5 Brilliant (And Simple!) Ways to Get Your First Grader Reading More

1st Grader Reading

 Wouldn’t it be Great if Reading was Fun for Every First Grader?

Did you know reading at an early age could make your kids more confident?

Children’s self esteem improve when they’re able to find the words necessary to communicate with their peers, according to Gemm Learning. The best way for them to learn vocabulary is to read.

Yet, getting your kids to read isn’t always easy. When I Google “Get kids to read more” hundreds of articles populate the screen with tips, tricks and advice. So, if you’re struggling to get your first grader to pick up a book, you’re not alone.

Instead of spending another minute worrying about the problem, fix it. Try these tips, ranging from fun rewards to family story time, to get your hesitant readers excited about picking up a book.

1. Spend More Time Reading for Yourself

Children imitate the people around them, especially their parents. If you’re seen reading, and enjoying it, they’re more likely to want to do the same. Whether you’re scanning a magazine or relaxing on the couch with a book, show your kids that you love reading too.
A fun way to do this is to introduce your kids to some of the books you loved as a child and re-read them together. Your excitement and joy is contagious and will likely spill over to them.

2. Stock Your Bookshelf

A whopping 67 percent of children ages 6 to 17 say they would read more if they could find books they like, according to The Kids and Family Reading Report from Scholastic. Fill your bookshelf with books that are fun, silly, interesting and intriguing. If you’re not sure which books to buy, use these resources as a guide:

Don’t forget to stock your shelf with a few book series. These keep your kids reading long after the first installment is finished. The children who use our Whooo’s Reading program love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Junie B. Jones series the most.

3. Make it Fun

This sounds obvious, but it’s not a tactic that’s not used as often as it should be. Make reading fun during read aloud time; let your child choose the book and both of you can take turns reading it, creating voices for the characters, and adding your own sounds and narrative.

If the book is dull, or your little reader is losing interest, swap it out for another: “Kids will learn reading skills in school, but often they come to associate reading with work, not pleasure. As a result, they lose their desire to read. And it is that desire—the curiosity and interest—that is the cornerstone to using reading and related skills successfully,” says Kathryn Perkinson of RIF.org. Don’t hesitate to stop midway and let them choose something new.

4. Let Them Choose Between Two Options

Any psychologist will tell you—if kids have a choice between two things, they feel they are in charge of the decision-making process, even if the choice is between two books. When they choose for themselves, they take ownership, which makes them feel less like they’ve been asked to do something and, bonus, this tactic sets them up for decision-making success in adulthood.

5. Offer a Reward

Incentives motivate children just as much as they motivate you. Use rewards as a way to get your kids to read more and be excited to do so. The secret is to remember that rewards are everywhere they aren’t just physical items. Here are some rewards other parents have used:

  • Allow kids to stay up an extra 30 minutes if they’re reading
  • Give one minute of TV time for every minute spent reading
  • Turn reading minutes into “currency.” For example, every 10 minutes read can be exchanged for a fun activity, food item, etc

Talk your kid’s teacher into using the free Whooo’s Reading program, which has a built-in incentive system. The reward, decorating a virtual Owl, is surprisingly effective!
A life-long love of reading begins in the early years of life. Teach your kids to love reading with these tactics and watch them excel through school and beyond.


This post was written by Jessica Sanders, the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to social@learn2earn.org.

Photo is courtesy of John Morgan under Creative Commons licensing.