Books are a fun way for your child to learn about other people and cultures, use their imaginations, and understand life experiences.  While it’s great entertainment, there are numerous benefits as well.  Reading regularly can improve your child’s communication skills, self-discipline, attention span, and memory.  Sometimes, however, children just aren’t interested in sitting down with a book.  What to do?

Make it a Family Affair:  Schools and teachers work hard to help children build an interest in reading, but you can’t leave it all up to them.  Take family trips to the library or bookstore, and explore the shelves with your child.  Encourage them not to just glance at covers but to read the summary or even the first few pages.  It will help your child find out if it’s a story he might be interested in, and it will help you understand what kinds of books appeal to him.

Format Doesn’t Matter:  If your child is particularly picky, he may only be intrigued by graphic novels, comic books, or books with a low word-to-picture ratio.  While you may be tempted to guide him toward books that seem more intelligent or more his age level, understand that reading is reading and it may naturally progress to more challenging material.

Provide the Time:  Some schools provide specific reading time for children, but busy curricula don’t always allow for this.  Homework, sports, and dinner can gobble up a weekday evening and leave no time for leafing through a few pages.  Make sure your child has at least a little bit of quiet time to read on a daily basis, even if it’s just a few minutes at bedtime.

Start Young:  Snuggling up on the couch and reading bedtime stories with your toddler can be a fantastic start to a life of reading.  It’s a pleasant bonding experience, and those happy memories will help them find a lifelong interest in books.

Be a Role Model:  Why would your child think reading is fun or interesting if nobody else is doing it?  Make sure he sees you reading as well, even if it’s newspapers or magazines.

Reward Them:  Most kids are more attracted to computers and video games than books.  Try using electronics as a reward for reading time.  For instance, fifteen minutes of reading might earn him fifteen minutes of playtime on his tablet.  Adjust the times for what works for your family and your specific child; everyone is different.

Books are educational and fun, but kids don’t always know that inherently.  Your child might need your encouragement to even give it a try.  Spend some time with him to not only help him choose books but discuss the ones he’s already read.  Knowing that his parents have an interest not just in reading, but in him, can go a long way toward turning him into an avid reader.