20 tips to make reading fun at any age

Some kids are natural bookworms, others would rather do almost anything else than open a book. Here’s how to inspire a love of reading in your child – whatever their age.

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The benefits of reading are almost endless – from inspiring imaginations to building vocabulary and brain power, a good book is a great habit to get into. And now, when other forms of entertainment are not available, it’s a great way to pass the time for adults and children alike.

But what if your child is more reluctant reader than bookworm? Try our tips to help them discover the joy of reading…

Babies and toddlers

First words, colour and shape identification, and counting skills are all enhanced by sharing books at this stage.

  • Use fabric baby books and large colourful board-page books. Let babies handle books like toys so they get used to them.
  • Describe pictures to your child using lots of interesting language (talk about the colours, what people in the pictures are doing). Hearing different sounds and expressions will help their development.
  • Reading a book just before nap times or after bath time is a great way to wind down, and introduces them to the routine of reading at bedtime.
  • Encourage your baby to look, point and touch the book so they experience different sensations, particularly touch and feel books with their different textures.
  • You don’t need lots of different books – babies can learn from repetition, so you can read them the same books over and over.

Kids under five

Picture books with funny stories or rhymes encourage children to have fun with their own talking skills.

  • Young children look at the same stories over and over again so there’s no need to buy lots of books. However, if this gets boring for you, then use the pictures to make up your own story to surprise and entertain your toddler.
  • Stories are useful for exploring new experiences – starting school, being ill, getting a new baby brother or sister – and are a great way to talk to them about things going on in their lives.
  • If you have the space, create a storybook corner where they enjoy being. Along with making a bedtime story a nightly habit, it will help them to make reading part of their daily lives now and in the future.
  • Toddlers love to be in charge, so let your little one choose the books they have for their bedtime story.
  • Try wordless picture books, and encourage your child to use their imagination to create a story to go with the images.

Children under 10

Children’s reading skills develop at a wide range of ages so don’t push your child too hard.

  • ‘First reader’ books have large type, short chapters and lots of pictures so they’re not too daunting when your child is learning to read.
  • Get your child to read a bit of an easy book, then you can read a chapter of a more ‘difficult’ book to keep things varied.
  • If your child is tired, use storytime to have a chat. It’s still quality time together.
  • Books aren’t everything – comics, poetry, non-fiction and graphic novels all still count as reading! Let your child explore different forms to find what they more enjoy.
  • Keep characters alive for kids – by asking what Harry Potter or Gangsta Granny would do in a particular situation you and the family are in.

Over 10s and teenagers

Even for kids who aren’t bookworms, reading offers valuable downtime.

  • Magazines, novels, fact books, comics – ANY reading is good!
  • Audiobooks and storytelling podcasts are excellent for children who aren’t keen on sitting down and reading printed pages.
  • Try a virtual book club – reading might become more palatable if it comes with a promise of some online social time with friends.
  • Start your kids on book series – if they like the first one, hopefully they’ll be hooked and want to read the rest!
  • If they have younger siblings, encourage your older kids to take over the bedtime story.

Share your tips

What do you do to get your kids reading? We’d love to hear your ideas.