A Dose of Dijana: How to Motivate Kids & YA to Read

My family is a reading family.

Everyone reads – and you can find books in every room. Seriously.

Actually, we may have so many books together as a family, I’m afraid that having a single bookcase is pointless now. We’d need a whole wall in at least a couple of rooms to make sure we can display every single book we own.

To me, reading was something that came naturally. Something like breathing or eating. No one ever needed to say – Go to your room and read.

I just… read by default.

I’ve dedicated months and maybe even years of my life to reading. My relationship with books started even before I could read myself – others were reading to me.

My library card number has always been one-digit – I used to be among the first ones to renew my membership each January. Even now, I spend a good chunk of my free time reading.

But I grew up in a different time – I’m a millennial, born in the early 90’s.

We’re the last generation that grew up without laptops, tablets, smartphones, and a decent Internet connection. We’ve also been privileged to grow up without the oh-so-many distractions of the sweet, sweet online world.

I didn’t have to resist YouTube or Snapchat as a kid.

And it seems like today’s parents are facing quite the challenge.

How do you convince a ten-year-old that Narnia is more fun than Minecraft? How do you explain to a twelve-year-old that War Horse isn’t only about some horse?

And how on Earth do you convince a fifteen-year-old that reading Harry Potter is just as cool as Snapchat filters?

Well, there may be a few ways to convert a young non-reader into a book lover that don’t include taking away the phone. (something that never works in the long run)

Leave books around

This seemed to work out just fine for me. Since there were always a lot of books around, I’d always just pick one and start reading.

There – it’s that simple!

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I remember how curious I’d get to peek inside every single book lying around; I’d often end up reading multiple books at the same time.

Surround them with books. Make books something they can access by default – and not only at school.

Read from an early age

You don’t have to wait until your child is old enough to read by themselves to encourage reading as a habit.

Well, you probably don’t have to read to an unborn baby – unless you want to, which is totally fine – but usually, book lovers are raised, not born.

It’s never too early to start.

Picture books for toddlers are an awesome start and may help with their cognitive skills. Interactive baby books –  you know, the ones where you press the cow and it goes Mooo! Who’d say no to that?!

Oh, and how could I forget – bedtime stories! Bedtime stories are the moments where you’re not only raising a future keen reader – you’re also bonding and creating some long-lasting memories.

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Help them find their genre

Sometimes, kids don’t read simply because they don’t like the books they’ve read so far. Forcing a ten-year-old to love and appreciate The Little Prince just as much as you do might backfire in more ways than one.

Offer something that’s fun for them. Get them excited about what they’ll learn. Make reading an adventure!

Some kids also don’t really like reading fiction – same as with adults really. Try offering them some non-fiction books suitable for their age. Think world records, weirdest nature facts, dinosaurs, simple experiments they can do at home, and so on.

Audiobooks count as well!

Word has it that audiobooks are a life-savior on those really long car trips. I’m personally not a big fan of audiobooks – but then again, I’m not a fan of Kindle either, so who am I to tell?

Also, audiobooks are probably the best choice when the young reader feels intimidated by long books. But seriously now, how much would you miss out if you haven’t read The Lord of The Rings simply because it was too big when you first saw it?

Lead by example

Whenever I see parents complaining that their kids “don’t do much” and are “glued to their screens” I’m really tempted to ask what they – the parents – do in their free time. Are they readers? Do they have a hobby or something?

Kids see – and then kids do.

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While it’s true that some kids are just more inclined towards reading than others, it’s very likely that if you’re reading, your child will be reading – without you ever having to do something about it.

And if you’re an avid reader but your child would still rather try out the dog-ears filter than read, keep going. Promote reading by being a reader yourself – and you never know, the day may come when Instagram is no longer as fun as a good book!


To all the bookworms with kids, what’s your experience been like? Are your kids avid readers?

If not, how did you start reading as a child?

Next time, I’ll be doing a book review!         

Is there anything you’d like me to talk about? Leave us a comment – and let us know! We’d love to hear back from our readers!

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One comment

  1. Some great ideas Dijana. I think it’s so important to get kids to read, and leading by example is probably the best way. It reminds me of a meme I saw once – a mother and child both reading and another both on a tablet. The mother with the tablet was asking the reading mother how she managed to get the child to read books.

    I don’t have any kids but if I did, I think I would be absolutely devastated if he or she didn’t read!

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