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I am the mom of a nine-year-old boy who can’t keep his nose out of a book.
I’d like to attribute it all to my spectacular parenting (note the sarcasm), but in reality, it’s probably related to a bit of luck.
With that being said, I’m a mom that loves to read, and wanted my boys to find that love too.
Over the years my husband and I have done some things to encourage this love of reading in our son and it’s finally paying off.
He spent his entire summer flying through all seven of the Harry Potter books!
So how did we manage to raise a boy who loves to read??
Here are the ways we encouraged reading throughout the year.
Teach By Example
I feel the number one way to get your child to enjoy reading is to enjoy reading yourself.
I’ve always had books laying around, full bookshelves, and when I get some downtime you’ll find me with my own nose in a book.
My husband wasn’t as huge of a reader but did often enjoy a book, and enjoyed reading with our son.
For my son it’s a normal thing you do, it’s just as natural to us as flipping on the tv when you’re bored.
Keep Books Available
Just as I’ve always had bookshelves full of my books, we have bookshelves full of children’s books.
This doesn’t have to be expensive. You can borrow from the library, or as I love to do, scour goodwill and thrift shop bookshelves.
I hardly ever pay full price for a book but prefer to have them on my shelf where I can re-read them when the mood strikes.
Having a lot of books in the house your child will be more likely to pick one up when he’s bored.
Make Reading A Family Thing
We were never very good with reading before bed, but we did read together often. We’d sit on the couch and flip through children’s books.
As he learned to read he would sit and read them to us.
As he grew older he and my husband started reading Captain Underpants. They’d take turns reading chapters and cracking up together.
He now sits and reads his little brother bedtime stories when he’ll cooperate. And the bookshelf of books I’ve been saving for him, as he’s starting to read some of my books, like Harry Potter, we can talk about them and share our favorite parts.
A photo of my then seven-year-old, reading to our dog.
Let Him Break The Rules
My son has an eight-thirty bedtime, but if he wants to read he can keep his lights on until nine. He almost always does this.
A few nights this summer as he was really into Harry Potter, I’d catch his lights on quite late.
As much as I should have stopped him, if we didn’t have plans the next day, I’d pretend not to notice.
I remember being his age and sneaking on the lights after my parents went to bed because the book was just too good to put down.
If he was that excited about a book that he just couldn’t stop, I don’t want to come between that.
Those are the moments you really learn to love reading. Those moments when the books just come alive and you have to see what happens next.
Now if it’s a school night I enforce the rules but weekends and summers, I’ll let him break the rules a bit.
Never Say No To A Book
I’ll tell my child no all day long to toys and games, but if he asks for a specific book, or to go book shopping, I never say no.
He loves silly comic books and Guinness World Record books. Some I wouldn’t necessarily consider true reading, but if he enjoys them, then I’m going to encourage him to continue reading in whatever form that comes in.
If he asks for a book I shop around online and order it. If he wants to go browse we’ll head to a used bookstore and see what he can find.
Limit Screen Time
I know this can be hard. Life is hectic and the kids tend to be quiet and easy when they are on their screens.
However limiting this time, allows them more time to find other creative ways to keep busy.
We had a screen free summer and I saw a huge change in my child’s habits. He played outside with the neighbor almost all day every day and then would spend his evenings with his nose in a book.
He was happier, less aggressive, and excited each day. It was a nice change.
Now I’m not going to pretend that our screen free summer didn’t arise out of my perfect parenting, but really because he got in trouble for breaking his tv screen. However, the consequences of a screen-free summer turned out to be less of a punishment and more of an eye-opening experience for both of us.
If you can stomach the first few weeks of “I’m bored” I’d highly recommend drastically limiting screen time, but thats another blog post.