Reading Time Before Bed Is a Joke

Updated on July 23, 2014
J.O. asks from Novi, MI
37 answers

Are all the kids out there reading and loving it, like I imagine?

My kids don't read. They hate to read. It's like a punishment.
So Instead of going to bed (ages 3 to 8) I started special reading time! They can stay up if reading or looking at a book, for 15 minutes. It was fun for 2 weeks.

Now it's a joke. They don't pick up a book. They just play (but they are often quiet, at least). I can't see screaming at them to pick up a book. They also hate being read to. Oldest is behind in reading at school. Though, honestly I never read books at home in second grade and now it's my favorite thing to do! In 4th grade I started really reading for fun, not before.

I will say, though, that there is this pressure I feel to make them love reading. We've had the house showered with books since before the first one was born. We've read to them, etc. And they truly hate books. My 6 YO even said "we hate books" when she got one as a present. :( Luckily the person who gave it was not there!

The 3 YO still likes books but he rips them. :( I hate watching my nice books get destroyed. I cannot even go to the library due to the fines that we'd get from ripped books. But we do have TONS at home.

Let me add that I jump to buy whatever book they might like. Star wars, Lego, sports, you name it! When dad offers to read to them they whine. They simply do not like it, and they don't pay attention well at all. It's like punishment. I know we should be reading to them, but gosh it's hard! They are so unwilling. And we read books about things they LOVE.

My oldest is supposed to read daily for school and he will actually look at the book and NOT read. The ONLY way to get him to read is have him sit next to me, and he reads aloud. Fine, but sometimes another child needs something, etc. and I'd like him to be able to read without me there 100% of the time.

What can I do next?

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answers from Baton Rouge on

You can't make them like reading, any more than you can make them like math, or science, or history, or any other subject. You CAN make them understand that they are required to reach a certain level of proficiency in order to pass to the next grade,. and that they need to be literate in order to be able to function in the real world.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Maybe a different platform for reading would help. My kids love their Kindle (they'll be 4 and 8 next month). We download books for free from the library, and that really keeps their interest in reading. Not to mention the ebooks are so much cheaper you don't end up wasting money on print books they won't read.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I suggest you do the reading at another time. It's not working. A 3 year old should not have books on their own. They still learn by taking things apart. They should only have foam and board books.

I suggest you put them to bed and don't do any reading because they just won't read.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

You're right - that plan does sound like a joke. Sorry. YOU are supposed to be doing the reading - not them. Especially to the 3 year old. The 3 year old has no idea what reading means or what the purpose is yet. The solution to the ripped books - don't let her have them. She's only 3 - she can't read. I'm a reading teacher and I do not push reading on my own kids. It has to be intrinsic, not forced.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Okay, first of all, I get it.

There is a stigma about kids who don't 'love' reading. I think a lot of this comes from what we hear in comparison to reading ability. Much of it is damning. One mom I know was turned off by a private school because the director/principal stated that there was a pregnancy rate which corresponded with illiteracy in third grade. In third grade, a child is only 8. For some kids, reading doesn't really fluently kick in until they are older. There are a lot of different reasons for this, including vision disabilities and other hidden concerns which can be treated therapeutically, but without evaluation and detection can go unresolved. I say this as a mom with a kid who has some vision issues which glasses or therapy will not resolve. He has to work harder at seeing in the close field (within 6') than some kids do.

That said, in the many years I have worked with young children, attention during reading can manifest in different ways. With my preschoolers, I often created interactive moments during reading a story-- asking a question, having the children make a physical motion a character in the story might make or allowed them something to handle. Some of the kids needed to be doing something, and I offered fine-motor activities then, lacing cards or large beads or read to them while I had the playdough out. For one very active group of kids, their ability to sit and listen was short and so I read some of our longer stories when they were otherwise engaged in some soothing, creative play.

I tell you this because your little ones are still little. I'd be thoughtful about how you spend your book money; hit the thrift stores, many of them have very good children's books if you look around and the libraries often have resale shops.

Having your son read aloud is great, and I would encourage you to keep doing this. As a parent, you can really learn your son's level of ability just by being present as he reads, helping him with words which may be hard to decipher, esp. multi-syllabic ones. Sometimes for a kid, hearing a written word spoken solves the mystery; we do want to encourage them with their word attack skills while helping them to keep the reading light and easy and fun. I have an only child, but when I was a nanny, while a child was reading I would encourage the other child to listen, to play quietly, or to wait until we were finished with our reading time. Treat it like a special time: sit together as a family; this can be your older child's contribution. Don't pass up this opportunity.

Does your library have a summer reading program? This is something my 7 year old loves. We record his reading time and he gets to turn it in for a prize and eventually, a tee shirt. It's fun to see all the other kids with their summer reading shirts once school resumes.

