I’m a reading teacher and a pretty devoted mom, so my kids should love to read, right?

Well, not so much. While my oldest child is an avid reader who loves books (thank goodness), my youngest does not. At. All. In fact, he’s said more than once that he hates it.

It can be tough parenting a stubborn reader. I’ve given him countless books, offered rewards, pleaded with him, and I may even have made a few threats. But he just doesn’t love to read.

And I know that kids who don’t love to read tend not to do it. And the costs of not reading are high.

Motivation to read is critical to my son’s success, simply because kids who read more achieve more.  With that in mind, I’ve looked far and wide for tools to help my stubborn kid learn to love reading – and here’s what I’ve found.

7 Ways to Motivate Your Stubborn Reader

Read aloud to them, even when they can read on their own.

At 7 years old, my son struggles to sit and read a book on his own, but he loves to hear stories being read aloud to him.

So instead of battling with him every day after school to read on his own for 20 minutes, we sit down and read a story together. Luckily, hearing stories read aloud is just as beneficial for children as time spent reading on their own.

Allow them free choice.

Allowing my child to choose whatever he wants to read can seem kinda risky, especially when he wants to read books that seem too easy or too difficult or are just plain bad (Not like bad-bad, but bad as in not quality literature. Yeesh.).

But allowing kids to choose what they want to read increases their engagement and builds their self-confidence as readers. So it’s actually a win-win!

Capture their interests.

My son lives and breathes sports.

Knowing that, I try to give him every book on sports that I can find – for much the same reason that I allow him free choice. Finding books on topics that interest your child increases their motivation to read, so be sure to keep his or her interests in mind next time you’re choosing books.

Don’t give up on pictures.

Even though my son can read chapter books on his own, he still loves picture books. To help bridge the gap between picture books and chapter books, I started giving him graphic novels. Baby Mouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon quickly became favorites in our house.

Set page goals, not time goals.

Asking my son to read for 20 minutes would often lead to a few minutes of actual reading and a lot of minutes spent fidgeting and being distracted. So instead, we started setting page goals, such as “read the next seven pages” or “finish the next chapter” and then we’d talk about what he’d read.

Talking about it keeps him accountable, and reading seven pages is more manageable for him than reading for a seemingly endless period of time.

Make frequent trips to the library.

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also the key to helping your child find books that work for them.

At the library, my kids can try out all types of books, and then choose the kind that interests them the most – without any cost to me as a parent.

Be patient.

A stubborn reader may actually be a child who isn’t confident in their reading ability.

The more experiences you can offer your child to help him or her feel successful as a reader, the more confident they’ll become and the more motivated they will be to read.

It’s taken a long time for me to figure out just what my son needed in order to start loving to read. And although we’re not quite there yet, we’re making gains every day.

More resources on motivating your stubborn reader:

Great Graphic Novels for Kids from Scholastic

24 Ways to Motivate Beginning Readers

How to Create the Perfect Home Library for Your Kids  

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