Can a reading environment really make a difference in nurturing a love of reading for children? I believe it can when conditions are in place to foster reading.
Here are 5 tips for fostering a reading environment children will love:
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Tip #1: Create a Reading Space with Your Child
My favorite space to read is outside lounging on a chair in the hot sun! My one daughter loves to read smothered in comfy pillows with soft pillowcases while having a blanket hanging over her entire bed. She turns on her star light in the corner with a dim lamp so it looks like she is reading under the stars!
My point is, everyone is different… even within the same family! What is an ideal reading space for you may not be ideal for your child. Please involve your child in the creation of his/her reading space. Consider the type of lighting your child prefers to read in, the environment, time of day most reading will be done, and so on.
Tip #2: Model Reading as Special Time
I have heard many parents tell me that they themselves dislike reading, but that they want it to be different for their child. Some even state in front of their child how much they themselves hate it! However, if reading is not being modeled as something of value within the home, how will it be viewed as valuable?
Modeling reading can include anything from reading your favorite book, magazine or comic book… as long as it is done free of other distractions such as checking out the latest updates on social media. Enjoying a nice, hot beverage while reading can be a nice way to enhance the experience. Offering a special drink for your child that is only offered during reading time can help associate reading as something for him or her to cherish as well.
Tip #3: Have Reading be Distraction Free
Expecting your child to focus on a book and read with the tv on or with his/her favorite piece of technology within arm’s reach is likely to be unsuccessful. I find setting up the environment for reading success to be helpful. For example, if we are going to an appointment in which we know there will be waiting, I encourage my younger children to pack a book. I do the same. Haha, I have no games on my phone and rarely have data on so they aren’t interested in my phone anyway. 😉
Other than that, we tend to allow our children to stay up later if they are reading. It is amazing how motivating this one factor can be… even if it is only 15-30 minutes! When the option is to simply turn out the lights or stay up later if seen reading, the choice practically ALWAYS is to read! Research shows that reading before falling asleep enhances one’s sleep as well, which is an added benefit.
Tip #4: Provide Easy Access to Enjoyable Reading Material
Books, to me, are like music. My song choices vary depending on the mood I’m in as well as the tone and messages I am in the mood for. I love variety in my music! I also love variety in my books!
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a super easy read that simply makes me smile. I still love to read Archie comics, for example. I loved them as a kid… still love them as an adult! 🙂 Most days, however, I’m in the mood for a much deeper read. I tend to change it up a lot! In fact, it is not uncommon for me to have a few books on the go at once in which I pick up whatever I’m in the mood for on any given day.
My hubby, on the other hand, is a one-style reader and pretty much always reads a book from start to finish before picking up any other reading. He loves any book written by Lee Child. He is extremely predictable in his reading! My adult son likes to read about influential people. He recently enjoyed Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons.
Please involve your child when picking out reading material.
Just as the adults in my house go for different genres and reading material, so likely will each individual in your home. Even my 3 daughters rarely pick the same type of books as each other! I honestly don’t care as long as they are reading and developing a love of reading!
I recommend checking out the local library or going book shopping together. You will want to ensure there is easy access to the reading material your child will enjoy most. Be sure that it is either reading material that is at the independent or instructional reading level. If you need more information as to what I mean by this, please check out Strategy 1 in this blog post.
Having a special shelf or home for your child’s books once they are in the home can also be of benefit. My kids like baskets in their room for their go-to books.
Tip #5: Have Book Talk as a Regular Part of Conversation Time
I don’t know about your kids, but mine like to be heard. I am always amazed at how much they have to say when I am doing laundry, for example. Suddenly each of them has something to show me or tell me about! I guess they figure I’m more likely to be fully engaged in the conversation when I have a job to do that requires me to be in one area, haha!
Whatever this time is for you, don’t hesitate to slip in a question or two about the book your child is reading. Bringing up a few tidbits from your own reading is great as well! This helps our children empathize with characters and further emphasizes the value seen in reading.
What if My Child Still Refuses to Read?
If the reading environment is ideal and your child is still refusing to read, there is a possibility that reading is not a comfortable activity for your child. There may be a barrier in place that needs to be overcome so reading can become comfortable and something that is done with confidence.
Does your child prefer to be read to? Reading to your child provides great bonding time. This is true no matter what age our child is!
Need Book Ideas?
Check out my suggestions for chapter books for reluctant girl readers as well as for reluctant boy readers. I also have a post about hilarious chapter books to read to your child.
What About You?
Do you have any favorite tips for creating a reading environment for children? What is your favorite environment to read in? Please let me know in the comments below.
Great tips! Happy to realize I followed them, however inadvertently, with my own kids back in the ’70s (those that applied!), and in the ’90s with my grandkids. Hope I can remember them by the time I have great-grandkids! haha
I love that you are clearly dedicated to fostering reading in your family, Patricia! 🙂
Great ideas! I am often surprised by the amount of people who say that they hate reading, but want their children to enjoy it!
Yes. However, usually there is an underlying reason for why the parents hate it in my experience (i.e. reading was/is difficult for them). I believe most parents want their children to enjoy reading simply because they realize how important reading is in life. Thank you for reading and commenting, Leiloni! 🙂
Great tips! We follow most of them, my girls love story time before bedtime.
