getting kids reading

Setting Up Routines at Home

Routines for Reading at Home

School is starting and usually there is a month of adjustment for both teacher and children doing things like assessing each child in a variety of subjects, getting into the rhythm of classroom routines and behavior norms, finding out how each child learns best, making new friends, and reviewing academic material from last year. It’s not a time where new learning is emphasized (except if your child is lucky enough to “loop” with his or her same class from last year in which case it’s business as usual).

So, as a parent, this is a good time to start setting routines for good academics at home. Make sure there is a good spot for homework, even if it’s the 2-minutes-a-day kind and more importantly, set a time of day when the homework gets done. We actually set different schedules and spots for different subjects: math is when the kids get home from school concurrent with a snack; spelling lists review are a parent/child pair that happens when we go upstairs to start our bedtime routine and is more successful when the child writes as opposed to recites aloud (a fun way to write is on the windows with dry erase pens or on a white board); reading is at night right before lights out and usually in bed, cozy and together.

But … WHAT IF your child does not enjoy reading? WHAT IF, your child hates to read aloud but is at the stage where it’s necessary to make sure the words are decoded correctly? WHAT IF, reading is torture and you, the parent, do all the reading to your child? WHAT IF, it seems as if your child will NEVER read for pleasure?

I think that this is a phase that all parents go through with their children and it can be longer or shorter based on the child. The key here is to try, and try again. Mix it up. Try new things. Don’t give up. If you keep at it, your child will reach that magic threshold when your child will be reading when other things were supposed to happen. Like going to sleep.

Here are some ideas to get your child reading:

  • Let your child choose a book from a pile that you select and can summarize to him or her. (To summarize, just read the book flap or back cover). Use your child’s teacher, librarians, peer recommendations, and blogs to find ideas for books that might interest your child. If you need ideas for blogs, please check out my blog roll for Children’s Lit.
  • Graphic novels are a legitimate choice! There are great ones for both girls and boys.
  • Read together, especially the first chapter to get your child engaged in the story. Once your child is engaged, take turns reading, either page by page or chapter by chapter.
  • A trip to the library or bookstore should be fun and frequent!
  • Books on tape are also a good choice and ebooks as apps are another way to do this.
  • Non fiction on topics of interest are also great: UFOs, bugs, disgusting things, mummies … find a topic that fascinates!
  • Magazines count! Get a subscription to their favorite one.
  • Make your own book on tape.
  • Create reading time for the whole family to do together.
  • Motivate with a reward system to get over the hump.

What is working for you? I’d love your suggestions for motivating your children to read! More ideas to get kids reading here.

p.s. And with regard to math, September is a good time to review math facts from the end of last year. Our favorite way is to play 10 minutes of math games a day. I have a list of games here.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Nice article! My older daugter is a magazine fan, she loves receiving her magazines in the mailbox and read them carefully.
    there is one more thing that may help your children to love reading, it is if you are reading too. I mean if your children always see you carrying and reading books, I think that they might want to do the same…
    Pierre (from France- sorry for my bad english!)

  2. Great post and I agree with the above comment – We get American Girl Magazine and Muse – there is something special about getting mail. How about having family members send books (you can even make a wishlist on Amazon) to your children or having them pass along outgrown favorites.

  3. Belinda

    Thanks for the tips Mia. My boy loves Sports Illustrated for Kids and National Geographic for Kids. He’s also hooked on the Ranger’s Apprentice book series. In the 6th grade now, he’s a little older than your normal Pragmatic Mom kid demographic, but he’s a good example of a young reader after grade 5.

    • To Belinda,
      Love your ideas for magazines and your magazine choices! Thanks for sharing your great tips to get boys reading! My kids also love the National Geographic for Kids.

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