How to Develop Your Kids’ Reading Habits
We know that getting kids to read for fun can be like pulling teeth. Especially when they have so many screens at their disposal and they spend all day reading at school, reading can often seem way more exhausting than relaxing.
But there are so many benefits when kids develop the habit of reading! They gain more knowledge, learn critical thinking skills, develop creativity and imagination, and improve their writing ability. And here are some benefits you might not even know about: reading can help kids become more empathetic, build better relationships, and boost their mental health and overall well-being.
So, how do you get your kids to pick up more books? Below, we’ll dive into how you can get your kids to read for fun — from free online resources, to fun new books for all ages, and even some ideas for creating a healthy reading schedule!
Free Online Resources to Help Your Kids Develop the Habit of Reading for Fun
1. Reading Websites
One way to help get them interested in reading for fun outside of school is to introduce them to free reading websites. These websites offer tons of kid-friendly content, from books to magazine articles with topics ranging from science to sports. They have something for everyone — even teens! Not only do they provide a great way to explore new genres, but they also make it easier for parents to monitor what their children are reading without having to buy a physical copy of the book every time. Plus, many of them also provide interactive features like quizzes and games, which can help keep kids engaged while they learn.
Books are still the best way for children to develop their reading skills, but free reading websites can be a great supplement and encourage kids who might not typically dive into a physical book. Websites like the ones below are just a few of the many that can help get your kids reading more:
- Barnes and Noble - Their online website has sections dedicated to providing children and teens with free fictional ebooks — no matter their age. From bedtime stories for kids to novels for vampire-loving teens, there’s no shortage of quality titles here.
- National Geographic Kids - You’re probably already familiar with their print magazine, but they also have a comprehensive website with information about animals, science, nature, and history. Not only is the website a great way to get animal lovers to read for fun, but your kids can even read a free sneak peek of their print articles online!
- Open Library - As the name suggests, your kids can read free library books online here. They have all kinds of great e-books for teens that you can virtually “check out” — from trending titles to all of the classics.
- Project Gutenberg - A website offering a library of over 70,000 free e-books from classic authors. You can leave a small donation if you choose, but their virtual books are all completely free of charge.
- Bookopolis - A website designed for young readers featuring book reviews and recommendations. Your kids can share their favorite titles and get their next book ideas from other readers. A great option for summer reading!
- Many Books - With a library of over 50,000 e-books, this website has every genre under the sun. They’re sure to have some of the best books to start a reading habit — and they’re 100 percent free!
- Epic! - A digital library for kids ages 12 and under. This option charges a small monthly membership for as low as $6.67, but they have over 25,000 books, audiobooks, learning videos, quizzes, and more.
2. Virtual Reading Groups or Book Clubs
Consider getting your children involved in virtual reading groups specifically designed for kids and teens. They can join together with other readers from around the world to discuss their favorite books. Similarly, they can subscribe to an online book club that will help keep them up-to-date on the latest releases and provide tips on how to stay motivated while tackling longer reads.
Lastly, if your kids aren’t interested in reading at first, a great stepping stone is to start with audiobooks! There are plenty of free options available for kids and teenagers online. Listening to stories has been proven beneficial in helping younger readers increase their comprehension skills, with the ultimate goal of getting them to read more books. It’s also an easy way for parents or caregivers who don't have time to sit down with their children but still want them exposed to engaging literature outside of school. Free websites such as LibriVox offer hundreds of titles, both new and old. Some even come with follow-up activities that make learning more interactive and enjoyable.
Quick Tip for Parents - Encouraging your kids to explore different genres may also be beneficial when trying to get them excited about reading. Whether it be comic books or graphic novels, historical non-fiction books about famous figures, or biographies and autobiographies written by influential people in our society today – exposing them to different genres can certainly help fuel those daily reading habits.
How to Find Fun New Books for Kids and Teens of All Ages
1. Your Local Library
You can’t go wrong with the old-fashioned way of finding books — your local library! Not only do they offer an extensive selection of books, but many also provide programs such as story time hours, book clubs, and author readings which can make it more fun for young readers. You can even turn it into a fun activity for the whole family to pick out their favorite books!
Bookstores are a great source of new reading material for kids and teens alike. When browsing the selection, keep in mind that many books aimed at adults may still be appropriate and enjoyable for older kids who are looking for something different from what they typically read in school. And if you don’t want to break the bank, be sure to head to a second-hand bookstore where you may be able to snag some classic titles for bargain prices. If your kids start to fly through their books, saving money is key!
3. Online Bookstores
Online retailers like Amazon have made it easier than ever to search through thousands upon thousands of titles conveniently from home. Not only do they have plenty of bestsellers, but they also have unique titles specifically targeted toward younger readers as well. Many include reviews from past customers, which makes it easy to check if the title would be a good fit before purchasing the book.
4. Kindle Kids
Kindle Kids is another great option to develop strong reading habits! Amazon has tailored its platform specifically to young readers by offering age-appropriate books with interactive features — from audio narration to game elements, Kindle Kids has some of the best books to develop the habit of reading because they’re designed to keep them engaged.
What Are the Best Books to Start a Reading Habit?
Not only are classics great for introducing young readers to literature, but modern books can be just as engaging. Have a look at some of the best books to start a reading habit below!
Harry Potter series
For several generations, Harry Potter has been one of the most popular book series among children and teenagers alike. J.K Rowling transports readers into a captivating, magical world filled with adventure and friendship.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
For those looking for something feel-good and inspiring, Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul offers inspiring stories from real-life kids about overcoming obstacles and staying positive even in difficult times. For a humorous and lighthearted read about the adolescent years, teens can opt for Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul.
Charlotte's Web is a classic coming-of-age story that is perfect for getting your child interested in reading if they’re around grades 2 to 5 or older. It follows the adventures of Wilbur, a pig who finds himself at odds with his fellow barnyard friends until he meets his unlikely savior – a spider named Charlotte.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Perfect for kids over the age of 9 — and even suitable for teens — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland may be an interesting read. It’s full of wit and humor while exploring themes like growing up, imagination, and identity.
When searching for the best books to start a reading habit, don't forget about non-fiction titles as well! Whether your child is interested in science, nature, or history, there are plenty of informative yet entertaining options available out there to satisfy any curious mind.
How to Promote Healthy Reading Schedules
If you’ve been trying to limit your child’s screen time, one helpful tip is to replace their screen time with something else — like, perhaps, reading! Whenever it’s time to put the screens away, have them read a book instead to fill the time. Hopefully overtime, they’ll look forward to their reading time and won’t look at it as a lesser alternative to screen time.
Try starting with bedtime as a designated reading time for your kids. Instead of scrolling through social media or playing video games before they go to sleep, you can allow them to read a book, an e-book, or a reading website.
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Bark is a great tool to help develop your child’s reading habit. You can set screen time schedules for all their devices, making it way easier to limit their tech time and turn them to something else like reading.
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Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.