3 Ways to Raise Children who Love to Read

by Joy Turner March 20, 2024

father reading book to son and daughter

Inspiring a love of reading in our preschool-aged children has many benefits for their social, emotional and intellectual development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading out loud at home activates areas of the brain supporting imagination and comprehension. Many great books are available to help children identify their emotions and feelings, while developing social cues around everything from empathy to friendships to responsibility. And the benefits don’t stop there. Data from The Ohio State University says children whose caregivers read just one book a day to them will hear about 290,000 more words by age 5 than those who regularly don’t.

What if, despite our best efforts, our children say “I don’t want to read” or “reading is boring”—then how do we reset their love of reading? Here are three ways to put the spark back into your children’s literacy development.

Choose a variety of books

Expose your children to a variety of thoughts and feelings through words and pictures that are both a mirror of their own lives but also a window into different cultures and experiences. Seeking out inclusive texts offers your child a window through which to see different viewpoints. It creates a familiarity with the perspectives of other races, religions, cultures, genders and more that will translate into greater understanding and empathy for others.

Children also need to read stories that reflect or mirror their own experiences to help make sense of the world around them. Seeing children who look and act like them who are represented in literature help them to feel more connected and valued in society. Make sure you help your children make these connections to real life by saying things like, “The little girl in your book plays soccer just like you do! Do you think she was excited to score a goal, too?”

Suggested inclusive books:

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

Who Takes Care of You? by Hannah Eliot

“Kindness Makes Us Strong” by Sophie Beer

Bring books to life

Making reading fun can be as simple as using a different silly voice for each character or acting out different scenes with your children. Choosing books with an interactive aspect like following directions for preschoolers or touch and feel elements for babies can help them feel like reading is more of playtime than a chore. Another way to create engagement is to play “I spy” with items in the illustrations that have been mentioned in the text or by asking relevant follow-up questions about what they see and hear.

Check your local community calendars for reading events hosted around town. For instance—each summer at Kiddie Academy locations nationwide, we host StoryTime LIVE! events where storybook characters in costume read books to children. Events like these can help inspire even more of an interest in reading.

Suggested interactive books:

Press Here by Herve Tullet

There’s A Dragon In Your Book by Tom Fletcher

Stir Crack Whisk Bake by Maddie Frost

Visit your local library

Children love the excitement of having something of their own that makes them feel like a “big kid.” The responsibility of maintaining their own library card is a fun step in developing a love of reading and igniting some excitement in the process. Set aside ample time to head to the library and let your children peruse at their leisure, looking through books and deciding on their own what they want to take home. When your children are invested in their book choices, they are more likely to want to actually read them.

Keep baskets of books in various rooms of your house in arm’s reach for easy accessibility. When your children get tired of books in the baskets, store them away for a time and create a rotation in your personal library. When the books they’ve forgotten about come back out, they’ll again be interested in engaging with them.

It’s our job as parents to expose our children, one book at a time, to an activity that will have such a profound influence on their lives—so let’s have some fun while we’re at it.

Joy Turner


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