31 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged in Reading

March was not only my birthday month (🥳) and Women’s History Month, it was also #NationalReadingMonth. Every day last month, I posted videos on social sharing 31 ways to keep kids engaged in reading. I’ve compiled it into a 14-min video that you can watch here, or by clicking the image below. 

1. Show your interest in reading and share a book you used to love as a child

Model the behavior you want to see. What book did you love as a child? Share that with the little one(s) in your life and even read it to them. I loved The Babysitter’s (and Little Sister’s) Club series. What about you?

2. Do read-alouds in the classroom 

This improves kids’ comprehension skills and vocabulary levels because they’re being introduced to more words. Reading aloud also motivates kids to want to read.

3. Find books that align with the child’s interest(s) 

Does the child have a particular hobby or interest? Find books that align with that. They’ll be more susceptible to being engaged or inspired if it’s something they already take a liking to.

4. Pick books around a particular theme, holiday, or awareness month

For example, March is #WomensHistoryMonth and #InternationalWomensDay is March 8. Pick books that celebrate the dynamic strides we have made. Here are the books that were mentioned:

📚 Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

📚 Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison

📚 Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen

📚 In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

💐 Let’s celebrate the women in our lives who inspire us to be 1% better each day! Tag them in the comments below and give them their flowers.

5. Consider reading my work! 😘 

🎉 March 12 was my birthday and it would mean the world to me if you visit our site and support my work.

💛 For those who don’t know, I write about #selflove. My mission is to inspire kids (and adults) to overcome their insecurities so they can share their unique gifts with the world.

If that resonates with you, head over to www.iamuniquebrand.com to help spread the message of self-love.

6. Write a letter to your favorite author/illustrator ✍🏾 

Young readers might develop a love for certain authors and illustrators. Why not write a letter to them to show appreciation for their work? Authors/illustrators typically have their own websites with their contact info. You can find their email and mailing address through their website or reach out to them on social media for that information.

In the letter, share what you love about their work, your favorite parts in a specific story, and what you’re looking forward to seeing from them. I’m sure they’d love the gesture. 😉

Have you ever written a letter to your favorite author or illustrator?

7. Introduce kids to book series

Buying books within a series can help to create anticipation for the child because they’re already familiar with the characters and it also takes the guesswork out of what book to buy/borrow next.

What were some series you were into as a child?

8. Create a reading nook in your home

Designate a corner in your home as the “reading corner.” Fill it with books, comfy pillows, blankets, a canopy…have fun with it! Make it  an inviting place to dive into a few stories before bedtime or throughout the day.

9. Host a book club

I got this tip from Charisse Sims, who is a PBS early learning champion, fellow children’s book author, and mom of 6.

Host a book club with your kids and their friends and celebration the completion of the book with a book-related game night or watching the adaptation of the book if there is one (think movie, play, etc.). This helps build engagement because it creates another opportunity for kids to connect with the storyline and its characters. 

10. Volunteer at organizations that promote literacy

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, consider volunteering to read aloud with @readlead1. Read Lead helps to foster the love for reading, leadership, and community. If you’re not local to Los Angeles, research programs that prioritize literacy, especially in the summer months when learning loss tends to occur.

11. Attend a book festival

Book festivals are great because you get to meet your favorite authors, discover new ones, and connect with fellow #booklovers.

Speaking of book festivals, we are attending the largest book festival in the nation. If you’re local to the Los Angeles area, come on out and join us at the LA Times Festival of Books happening April 20-21!  Our booth is near the main stage this year so we’re looking forward to meeting even more of you!

For more details and to view the lineup, head to their event page. Hope to see you there!

12. Ask open-ended questions while reading aloud

Kids have a short attention span. Every few pages (or paragraphs, depending on the length of the book) stop and ask questions to include the child in the story. Ask them what’s going on in the picture or ask what they think will happen next. This can increase their active participation while reading.