I love these suggestions! As an English teacher, I realize there’s only so much I can do in the classroom to foster a love for reading and much of it starts at home and from an early age (I teach high-school so unfortunately it’s difficult — though not impossible– to convert book haters into book lovers at that age). When I was a child, I naturally loved to read so my parents never had to persuade me, but because I was shy, introverted, and not particularly athletic, it suited my personality. Plus, there weren’t smart phones or social media or any of the myriad distractions we have today. Our family didn’t even have a computer until I was 10 and it was a VERY slow dial up modem. Today’s parents have much bigger challenges when it comes to competing against all the distractions, and your suggestions are excellent ones!
With electronics and too much screen time for little kids I really want to encourage reading. My niece is 2 years old and is obsessed with phones and just sit on the couch for hours and play on the iPad. I really want my little girl to love reading as much as me.
What’s your suggestion on screen time? Is there a way to allow your kids screentime/tv but also foster reading?
Hi Arianne, there is a way to allow screentime/tv and also foster reading. I wrote a blog post about this awhile ago. You can read it at https://sherrymlee.com/2018/11/things-watching-tv-and-reading-should-have-in-common/ I hope this helps! 🙂
Great advice! What’s your thoughts on screen time/tv?
Is letting your child have those counterintuitive for encouraging reading?
It doesn’t have to be, especially when screentime is an activity that is being enjoyed with your child. There are suggested guidelines today for screentime that varies with a child’s age. These can be found online and may vary a bit depending on the source.
I love reading! My oldest (13) absolutely hates it! I’ve been trying for long to get her to just pick up a book to pick up a book and read. She refuses, so unfortunately I’ve had to kind of force her to do it. It was a last resort. I started out by letting her choose the books and she was interested in Anime but even still she didn’t take it seriously, so during my last library haul I picked up two books in a series and made her read them. The first one she took almost three weeks to complete. The second one I demanded that she read 5 chapters a day and sat with her and had everything OFF as she did it. Eventually she started grabbing the book on her own and I was sitting with her when she finished and she was apparently very mad about how it ended. That let me know she was interested/invested in the book. Also, another thing I did to help keep her interested or at least to make it feel less of a “punishment” was that after she read her 5 chapters I asked her to draw out her favorite part of what she read. It could be a character, a place that was described. She’s very artistic so she enjoyed doing that
One of my daughters complained to me recently about how a story she read ended as well. I was happy to know she was invested in the book. I’m glad your daughter is starting to enjoy reading more. 🙂
Great article! I’m so glad my girls love to read 💕 It’s something I don’t always take time to enjoy personally and should try to fit my own reading time in more 🙂
I’m sure you won’t regret it when you do schedule reading in! It’s awesome that your girls enjoy it! 🙂
Great ideas! I have one child who is a natural reader like me and one who isn’t. The one who isn’t needs a lot more coaxing, choice of books, and regular schedule but we are getting there!
It’s awesome that you are continuing to work on it. Two of my children were easy to do homework with and the other two not so much, so I definitely understand that not all reading time together will be conducive to great parent-child relationship building when the child needs coaxing. Keep working through it and praise all the improvements you see. 🙂
Reading is an amazing thing and much needed these days when kids are so fond of smartphones.
Yes, reading isn’t going away. It is of tremendous importance that our kids learn to read.
My kids LOVE reading. It has always been a goal of mine to raise book lovers. My mom instilled the love in me and i’m so glad I have the opportunity to share with them. Thank you for this!
I love that you are sharing your love of reading with your kids! That’s awesome! 🙂
Great tips! I love the idea of a reading space!
They can be a lot of fun to create, too! 🙂
This is a cool post! My kids have always loved to read, but looking back, we have unintentionally made books really easy to access for them, so I think this is probably why. My husband and I both love to read I I think they have been exposed to a lot of books and have seen us doing it 🙂
Being a good role model for reading and providing easy access to books are great ways to foster the love of reading. 🙂
I have always loved reading and work really hard to ensure my children also enjoy reading. Love all of your suggestions!
That’s awesome, Cindy! Thank you for checking out this post. 🙂
These are great suggestions. If only I could get my kids to even be INTERESTED in books at all!
It definitely can take patience and persistence with some kids. Hang in there and keep trying! 🙂
This is great! We read everyday with the kids. It is really an activity that brings us a ton of joy and brings us closer together.
That’s fantastic! What a great way to bond as a family! 🙂
I read every night to my son before bed. He’s only 13 months, but i hope by reading to him every night he will learn to love reading. One of our lower shelves on a book case houses all his picture books. He loves to walk over and pull them off the shelf and open them.
I love everything about your comment! 🙂
We love books around here! I am praying my daughter loves to read more and more as she gets into grade school!
The fact that you love books and are modelling that love is a great place to start! 🙂
I love these ideas! Childhood literacy is a passion of mine, so I will definitely be implementing some of these tips! Thank you!
It is a great passion to have! 🙂
Love all these ideas! Thank you!
Thank you for checking them out! 🙂
These are great tips! I am a newbie homeschooler so these are so helpful to us!
Excellent! I’m so glad you find them helpful. I wish you all the best on your homeschooling journey. 🙂