Reading is fundamental, that we know.  It’s important as a skill because it is in every aspect of life.  From reading for fun to knowing what a contract says, a person needs to know how to read.  So how do you get children interested in reading, especially when videos and games are flooding the market?  The answer:  You start early, then continue reading with them as they grow.

    I spend many Saturday nights reading to my grandsons over the internet.  We get on Hangouts for about an hour, catch up on their week, then I’ll read two stories: one for the younger one, and one for the older one.  The boys love Storytime with Nana!


Where's Spot?

     Most toddler’s first experience with books is either board books of one word with a picture or nursery rhymes.  But there are so many others!  The Spot series by Eric Hill is a board book with hidden flaps to make readers think ahead.  Toddlers love Spot and can relate to him throughout the books. 

     The Little Blue Truck series by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry is another series of short, easy stories that toddler love!  The blue truck is friends with a variety of farm animals that have some fun adventures, each reinforcing friendship.

Little Blue Truck

4 to 7 years

     As children move up into the beginning reader stage, there is a wide variety of books available.  From Dr. Suess Beginning Readers through actual school readers, children can find some fun series. 

Berenstain Bears

     San Berenstain’s Berenstain Bears Series is still a number one best seller for this age group.  Filled with fun adventures, relatable characters, and things to learn, these books go from very simple beginning readers to a more advanced level for 8- and 9-year-olds.

     The How To Catch series by Andy Elkerton is also great for this age group.  It’s a wonderful beginning reader/picture book combo.

How To Catch A Unicorn

7 to 9 years

     By the time children are 7 or 8 years old, they’ve entered the Chapter Book phase.*  This is where they also develop what genres they like to read, but their reading skills are still developing and their attention span isn’t ready for long books.  These books are great for family reading time before bed.  The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne and The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner are still some of the best-selling series for children at this age.  The stories are adventurous, the characters are relatable, and the plotline is set for just this age group.

Magic Treehouse
Boxcar Children

     *NOTE:  Have a child who doesn’t want to read?  I did. He had trouble sounding out words, and didn’t like pages of lined with them.  Try switching to comics and graphic novels.  Books like Primer by Thomas Krazewski and Sonic the Hedgehog by Ian Flynn are perfect to grab a child’s attention, and Artemis Fowl Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer will help the 9-10 readers improve their reading skills.

Sonic the Hedgehog
Artemis Fowl

8 to 11 years

     By the time children have reached the 9 to 10 age, they’re ready for some real meat in their books.  Imaginations are thriving, reading skills have improved, and they are just starting to analyze what they’re reading.  They’re starting to think like teenagers rather than children.  This “tween” stage is important.  It’s a good time to read a book with your child and discuss what is going on.  Makes for great conversations.  (My son wanted to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I didn’t know what it was about, so I read it with him.)

Last Kids on Earth
Animorphs 1

     Books like The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, Animorphs by K.A. Applegate (yes, it’s on the rise again), and The Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson are chosen the top of the list by this age group, although girls might prefer Emily Windsnap series by Liz Kessler, The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis, or Pippa Park by Erin Yun.  Yes, this is the age where boys and girls often like to read different themes.

6th Grade Ninja/Emily Windsnap
Secret Lake/Pippa Park


     Between 10 and 12, youth often prefer moving into novels.  These are just as entertaining, but they’re longer and deeper.  Think The Magic School Bus meets Lord of the Rings. Many children, particularly boys, will stay in the shorter chapter phase, which is fine.  Girls tend to lean towards novel length books faster than boys do.  Genres become more defined at this stage as well.  Books like Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland, The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J. Scott Savage, and Asteria: The Discovery by Jan M. Hill are all part of this age bracket.  Yes, I had to plug my own book!

Wings of Fire
Lost Wonderfland Diaries
Asteria: The Discovery

     Don’t stop reading there.  By the time readers hit 14, they’re ready for Young Adult and New Adult books.  The books will get more interesting for you as a parent as well.  At any rate, keep reading!  Whether for knowledge or fun, reading is a never-dying art.

