I hear from quite a few parents who wish that their child would read more. If you are one of those parents who value reading and are frustrated by how little your child reads, you might try experimenting with some of the ideas contained in the articles linked to below.

One nugget I personally gained from the first article — culled from npr interviews with Daniel Willingham, a psychologist and the author of Raising Kids Who Read — is that it can be OK if your young reader seems to want to read only graphic novels. My 11-year-old stepson seemed to be ‘stuck’ in this genre for quite a while. But, as Willingham reassures us, graphic novels can serve as a “gateway drug … to other reading material.” And even if they don’t, he says, it would “be fine even if graphic novels were the mainstay of [a] child’s reading diet.” In our household, the “gateway drug” seems indeed to be taking effect, as we observe my stepson transitioning more and more from reading graphic novels almost exclusively to reading longer, text-only chapter books. And I believe that this switch was aided by the fact that we were patient (mostly), and trusting (mostly), and refrained (mostly) from trying to dictate his reading choices — instead letting him move on to arguably more challenging reading material whenever he felt ready (while we also employed some of the other strategies in these articles, to subtly encourage that process along).

Another tip I can personally vouch for is the first one listed in the second article, from the website parents.com. The advice here is to suggest that your child listen to audiobooks as an ‘alternative’ to actively reading books (one could argue that listening to audiobooks is in fact a form of reading). Listening to audiobooks is, in the view of many, an acceptable use of technology. For instance, in our home, this activity does not count as “screen time” — and yet in some ways it does resemble watching a movie and indeed it is a form of entertainment via electronic media. So, audiobooks can serve as a ‘family compromise,’ of sorts: the child gets the exposure to great stories and to classic literature that parents want for him or her — and with all the mind-enriching benefits that come with that (including: an enhanced vocabulary, an appreciation for narrative, a nourished imagination, and so on) — and also the child gets to consume a work of entertainment delivered via electronic media. Audiobooks also, of course, can expand the world of literature for children with dyslexia or with challenges in visual processing, which can make reading books exceptionally difficult.

Here are the links, again, to the full articles mentioned above:



I hope these are helpful to you. Feel free to leave a comment about strategies that you find particularly helpful in encouraging your child to read more.