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4 Steps to Engage Young Readers

As children, we’ve all been there before - feeling the dread when a parent or educator told us to read a book. They may have assigned it for a school assignment or perhaps decided that they wanted the children in their lives to read more. Whatever the reason, being given a book -- without much of a choice in the title -- can be dreadful.

Today, you may have young readers in your life who need a bit of encouragement with their reading. They can’t seem to find books they enjoy and, therefore, aren’t reading. Don’t worry! Here are some steps to engage children and introduce them to the joys of reading.

1. Let Them Choose

First and foremost, put the power of choice in their hands! As children, we didn’t enjoy having someone else tell us what to read so why should we continue the pattern? With public libraries, school libraries, bookstores, digital resources, and beyond, putting children in the driver’s seat (not literally, safety first) is a great first step to having them engage with reading more deeply. When you are in an environment where children can choose the books, take a few steps back. Allow them to interact with the books and let them choose for themselves.

2. Read With Them

Now that they’ve chosen books that they are excited to read, set an example! It’s important to read with children. Independent readers may want to exert their autonomy by reading by themselves. Make it a family event and take that time to read your own book. For younger readers, reading the book together is incredibly valuable! In some instances, bring the story alive by incorporating sounds or actions.

3. Create Experiences

Better yet - create experiences! Similar to reading together, creating experiences is an excellent way to have engaged readers. Reading a book about nature? Take a trip to your local garden. Finding books about music and dancing do the trick? Find events at your local community center or turn to YouTube for videos on the history of music.

4. Make Time For Distraction-Free Reading

In a highly connected age, it is important to set a tone that reading is a priority. Block off time, perhaps before bed, without the distractions of phones, televisions, notifications, and beyond. Digital reading tools like tablets can be used for literacy and learning - just make sure the notifications are snoozed! Perhaps you and your young reader use a digital tool in the afternoons and books in the evenings when it’s time to wind down or incorporate a blue-light filter at night to help the mind settle.

Once your young reader has piqued their interest and finds books they enjoy, check out the abundance of resources in Literacy Central.

kids reading outside