Getting your child to read always feels like a parenting win, doesn’t it?  We’re constantly told by the media and by scientists how important it is for kids to read. And these experts certainly aren’t wrong.  But encouraging your child to read is a bit tricky when they absolutely hate it?  What do you do when your child point blank refuses to even look at a book?  It’s tough but don’t give up, there might still be some hope.  Let’s look at some ways to encourage your child to read.

Know what you’re fighting for:

You’ve survived the toddler tantrums.  The all-out screaming episodes about what your child doesn’t want to eat … wear … play … clean.  And after negotiating all those difficult times you may find yourself enjoying the relative calm of the primary school years.  Wondering whether you really want to start fighting this reading battle.  But it helps to know what you’re fighting for.  What does your child gain if you are able to successfully encourage him to read?

In a nutshell? Life long success.  Reading is one of the most fundamental skills children need, not only in school but also later in life.  Reading develops vocabulary, increases attention span and promotes stronger analytical thinking.  It increases brain connectivity, prevents cognitive decline, reduces stress and may even help you live longer.  

Starting to sound worth it right?  OK, so how do you start?  

First, it’s important to figure out why your child doesn’t like reading.

Why Does My Child Hate Reading?

Here are some of the main reasons children have listed for not wanting to read:

  • It feels like a chore
  • Reading is difficult
  • It’s boring
  • They haven’t found a book that interests them yet

Ask your child what it is about reading that he doesn’t enjoy.  Once you know where the problem lies, you can begin to address it.  

By making reading fun and easy, your child is more likely to develop a love of reading.  And encouraging better reading habits is likely to make learning easier.

4 tips for encouraging your child to read:

Try these 10 easy tips to encourage good reading habits in your child by making reading fun.

Make it a family thing

When children see their parents reading books and magazines they start to value the importance of reading.  Set up the lounge chairs outside or cosy up on the couch and encourage your child to join you with his or her own book while you are reading.  After your child has finished a book, talk to him about the story and ask what his favourite part was. This will help to enhance your child’s comprehension skills.

It’s important for children to have easy access to a variety of reading material.  So collect and swap interesting books, magazines and even comics with friends who have children of the same age. 

Some design work may also go a long way in encouraging your child to read.  Create an appealing space that will draw your child to reading. Think bean bags, pretty colours, fluffy pillows and posters of your child’s favourite toys or superheroes all propped around a centered bookshelf.  

Lastly, try to read a story every night.  When you make reading part of your child’s night-time routine they learn to associate reading with relaxation.

Encouraging your child to read doesn’t stop at home

Reading is about more than just books.  Encourage your child to read road signs, menu’s, movie subtitles, game instructions, name badges – literally anything that has text.  

Going to the library turns reading into a fun outing. Joining your local library greatly increases the variety of books your child has access to and increases the chance that he will find something that interests him.  Also look out for some of the organised events at your library such as story hour.

Get a dog

No seriously!  Researchers from Brock University recently found that children spent significantly more time reading and showed more persistence when a dog – regardless of age or breed – was in the room as opposed to when they read without them.  In addition, the children also reported feeling more interested and more competent.  

Reading Should Be Fun, Not Frustrating!

If your child has difficulty reading he is going to feel frustrated and self-aware with reading tasks.  If you suspect your child has a reading problem take a step back and first figure out why he is struggling. Talk with your child’s teacher and address the issue as soon as possible. An assessment may help to pinpoint where the difficulty lies and can provide strategies for overcoming these.  

For more information about the importance of reading, or to book a consultation, contact Anel Annandale at 021 423 0739 or via email at