Topic | encouraging to read


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  • Noemi C.


    My 9 year old daughter loves books and stories but still hasn’t started to read properly yet. She knows how to read but doesn’t read much but listens to me reading out loud whenever the chance arises. She also spends hours listening to audio books and keeps wanting to buy books to read but seldom sits down to read by herself.
    Has anyone got an input how I could encourage her self-reading passion?

    Thank you!


    Honestly, I would say keep doing what you’re doing. Read to her, let her listen to audio books and collect books she’s interested in;  all of this is great!

    I have a just-turned 9yo who is juuuuuust starting to enjoy reading independently, though, like your daughter, she has always loved listening to us read to her.  Her reading skills are good, but she seems to have a low stamina for reading to herself. This was a new thing for me, because her two older sisters were avid readers at this age. In fact, one of my daughters read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy to herself three times in a row at nine years old. (Okay, she was a little obsessive, but you know…hee hee!)

    A couple of things I’ve noticed that have helped my dd begin to enjoy independent reading:

    Don’t force her to read independently, shame her for her seeming lack of interest, or compare her (out loud) to her siblings or other kids her age.  Different kid, different preferences. For instance, this daughter is not going to read the LotR trilogy on her own at nine like her big sister did (unless she surprises us in the next year, which could happen), but that doesn’t matter. As it happens, my husband is reading the trilogy to her at her request, after she listened to him read The Hobbit, and she is very engaged in the story!  But even if none of that were true, no amount of shaming or forcing would healthily change that or be worth it in the end.

    Ignore what kids in public or private school are doing in this academic area, if you have a tendency to compare yourself or your daughter. This will help with the suggestion above.

    Read to her as much as you both can stand, so the rhythm of language, vocabulary, word pictures, story structure, sheer magic, take root in her mind.

    Allow her to read books that seem much lower than her reading level if she’s willing to read them independently.

    Have a time when both of you are reading independently, but together. For us, this happens at night before she goes to bed. We lie on my bed, she reads her book (whatever that may be) and I read mine. For my dd, being *with* someone really helps her. The image of a child tucked into a cozy corner alone, quietly absorbed in a book, is NOT my dd!  Bwa ha!  It is certainly my other two (even now at 19 and 24) and it’s me, but not my youngest. It makes her feel lonely and she has a hard time focusing her attention. It took me a long time to notice this.

    Encourage her to read you little snippets of her book that she finds interesting for whatever reason. Kind of like a commonplace book, but out loud. This has helped me know more of what my dd finds interesting and also makes reading more “social” like she prefers.  I do the same for her if I read something I think she’d like.

    Take turns reading aloud one of those easier books I mentioned above. You read one page (or paragraph, or sentence, or whatever you choose) and then she reads one, back and forth. This can make it less daunting to look at a whole book which might seem huge to her, even if it’s something like Frog and Toad, and feel like reading it is climbing a mountain.

    Find books that have larger print and/or illustrations on lots of the pages. Less threatening in appearance than a book full of long columns of just words.

    Make sure her vision is healthy by getting her eyes checked. If she has uncorrected vision that needs correction, the physical act of reading may be fatiguing her.


    Maybe some of these suggestions will resonate with you. Take heart – spreading a feast of great books for your daughter will pay off in the end. Even if she *never* loves reading independently (which, let’s face it, some adults do and some don’t), she will love *something* in life and will have a mind and heart full of words and stories because you have shared them with her.


    I have encouraged independent reading by allowing 30 minutes before bed to read a book of their choice with a booklight at their bed.  Or they can just go to sleep early.  😉

    We have also participated in various reward programs: public library summer reading programs, Pizza Hut Book It, and Six Flags.

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