10 Ways to Make Reading a Habit for Children

Reading is one of the most important skills your child will acquire. You can take many steps to help your child develop the habit of reading.

  • Limit your child's "screen time." The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against allowing children under two years of age to watch television or use computers, and it encourages parents to limit the "screen time" of older children.
  • Go to the library frequently. Public libraries offer many free activities that encourage children to read. Find out if your library has story hours or other events, such as "visits" from favorite picture-book characters, or guests such as authors of children's books. You can also check out the free downloadable books through the MWR Library Resources Page.
  • Create a space at home for your child's books. Set aside a special shelf for your child's books in his or her room or another part of your home. You can make a bookcase or bookshelf by turning a plastic crate or heavy cardboard box on its side. Keep in mind that young children often find it easier to take books from bins or baskets, such as laundry baskets, than from shelves.
  • Keep books in different places in your home and take some with you when you leave. You can keep books in the bathroom, in the living room, and on a shelf in the kitchen so your child can look at them while you cook. If you have a car, you could keep a few books in the seat pockets so you can read to one child while picking up another.
  • Give your child his or her own books. Think about giving your child a special book on each birthday or holiday, or to celebrate a special event, such as the first day of school. You can also encourage friends and relatives to give books as birthday presents.
  • Shop at used bookstores and yard sales. You do not have to spend a lot of money to make sure your child has books at home. You can buy books inexpensively at yard sales, library book sales, online auctions, and used bookstores.
  • Have book exchanges with other parents. Ask each family to bring one or two books that its children have outgrown and swap them for books brought by others. Sometimes the local school may sponsor a book swap activity.
  • Subscribe to a children's magazine. Children love to get their own mail, and many children's magazines offer good reading at a relatively low cost.
  • Be a role model. A child who knows that books are important to his or her parents is likely to value reading, too. Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to see you reading; not just books but magazines, newspapers, menus, maps, and recipes.
  • Look for books in your native language if English is not your child's first language. Ask a librarian or bookseller to help you find them.


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