Something which also helps is my reading aloud at bedtimes and when we have some extra time. We're reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" right now as well as some Batman books, Lego books and he's been enjoying Captain Underpants as well. It's great that you are being receptive in finding books your sons would like. I have one book that I read (one of my choice) but the rest are his choice.

One thing I would suggest is to try out your library online. I know you are worried about fines, but I also feel your older son might benefit from having some choices. You could just be diligent about putting library books up immediately after reading-- use bookmarks. Our son has a great home library of rich writing and fun stories, however, our county library has been a rich resource in finding books he really loves.

Here's something else to consider: you can have your three year old help to repair the books you own. Don't replace them. Teach him, give him appropriate things to rip, like newspaper or recycling stuff. Teach him to ask for something to rip. A child that age can ask "want to rip".

I have found that if you just start doing something, kids will follow. If you ask, they will take the opportunity to say no, often because they can. Esp 3 year olds. So, it might be wise to just sit down and start reading aloud a children's book which interests you, even if only to yourself. I've done this on more than one occasion. It's sort of fun to peek up and see how individual children respond to this-- some keep on working at what they are doing and some will stop and become curious about the illustrations. Reading can be fun if you choose to engage in it despite their ambivalence

As I stated before, don't feel bad if your kids don't look 'typical' as readers. The more I'm around kids, the more I see there really is a broad spectrum of ability and interest in this area. If your boys aren't into reading, simplify bedtime and just have them play quietly for a while-- that's okay too. Each family should do what is best for them.

ETA: I do need to say that I agree with the 'we don't tolerate ripping' sentiment some other mothers proffered. That can be dealt with by finding cheap board books at thrift stores and by sitting with him when he has a more vulnerable book and giving guidance. Repairing books is part of the 'making amends' process, but if it's done in the moment and then the book is immediately put up, the kid gets the message-- you don't get to hear the rest of the story if you rip the book.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Sounds like you expect your children to read on their own and together. I suggest that to instill a love of reading you need to read with them and make it fun. The 8 yo is old enough to read 15 minutes on his own. He still needs to have you be with him showing an interest part of the time. The 3 yo is too young to have any book except a board book unsupervised. And there is too much difference in their ages for them to read together without you involved.

What worked with my daughter and grandchildren was for me to sit on their bed and at first read to them and once they were a reader to share reading. I read one page. Child read next sort of pattern. This was after the bedtime routine of bath, brush teeth, snuggle in bed. And we did this every night. I patiently waited until they settled down. It's like the teacher in a classroom. Silence works.

My adult daughter had ddifficulty reading as a child. She was diagnosed with dyslexia tho she had a complex of other issues too. As a child she refused to read. I just kept on reading with her making no demands that she even try to read. I was surprised and pleased to learn that as an adult she loves to read. She told me it is because I made reading fun by not requiring her to read. Note: Teachers didn't require students to read nightly. They asked that parents read to student if child didn't want to read. She also said she knew reading is fun because I read often.

My granddaughter also didn't like reading if she had to do the reading. Teachers said not to force her and just read to her. By 6th grade she was an avid reader.

My grandson is autistic and doesn't like to read. He also has difficulty staying focused while being read to. His mom discovered books at his reading level on the web. He loves using the computer and does his reading there.

You cannot make them enjoy reading or anything else. All you can do is consistently expose them to reading in a fun way. And show them by reading yourself that you enjoy reading.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Regarding the older kids not liking to read: Have you tried talking to a kids' librarian at the local library, and/or to the school librarian at their school(s) for suggestions on how to help the kids pick books they may actually want to try to read?

This is what these librarians are there for, and they really do know how kids think about reading and why some kids "hate" it. They have vast knowledge of all kinds of books -- not just literature but graphic novels, nonfiction, comics, joke books, how-to books, you name it. You may find that your kids think of reading as slogging through stories when they don't like fictional stories or chapter books yet. But if, for example, a kid is totally into football, well, there are LOTS of nonfiction books, picture books etc. about football; kid-level biographies of pro players; and later, chapter books and novels about football. Same for anything else. Got a kid who hates to read but loves Legos? There are whole books on Lego creations and how to make them. Kid hates to read but likes jokes? Libraries, even school libraries, carry joke books. And collections of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes and tons of other comics. In elementary school, ALL reading is still reading and is used to encourage kids to pick up a book, any book. So be sure that books are meeting their interests where they are right now, even if those books seem to you to be "just" comics or "just" how-to books.

Another big hit with elementary kids is any book of lists like the Guinness Book of World Records or lists of anything that's the biggest, the fastest, the strangest. There are lots of such books in elementary libraries and I've seen kids check them out over and over and eat them up, when the same kids wouldn't touch any fiction. That was in elementary, and by middle school those kids are reading all kinds of things as well. (I helped out in the elementary school library for a couple of years so I've seen a lot of things checked out!).

