7 Ways to Encourage a Love of Reading

3. Make it social

child reading with pet guinea pig

Steven Vote

Everything's more fun with friends.

Read to a pet: When Carolyn Halliburton's daughter was young and struggling with dyslexia, she was happiest reading to the family dog, "who never corrected her," says the Plano, Texas, mom. For 10-year-old Annie Harbison, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the audience of choice is a crew of very attentive stuffed animals.

Family read-a-athon: Melody Sobers of Clinton, Utah, occasionally cancels bedtime to read into the wee hours with her sons. The gatherings may be planned -- say, when a long-awaited title is released at midnight -- but sometimes, "we just can't put a book down," says Melody. In Champaign, Illinois, the Odoms favor a "Lazy Butt Reading Day," when they all climb onto one bed or sofa "like a pile of puppies" with books and magazines and share passages aloud as the spirit strikes.

4. Offer books as treats

child reading under table

Steven Vote

Make reading a reward, and kids will pick up on the excitement.

Tempting tableaux: During her daughters' toddler and preschool years, Erin Jettenberg of Anchorage, Alaska, occasionally set up little themed reading areas for them to find: a tea-party hideaway with snacks, stuffed animals, and books about friendly critters or a tent stocked with flashlights and books on camping, bugs, and animal tracking.

Book fairy: When the Lodge kids of Timonium, Maryland, were young, their house was frequented by a book fairy, who left surprise reads hidden in their playroom. At the Judkins's home in Farmington, Maine, the Tooth Fairy brings a book for the first tooth lost, and even a leprechaun has been known to leave texts behind.

Mystery book bag: When Nicole Farrar of Plainfield, Illinois, gets new books for her children, ages 9 and 5, she hides them in a special, decorated canvas tote bag. The kids must ask questions to guess the series, title, or theme before they can open the surprise.

5. Think outside the book

If your kids go for information, there are lots of ways to get it.

Fuel their passions: Heather Buquet of Bourg, Louisiana, supplies her kids with a variety of reading material on their favorite subjects: animals for Natalie, age 11, and fishing and boating for Clint, 16. "If they're interested in something, kids will gladly read all about it," notes Heather. Each child has subscriptions to niche magazines, such as Cat Fancy and Yachting, and Heather makes a point of regularly scanning newspapers, magazines, and websites for articles that might appeal to them.

Mix up the media: For kids who've grown up with computers, an e-reader or tablet (such as a Nook, Kindle, or iPad) can be an instant draw. After trying everything they could think of to get their youngest son, 12-year-old Andrew, to read for pleasure, Debra and Paul Weaver of Carteret, New Jersey, bought him a Nook Simple Touch. "He started reading almost immediately and continues to do so," says Debra. Audio books, which allow restless kids to play, draw, or otherwise move about while listening, can work similar wonders.

Log the laughs: Danielle McCartney of Troy, Missouri, keeps a rotating supply of quick reads, including joke collections and animal almanacs, in a tote in her car's backseat. Her son, Scott, age 8, enjoys flipping through the pages and sharing facts and funnies as they roll.

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