7 Ways to Encourage Young People to Read More

For book lovers, one of the greatest gifts they can give to younger generations is a love of reading, but how do you help to encourage school age kids to read when there are so many distractions and other pursuits to occupy their time? Here are seven ways to help nurture a love for reading in young people.

1. Realize Kids Read More than We Think so Cut Them Some Slack

Kids today, they just don’t read like they used to! That’s the prevailing myth surrounding how children aren’t seen cracking the spine of a book the way they might have been in years gone by. However,  it’s a criticism that misses the mark.

Kids do read, and maybe now more than ever. They read Facebook. They read Tumblr. They read the storylines in their favorite games. They read news sites about current affairs, celebrities or their favorite sports. They read in school. They read at their computers at home. They read, read, read all day long.

So, yes, do encourage kids to read, but don’t be so quick to judge if reading isn’t their first choice.

2. Don’t  Be A Book Snob: Ulysses Or Harry Potter — It’s All Good

We have to dispel the notion that there is literary fiction which is meant to be good for us while genre fiction will rot our brains. For the literarti, this divide may serve them well, but book lovers needn’t look at things so black and white.

While it may be true that some literary fiction gives a certain kind of reading experience that can allow a reader to stretch themselves, genre fiction doesn’t necessarily prevent that either. Indeed, good genre fiction, like any good story, should take you on a challenging journey that broadens your mind while enriching you.

Let young people decide what books they want to read and trust that, if their love of books proves strong enough, they will get to the classics and the epics and the sheer must-reads in their own way, in their own time.

3. Find The Connections

Today’s world is, in some senses at least, more connected than ever. Young people enjoy a transmedia experience where they look for the ways in which new things fit in with their online lives.

Reading doesn’t need to be any different from that. Indeed, authors and publishing houses are spending a great deal of time on their social media presence. For instance, creating Twitter accounts for their characters, or making movie-trailer videos for the books on YouTube and other video sharing sites.

As an example, here’s a great trailer for the book “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater:

We can entice more young readers in by showing them the cross-platform content, and letting them no that reading is no longer a static medium but one that is at the leading edge of transmedia innovation.

4. Find Reading Communities

There are many sub-communities across the Internet and in real life that can be supportive and interesting for any book lover. For young people, finding places to talk about books might mean their going to Instagram or Tumblr, or using sites like Goodreads and Wattpad, but know that there are thriving book communities out there that can be wonderful places for young readers to talk about what books they loved, what books they didn’t like and find more books to feed their passion.

5. Encourage Kids to Take Reading Breaks

Ever done squats as part of your exercise regime? A few sets are great for toning up and testing your leg strength — but you wouldn’t do that one exercise non-stop for an hour, would you? After just five minutes (or less) your legs would burn, your muscles would cramp and you’d quickly have to give up. No, we wouldn’t exercise without putting in breaks for recovery. Reading should be no different.

We need to teach kids to pace their reading and take regular breaks not just so they don’t get fatigued but also so they can properly appreciate and think about what they’ve just read. This kind of structure can be useful not just to encourage more reading, but will help preserve a child’s eye health and keep them reading unaided for longer.

6. Encourage Kids to Read More than One Book at a Time

This might be a controversial one, but to extend the exercise analogy a little further: if you were to do a few sets of leg exercises back to back, you’d quickly fatigue those muscles and leave yourself unable to carry on with the exercises. However, if you were to mix two different body groups together, say chest and legs, switching between those regions for every other exercise, the rest would probably keep you alert and engaged for longer, and ultimately probably able to achieve more.

If we want kids to stay reading for longer, then, we might suggest encouraging them to read more than one book at a time. A good mix can be one fiction book and one non-fiction book. When they get tired on one book, they can swap to another. They will eventually feel fatigue, no doubt about it, but they may be able to carry on longer than they would have been able to by sticking to one book alone. This also gives them an alternative if they just don’t feel like reading a particular book on any given day, encouraging them to stick to their reading habit.

7. Find Different Ways of Reading

There are now a lot more accessible ways to read a book. While audiobooks have been around for a long time, in the digital age where people have smartphones with an Internet connection, audiobooks are useful like never before. They also encourage reading that is, in some sense, less taxing and so audiobooks might be better for less confident readers so they can continue to cultivate their love of books even as they work on improving their reading skills.

Young people may also enjoy reading on their smartphones or tablets using things Kindle or Wattpad. As parents and guardians, we can encourage them to experiment to see whether digital media gives them a better experience or whether they value paperbacks and hardbacks as a respite from their digital lives. It’s going to be down to personal taste, and that’s another perk of helping nurture a young person’s love of reading: seeing what form their reading habits take.

If you would like to get free books to encourage your children to read, hop on over to our Care2 list of places to download free legal books you for your smartphone or computer.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago


Rosemary Diehl
Rosemary Diehl4 years ago

Reading is the one thing that has kept me sane. I was never encouraged to read. My mother could barely take time to flip through a magazine like Look or Life. My dad read reports and other business papers. When I was 12 a friend gave my dad "Born Free" and "Living Free" and it opened the world for me. I am not sure he ever read either one

Julia Oleynik
Julia Oleynik4 years ago

Thank you for actual information:)

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Love reading.Good post,thanks for sharing

J C Brou
J C Brou4 years ago

thanks for some common sense

Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.4 years ago

My daughter's an a vid reader, and one of my grandchildren too.I began reading to my daughter before sleeping from 8 months,my granddaughter too....with the help of a gnome named Panseco

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

It's not easy encouraging kids to read. Some valid points here though.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

It's not easy encouraging kids to read. Some valid points here though.

JL A4 years ago

good ideas

Muff-Anne York-Haley

My girls love to read, so I wa lucky, I never had that problem:))