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

I'm with Fuzzy.

It really IS paramount your kids read to the proficiency they need for their grade level or what ever it is they want out of life.

But whether or not they ENJOY reading at a young age or not, and what a parent does to make that happen really has absolutely zero effect on their overall success in life.

For example:

I have 3 kids. 22, 20, 17.

First kid, who was a voracious reader in grade school, has absolutely no interest in reading now, and yet he's a very successful computer engineering major, 5th year.

Second kid would rather gauge his own eyeballs out than sit and read ANY book EVER at the same age timeline as the first, is CRAZY about reading every book every published now, and is a 3rd political science major.

Third kid is a hs senior this year, read with gusto until she reached the grade that MADE her read and that turned her off of reading for pleasure. Until now, she is pre med bound and totally wrapped up in psychiatry and neurology and would love to spend every minute of every day reading about it but is too wildly busy.

Mandatory reading KILLED my daughter's love of reading. Yeah, I'm a little bitter.

So yeah, I don't like it how the whole OMG there is something wrong with you and/or your kid cuz ya'll are not super focused on reading and have dreams about your next trip to the library together makes parents and kids feel like they have failed. Bleck.

My kid likes baseball, your kid likes reading, whatever, 5 years from now, your kid might like baseball and my kid will like reading.

Reading is NOT the end all. If your kid is reading (and more importantly COMPREHENDING) at the proficiency he/she needs to complete the work that has to be done, your kid is on track.

Kids learn a ZILLION different ways, reading is only one of them.

So whether your kid is tearing through the Tolstoy library at 4 years old, or picking his nose and wiping boogers between the pages of JK Rowling is not necessarily prophetic.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I think what helped my daughter is from day one, she observed me and her father reading every night. We've always read to her but I think it's important for kids to see their parents enjoying books if we are to hope for our kids to enjoy reading. Another tip is to try comic books. I've seen many kids go from hating books to loving books after reading comics.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You are giving them book anxiety. Stop the bedtime reading. Give all of you a break. Wait a couple days and then Start a new rule that they get no electronics turned on until they have done a half hour of reading. After that they get as much electronics time as they spend reading. But here's the thing go outside the box on what is considered reading. Reading magazines count reading game instructions count, reading you a recipe and instructions counts. The 3 year old should have only board books. But lots of them. When he complains use that as a learning tool. The 8 year old hasn't found the right type of book yet. Sit the older kids down and do a survey. Don't even mention books lol. But make a list of things they like to do, places they would like to visit, foods to eat, jobs to do etc. Animals, classes, video games. After you have the lists type them up and take the kids one at a time to the library. Talk to the children's librarian. Tell her your son / daughter hates to read and could she suggest some fun books about "x" from the list. Don't be above beginning then with electronics time for reading at least to start. It will get better once they find the right author/genres/level.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My oldest son (16) is a reluctant reader. He has ADHD-inattentive and learning disabilities. Reading, for him, was punishment because it was so darn hard. In 2nd grade he couldn't read, write, spell, add or subtract but didn't qualify as LD at that time (that came later) so I hired a tutor to re-work the foundational skills. He never, ever read a book for pleasure. I'd say now he reads maybe 1 or 2 books a year for pleasure, and those are usually written by comedian he likes and they're short snippets, ironic poetry, etc.

Anyway...up until he was maybe 12, I read to him. Someone gave him a really, really long adventure book (I think it was called Deltora Quest?) that he liked me to read to him while he was in bed. By the time he was 12, my younger boys were 4 & 8 and he used to join us in their room on summer nights and lay on the floor while I read aloud to all of them. We read a lot of Judy Blume books...Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing, Super Fudge, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great...and some Beverly Cleary. Anything that was funny and had engaging characters.

If I were you, I'd start fresh. Your 3 year old shouldn't be left alone with books until he can learn to not rip them. Get him board books (Sandra Boynton's are hysterical) and have the 6 & 8 year old read those to him. Do they all go to bed at the same time? If the 3 year old goes to bed first, snuggle and read with just him at his bedtime. Then if the 6 & 8 go to bed at the same time, have them get together in one bedroom (assuming they sleep separately being a boy and girl) and relax while you read a chapter of a book to them. Make it a relaxing way to end the day instead of a chore.

FWIW, my middle son (now 10) also refused to read in 2nd grade. He had to read for 25 minutes a day and would sit there, with his book, not reading for 25 minutes. He was still on the first book in his reading log in November and I just let him win that battle, but he was actually ahead in reading skills so it wasn't a big deal. In 3rd grade, his teacher had a Great Illustrated Classics series and for some reason, that appealed to him and he cranked through books like Moby Dick, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Black Beauty in no time flat. He was in 4th grade last year and reads every night now. He tends to read and re-read the same books over and over (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Judy Blume books) but that's what he likes so I'm not complaining.