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   Every parent knows two things:  Reading is an essential part of life and not everyone likes to read the same things.  As a parent who loves to read, I wanted my children to also love the activity.  My eldest fell right into it.  He enjoys many of the same books I do, and he can usually be found with some type of book in his hands.  My youngest, while not as enthusiastic as his elder brother, also enjoys reading.  He loves getting into fantasy adventures, ghost stories, and lately, his table-top gaming books. My middle son was an entirely different story.

    My middle son hated to read.  The letters didn’t make sense.  The words were foreign.  His attention deficit disorder didn’t help the matter any.   He really enjoyed stories, though.  As a young child, he’d memorize his favorite ones by associating the words to the pictures.  So much so that he was able to convince his first-grade teacher that he’d learned the words to the short stories they read all week long.  By Wednesday, he already knew which words went with which picture.  Fooled her!

    As I took matters into my own hands, I had to find a way to teach my son to read.  We began with those incredibly boring, short books just to get him started with sounding out words.  As he learned the words, I hid the pictures.  Soon he was doing much better, but still didn’t like to read.  We replaced reading books with comic books.  Now I had his attention.  Yes, my son learned to read with comic books.  DuckTales was his favorite.

    Push forward a few years.  He’s now in 7th grade, and he’s failing English.  Why?  Because he’s supposed to be reading a book all week long and writing down what he read.  He wouldn’t do it.  His excuse?  By the time he got to the bottom of the page, he forgot what was at the top.  Reality, he just didn’t find the genre that he liked, and being stubborn, wouldn’t listen to me or his brother as we suggested stories we knew he’d like.

    This is the situation that brought Asteria to life.  My son loved playing Dungeons and Dragons with us, so I knew he would get captivated by being plunged into a story revolving around that.  I set my hand and wrote a story about my son and his best friend being launched into a D&D-like adventure because of the actions of his friend’s little sister.  It worked.  He couldn’t put the manuscript down and re-read it several times.  He found his genre.  As a result, he started reading other books as well.  Bigger books still scared him, so we would sit before bedtime and read them together.  He’s still not an avid reader, but he knows what he enjoys reading now.

     Do you have a child similar to mine?  What are some ways to you can instill a love of reading in them?  Here are a few ways you can try.

  1. Start reading early. Introduce books to your toddler.  Read to them.  Like many parents, I would read my children a bedtime story.  I don’t know why, but reading before bed seems to be the perfect time.
  2. Introduce your child to many types of books. Visit the library or bookstore often.  Not everyone is an adventurer.  Perhaps they like mystery, poetry, non-fiction facts, or any of the other books available.  Make sure there are a plethora of reading material around for your child to explore.
  3. Subscribe to a magazine for them. Highlights for Children, Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, Muse, Zoobooks, Jack & Jill, and many other magazines are available for children from the ages of 1 through 10.
  4. Set up a time to read. Perhaps you can have a reading time in the morning if you’re homeschooling.  Set time aside at night when the TV, video games, and phones are turned off (yours, too.) and the family reads a story together.
  5. Encourage your child to read out loud. Beverly Swanson, in her post Encouraging Your Child To Read, mentions that you should listen to your child read and praise him for his success.  Maybe ready every other page or every other chapter with him.
  6. Give your child writing materials. She can’t find a book that interests her this week?  Well, reading and writing go hand-in-hand.  Encourage her to write her own story.  The sky is the limit.  Don’t focus on spelling or vocabulary or grammar.  Just let her write.  Look up story starters on the internet to help her get started.
  7. Be an example. As in everything else, children follow what they see their parents do (not necessarily what they say).  If your child sees you reading in your spare time, they’ll do the same.
  8. If your child is still resisting reading, eliminate possible physical or developmental issues. ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism (even extremely slightly), and poor vision are only a few of the possible medical or developmental issues that can cause a child to dislike reading.  Caught early, you and your child’s doctor or counselor can devise a plan to help him dive into the reading world.

     These are just a few suggestions.  There are probably a hundred more.  Reality is, with a little effort, your child can enjoy reading as much as you do.