Seven Ways to Trick Your Child into Reading

Storytime from Little Chicken's Big Day by Katie and Jerry DavisWe bandy about Very Serious terms like teaching standards and required reading as educational nutrients, good for literacy, but something akin to those bran-filled rocks and twig cereals: flavorless, dry, and hard to swallow. As an author and advocate of children’s books, do you have any idea how it kills me when I hear kids say they don’t like to read? I’m all for being honest, but I have absolutely no problem with tricking kids into reading – hey, it’s not like I’m fooling them into bank robbing, right?
We can shout all we want about how it’s proven that kids who read do better in school, are more successful in life, blahblahblah but why not make reading as delicious as a bag of candy? It can be if you take away the solitary, quiet, and sedentary part of the process, which is what turns off a lot of kids. After all, raising children to be excited about reading is almost as important as teaching them to read in the first place.
Here are seven ways to trick your child into reading.

  1. Letter lottery: ask little kids to find the letters in the names of family members wherever you go. At the breakfast table, on the back of a cereal box (even on the boxes of rocks and twig cereal), or on street signs. If they’re older, have them read the entire box to you, or read six traffic or store signs as you do errands.
  2. Treasure hunt: write clues on pieces of paper, each leading to the next clue. For the pre-literate, draw (or cut out of a magazine) a picture of where the clue is hidden. If you hide a clue next to a lamp write the letter “L” next to the picture. Bonus points for doing 26 clues in alphabetical order.
  3. Balanced reading: time your child to see how long they can read standing on one foot (or hanging upside down from the sofa). Can they balance and concentrate at the same time? After, have them repeat what they read. Award a prize. Yes, bribery works.
  4. The write story: Take three pieces of paper and fold them in half so you now have a blank, six-page book in your hands. Have your child write – or tell – a story about the best and/or worst thing that happened today. Illustrate with drawings or cutouts from magazines. Have extended bedtime reading with this extra picture book.
  5. Literally speaking: Tell a classic story over dinner but make a rule that a new character must be added. The Three Little Pigs? Add a giraffe! Or mix and match: Tell Little Red Riding Hood but add someone from The Three Little Pigs!
  6. Write a book review: This is longer term, but setting up a blog and writing parent-child reviews and creating your own rating system is an on-going family project that has reading built in as a bonus. Or submit to sites that award kids, like this one.
  7. Lights! Camera! Action! Read a book and then make a movie about it. Upload to youtube.

To a lot of children, sitting in a chair and staring at a book is about as fun as eating rocks and twig cereal. Listening to audio books, reading comics in a bubble bath, or making cootie catchers can sweeten the deal and get kids excited about reading and turn them into book lovers in the end. And after you’ve tricked your kids to read, treat yourself, because you’ll have deserved it.
Now you have Seven Ways to Trick Your Child into Reading.

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