13. Gift more books!

Make book gifting a part of your routine. What’s the last book you’ve gifted someone?

14. Host a book exchange

Have each participating child donate a book they love and put it in the book pile. Each kid should select a book that piques their interest and the person who put the book in the pile can share why they personally love the book. You can do this with as many kids as you want - the more, the merrier!

15. Encourage kids to read outside of books

From street signs, to instructional manuals, to restaurant menus - reading is an essential part of our lives. Show kids this by introducing them to reading options off the pages 😉.

16. Write your own story

This is a great activity where you can have kids write the story they’d love to see in the world. Shout out to my 3rd grade teacher, Miss Gadbury, who had us write our own stories for a class project. 

17. Attend author events

Authors often do multi-city tour stops during their book launch(es). Follow them on social media to see if they’re stopping by a city near you and go. There’s nothing like being able to meet the author in the flesh and hear first-hand what led them to write that body of work.

I’ll never forget when a mom said her daughter was shocked to hear that she had met me because she thought “all authors were dead.” 😮 

I couldn’t believe it! But come to think of it, I didn’t really think about the “who” behind the words I grew to know and love as a child. I can only imagine how much more engaged a child might be if they’re able to connect the creator to the creation.  

18. Get a library card for you and your little one

Most communities offer free library access so you want to take advantage of that. Also check with your local library to see what kind of reading programs they offer, essentially during the months when kids are out of school.

19. Book an author to speak at your school or organization 

Tip 17 was about you going to them; in this tip, consider getting them to come to you! Invite an author to speak at your school or organization so they can share the inspiration behind their book and the importance of reading (and writing 😉).

20. Establish a reading routine  

Whether it’s reading a few pages before school or reading a chapter before bed, creating healthy habits around reading will increase the chances that kids stay motivated to keep up that habit.

21. Write short notes for kids to read

You could leave a note in their lunch box, stick a post-it of affirmations on their bathroom mirror, or plan a scavenger hunt with clues written out on an index card. Sprinkling notes throughout the day can help keep them engaged.

22. Consider monthly reading subscriptions

This can help supplement what kids are learning at home and school.

Afterall, “Hooked on Phonics work[ed] for me!” 😂

23. Read to your child everyday

Doing this boosts the child’s language development skills. But don’t take my word for it, look at little Caleb of @brilliantlittleleaders!

24. Host a Read-A-Thon

This will help encourage a love for reading while raising money for the school. We love a win-win moment!

25. Pair stories with an activity or experience 

Here’s an example: In @Luvvie's children’s book, “@LittleTroubleMaker Makes a Mess,” Little Luvvie wants to make jollof rice. After reading the book, you could take the child to a restaurant and try jollof rice, or you can make some at home together.

If the child is reading a historical book or biography, you could visit a museum related to the book’s content. The next time your child selects a book to read, think of a related activity to do together when they’re done. The idea is to make things more tangible for them to spark a deeper connection with the story.

26. Start ‘em young!

It’s never too early to start learning! Make it a family affair to get kids engaged in reading. Love this moment @jonathansingletary, @elainewlteroth, and their son

27. Play with books

Incorporate books into playtime. I used to line of my book collection on the floor and invite my sister into my own bookstore.

How did you “play” with books?

28. Keep books everywhere

Aside from the bookshelf, store books on the nightstand, in the car, and in the bathroom as reminders to keep reading at the forefront of the mind.

29. Read in nature 

Studies show that reading in nature improves your overall cognitive health, reduces stress, and improves your mood. It doesn’t hurt to have a change of scenery every now and then!

30. Listen to audiobooks

Some people are auditory learners and prefer listening to books vs. reading them. This is another way to help kids stay engaged.

31. Remember that reading is fundamental!

We’ve made it to the final tip in this series! Reading is a fundamental part of our everyday lives. Let me know which tip(s) you’re going to implement for either yourself or the little one(s) in your life. 

Happy Reading!