.  I love coffee, but I don’t have it from the same location everyday.  I like to mix it up.  Sometimes, it’s from my reliable at home coffee maker and sometimes I venture out to a local coffee shop.  Reading can be the same.  You can read a book or enjoy audiobooks while in the car.  Your little reader may read a book while cozied up on the couch or they may like to read digital e-books online.  Technology can be a positive influence on all things literacy!

🌟STAR TAKEAWAY:  Try out some technology tools such as,

  1. Set Realistic Goals:  Most research suggests a goal of 20 minutes per day of reading with your child.  This 20 minutes also has several elements.  This may be you reading TO the young reader.  This could also mean your READER reading to YOU!  Additionally, depending on the age, you may break this up into 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed.  Keep in mind 20 minutes is a goal, and all goals need to be realistic.  Reading is Reading!  Any time spent reading is a significant benefit, no matter what.  Another fun way of setting reading goals is picking a certain number of books to read a month or even for the year!  Again, this all depends on the reader and the size of books they read.  Small goals are best!  If the goal is reached, celebrate and set a new one!  

🌟STAR TAKEAWAY: In my former classroom, I loved using Everyday Reading Book Logs.  It is recommended to print these on large paper to make the coloring in as you read even more enjoyable.  This could be a group goal, or an individual one.  Also, digitally, GoodReads is a fun way to track reading while also looking for a new book to start.  Lastly, an adorable Reading Journal is a mindful way of tracking while your reader jots down their thoughts.        

  1. Family Book Club:  No matter what age your readers are, an impactful tradition to get into, is reading a chapter book aloud together.  You could create your own family book club.  Select 1 chapter book a month and read it together 1-2x week.  Remember, small goals!  It may even be fun to find the audio version so that you can listen in the car when on the go while reading along.  Depending on the age of your readers you could take turns being the reader and the listener.  Have a vote on the next chapter book when you finish one!  Currently, my son and I are reading Katt vs. Dogg which leaves us full of giggles.  

🌟STAR TAKEAWAY: Have everyone contribute a book choice for the vote, make sure it’s enjoyable and appropriate for ALL ages involved, and lastly pick a consistent spot in the house for family book club. Living room couch? Someone’s bed?  A cozy blanket and pillow setup on the floor?  Make it a family event to get it ready.  Here is a list of illustrated picture books to help get you started! 

We at Making Spirits Bright, hope that these ideas find you energized to take on the rest of the year with a new sense of purpose and excitement brought to you and all the readers you care about.  “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”- Margaret Fuller 


Art credit to Jarrett Lerner

1200 1141 Heather Wilson

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