Get Young Readers Motivated to Learn
- What: Reading Rewards for Kids
- When: 4 years and up
- Why: Build confidence, increase literary skills
- Where: At home
We love books, which means we love reading. In our house, we believe in the benefits of reading out loud to kids. We’ve been reading to our kids since they were born, with board books progressing to interactive books and picture books. At some point between ages 4 and 6, our kids get ready to start practicing reading out loud.
I can’t overestimate the importance of this skill. Not only does it promote good literacy abilities that will last a lifetime, but it helps kids build reading confidence and develop a lifelong love of reading. I take a trolley to the library because my tote bags and backpacks can’t carry all the books my kids check out. (Full disclosure: our local library has a fifty book limit and we have been known to reach that more than once.)
So when my kids get ready, I want to encourage them to read out loud. I don’t care about the recipient. It can be the family pet or a houseplant. We have a couple different strategies in place, so my kids beg to read more.
Reading Rewards: When my kids get ready to try reading on their own, we reward their efforts. Much like the purple box for kindness and potty training charts, I keep a small stash of items to motivate them to read. It’s been different for each kid. One child collected sticker packets for his sticker books. Another wanted baby food and diapers for her doll. The third loves little cars, animal erasers, and squishy animals. You can set the reward level to match your child’s abilities. For us, it’s one reward per book read out loud, and the books change as they get older and better at reading.
Screen Time: We also encourage reading out loud by pairing it with screen time. When kids play video games, they have to read any printed text out loud. Not only does this ensure they understand everything on the screen, but it helps build reading skills beyond the book format. We originally required this exercise so younger siblings could understand the game. But it works as well for one kid as it does for multiples.
All three of our kids read on their own every night for the sheer joy of it. I doubt our strategies had much effect on their innate joy of reading, but I love that we supported them and made this essential life skill rewarding.