How to Really Motivate Children to Read

how to motivate children to read

It isn’t hard to figure out how to motivate children to read. All we have to do is think about how we read!

what really motivates children to read

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Think About What Really Motivates Children to Read

Have you ever been part of a book club where you were given a quiz at the start of every meeting so the facilitator could check that you read the book and understood it? Ya, me neither!

Do you like to choose the types of books you read and do you choose different types of books depending on your need or mood? Ya, me too!

Have you ever read a book just for pleasure or to relax or for pure entertainment value only? Ya, me too!

Would you like to read books that were boring or too difficult for you all the time because you thought reading was supposed to be something you had to work at ALL. THE. TIME? Ya, me neither!

How to Motivate Children to Read

The things that motivate children to read are the same things that motivate adults to read:

-choice in what to read

-a large book selection

-book recommendations from others

-reading to learn

-reading to be entertained or for enjoyment

-reading to connect to the author or characters

-reading to connect with the world around us

-reading to connect with other readers

-reading to learn about ourselves

How to Check for Reading Comprehension Without Using Quizzes

It’s important that we know if our children are comprehending what they read but comprehension can be checked in many ways besides using a quiz or worksheet.

  • ask your child to tell you about the story and ask guiding or probing questions as they do: “How did the characters in the story solve their problem?” “What was the author trying to teach us with this story?” Did the characters change throughout the story?”
  • draw a picture or write a short response to the story.
  • complete a book review along with your child’s recommendation to others
  • act out the story
  • rewrite the story with a different ending

“When I say to a parent, _read to a child_, I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.”

How to Motivate Children to Read with Choice

It’s important to expose our children to quality literature but not all the books they read have to be classics. They can choose from other genres: joke books, graphic novels, picture books, stat books, biographies of sports figures, and funny series books to name a few.

Try not to judge a book or worry that some books aren’t “real books.”

Think about your child, even your young child as an independent reader, and begin treating her that way. Keep these Reader’s Rights in mind when working with your child.

Wigfield and Guthrie (1997) documented that students who are intrinsically motivated spend 300% more time reading than students who have low intrinsic motivation for reading. Compared to 10 other motivations, intrinsic motivation for reading was most highly associated with whether or not students read widely and frequently on their own accord.” – Reading Rockets

Reading time should be pleasant and stress-free. If you were reading knowing that when you completed a chapter someone was going to hand you a quiz or worksheet, you may not be able to immerse yourself in the book naturally; more likely, you would probably be reading to find answers to questions that you anticipate. 


Sometimes boys need special motivation! 


There is a time to teach our children how to read for a purpose or to find answers from the text but that would be explicitly taught and explained at the start of the lesson. For example, during a science lesson, you would start by saying, “Today we are reading to find out how pollution impacts wild birds in our city. While you are reading I want you to look for clues that help us figure this out.”

In short, have fun with your child! Make reading such a natural thing in your home that when you plan your intentional lessons as we model for you in Chapter 10: Putting it All Together, you and your child will as comfortable as if you were snuggled under the covers reading Winnie-The-Pooh.

Read, read more, read more often! ~ Mary


What to Do When You Can’t Motivate Your Child to Read 

Maybe you are doing “all the right things” and your child still seems unmotivated and lacks confidence when reading. What then? Just keep reading and hoping for the best?

You may need to identify and pinpoint the specific areas he’s lacking skills. Children who are still struggling to gain fluency by the beginning of the third-grade level are typically missing some key skills and need direct intervention to get on track. It can seem daunting to know where to begin and waiting longer can result in delayed progress. I can help you determine the next steps that will help you help your child get over the hump.

Book a FREE consultation today. We’ll decide what plan and type of support are right for you how to motivate your child to reading success! 

One Time Consultation and Individualized Plan

  • 50-minute phone conference to discuss your concerns and the child’s background
  • Initial recommendations with follow up resources e-mailed to you
  • Analysis of child’s reading from video
  • Emailed detailed analysis with an individualized plan, attached resources and links as applicable
  • 4 week follow up email to check

Package Consultation and Individualized Plan

  • 50-minute initial phone conference to discuss your concerns and child’s background
  • Initial recommendations with follow up resources mailed to you
  • Analysis of child’s reading from video
  • Emailed detailed analysis with an individualized plan, attached resources and links as applicable
  • Weekly follow up email
  • Monthly phone conference at 4 weeks and 8 weeks

Questions? Email me at

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