Big Kids are Different Readers

Before my kids hit their pre-teen years and dived headfirst into the world of technology, they loved to read.

I thought I’d successfully checked off “raise a reader” in the parenting handbook.

Then along came electronics, phones, middle school and suddenly reading lost all its intrigue.

Turns out encouraging your child to enjoy reading is a skill that must be tuned all through their life.

As I parent through the pre-teen and teen years, here are 13 tips that have encouraged reading to take a priority in my children’s lives.

encouraging your child to enjoy reading

13 Ways to Raise a Reader for Life

1. Read in the Car

Don’t allow phones or iPads or electronics in the car, especially for trips around town. Not only do these short 10-30 breaks allow you time to talk to your kids, but it’s also a great time to sneak in reading.

Keep books or magazines available in the car. When they complain of your music or boredom, invite them to read.

2. Family Book Club

When one of your kids is assigned a book to read for school, encourage others in the family read it along with them.

Reading the book as a family makes for great conversation and excites the child who is assigned the book.

Allow the child whose assignment it is at school, to lead the rest of the family in conversations. By doing this, you can promote leadership skills in your child and prepare them (unknowingly) for any class book report.

3. Books Turned into Movies

Encourage your kids to read books that are now movies or even TV shows by using the film as a reward.

You can find upcoming movies for the year by a simple google search of “upcoming movies from books” or why not watch some older movies? Check out this list here, I bet you didn’t realize most of these started out as books.

4. Devices off Before Bed

Turn off all devices before bed and gather in the same room and everyone grabs a book.

It’s no secret by now that reading a paper book before bed with phones and tablets turned off improves sleep. If you need a little enforcement, turn off the WiFi in the house.

5. Audiobooks While Driving

If you have a long car ride or a road trip as a family, find an audiobook you’ll all enjoy.

You may decide to start with an audiobook from a movie you’ve all seen so the characters are recognizable, and the plot is relatively easy to follow along to for your first audiobook together.

6. Your Child’s Library Card

Not only can your child check out books from the library but make sure to download the audio and eBook readers your library has available on your child’s tablet or phone.

Their library membership will allow them to download books from there as well.

Hoopla and Libby are two awesome apps available at my public library for checking out audiobooks and eBooks and are likely available at your library as well.

7. More Than One

Encourage your child to read more than one book at a time.

They can leave one at school to read, have one to read at home at bedtime and even one downloaded as an audiobook.

8. Listen While Working

If your child likes audiobooks, encourage them to listen to an audiobook while they do chores.

Explain it can be a fun way to make a dull chore more enticing.  listen while working out or walking the dog

9. Reading Challenge

Encourage your child to join a reading challenge over the summer. Most public libraries have them as well as schools. Join the challenge yourself as well as anyone else in your family, even if they are “too” old or young.

Cheering each other on throughout the challenge will make it more exciting for your child.

You can also find (or create) lots of different “reading bingo” to complete during the summer months.

10. Earn Time

Instead of giving your kids free time on the computer, phone, or TV, have them earn it.

For each minute they spend reading, they earn a minute of TV time or phone time.

Exchanging technology time for reading time works exceptionally well during the summer or on weekends when you’re more likely to hear “I’m bored” but when you suggest reading you receive eye rolls.

Instead, start the day with reading, no questions asked.

11.  Set Goals

Each family member should set their own daily reading goals based on their abilities.

It can be a page number (50 pages per day) or a time amount (20 minutes per day.)

When you gather in the evening, talk about if everyone has met their reading goal, you included, and who needs some quiet time to make their goal for the day.

Optionally, you can have a weekly celebration for those who make their daily goal every day of the week, such as ice cream on Sundays.

12. Be Caught Reading

We hear this bit of advice when our children are babies, but our children never stop watching us.

Our kids should see us reading every day and watch us as we pick reading books over electronics.

13. Unlikely Places

Go the extra mile to find books for your older child.

The best seller list won’t always impress them.

Search online for best teenager books or fantasy books, or whatever genre they’re into at the time.

Ask the librarian for suggestions.

I’ve had great success at book fairs. My kids enjoy spending time picking out books for themselves, and as a result, they will read them when we arrive home.

Another place I’ve found different series books I can’t find elsewhere is Usborne books. There’s usually someone inviting me to an Usborne party a couple of times per year, and I attend because I can’t find the same books even on Amazon.

If you find a book your child likes from a series, then all the better. Order or check out the whole series. Book series can keep kids excited about reading for months without trying to find a new book.

How to Read Out Loud With Your Pre-Teen

Laying the Foundation

Regardless of how hard you try to encourage reading; you’ll find it will ebb and flow. There will be seasons when you’re sure your child will never pick up a book again in their life, followed shortly by non-stop reading.

The best thing you can do is put nudges in all the right places and help lay the foundation as they grow up.


Guest Post by Jennifer at SunflowerMom. Jennifer writes to encourage single moms to live their fullest life with God’s grace and love. She lives in Kansas with her teenagers and German Shepard.

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