Anyway...keep trying on the reading to them part, which they might open up to more if it means staying up past their bedtime. If their choice is to go to sleep or lie quietly listening to mom tell them a good story, most kids will choose the latter.

ETA: A million yeses to non-fiction for boys. Our elementary school library has really beefed up the non-fiction selection because there are many, many studies that show that this is what boys, especially reluctant readers, enjoy reading. Honestly, nothing could bore me to death more than reading yet another book of facts on sharks, dinosaurs, buildings, cars, or natural disasters but that's what my oldest was into so night after night after night, that's what I would read with him.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I never did the reading to my kids. They never sat still, it was as you put it a punishment. All my kids are addicted to books. My 13 year old has to be ripped from her room!

I am fairly sure had a punished them over and over they would not have found their love of books.

By the way, excellent students, they can actually spell, something I still have to work on, trust me, reading to kids that don't want to be read to is not a good thing. Let them find their way

Okay looking at some of the answers some of us don't like being read to, our brains just don't enjoy it. We can read as fast as we want but being read to? Slow interface, no thanks!

Once my kids know how to read themselves they find books they enjoy and read and read and read, but reading to them when they were little, they didn't enjoy it, why should we all be miserable?

I really don't understand why this is a subject where people think there is only one right answer.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

how very frustrating. i admit, when i was a young mother i assumed that all kids who were read to would end up loving reading, and that kids who didn't were never read to. now that i'm older and have a much wider circle of acquaintances, i know that's not true.
hee! i remember the director of a daycare telling me that my 3 year old had gleefully ripped up a book, and her gentle suggestion that if i 'shared' books with him more, he'd understand what they were for and how to handle them. i was SOOOOOOO offended. :D
mine honestly didn't have a choice. reading before bed was happening from the time they popped out of the womb. if your kids have to go to bed anyway (which i presume is a given), would they actually HATE it if they got to stay awake for an extra 15 minutes while you read to them? what if you start in 5 minute increments? if it's a choice of 'lights off now' or '5 minutes of reading', most kids will pick the reading. if they don't- well, not much you can do with that, is there?
audio books in the car was one of our favorites. of course, you can't make them listen. but you can insist on quiet so YOU can listen. and maybe it'll catch on.
but at some point you have to let go. you keep the option there and open, always, but if they don't love it, they don't, and you just can't force it. i've been very taken aback that my grown boys don't love reading the way i do. having raised my boys with bedtime stories, breakfast stories, and DEAR moments through every day, i was snottily confident that i was raising book addicts. but they rarely read for pleasure these days. i do hold out hope that they'll circle back to it later in life.
it's hard when it's something this important, to find just the right balance between being encouraging and turning it into a battle. keep looking for opportunities to keep books a positive, and back off when you feel the pushback. good luck, mama!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Have you had your kids evaluated for learning disabilities? Dyslexia has a strong genetic component, and it goes beyond just reversing words or letters on a page. Dyslexics are often brilliant spatial and kinetic thinkers -- some brilliant engineers are dyslexic -- but their minds don't work as well verbally.

I have a friend whose husband has a number of dyslexics in his family, and both their kids are severely dyslexic. The older one is willing to read, though it's not really her "thing," but she's many, many grade levels ahead in math, and she's an athletic superstar. The younger one won't pick up a book if you pay him, but he's technologically brilliant and is doing college-level graphic arts at the age of 8.

So, you might look beyond willingness and think about ability/disability.

For your older kids, I also recommend asking them WHY they don't like to read. Ask them how THEY want to solve the problem. You may get a certain amount of "I don't know. I hate it. Leave me alone," but in my experience, kids are much more invested in solutions if they're involved in developing them. No one wants to just be the "object" of someone else's great idea.

And for your 3-year-old, I do NOT agree that he should be punished for ripping books. You've got enough book-negativity floating around without throwing a punishment into the mix. Instead, get board books. Get bath books. These are more pitched to age 2 than age 3, but who cares? They're books, and they're indestructible.

Finally, ditto the comment/question about screen time, a million percent.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If reading at night is a struggle then I would just switch it to YOU reading to them. It is such a treat for kids.

A suggestion for the 8/6 year old..why don't you read the same book? Like you both do silent reading for 5 or 10 minutes, and then discuss it like friends (do not be a parent). Giggle, say what you thought was funny/silly/surprising, etc but like one of his/ her peers. Keep it fun and light with a sneaky, "so what do you think will happen next?" if s/he answers great if not leave it alone.

No matter, reading should be fun.

Just try to be positive :-)

Ditto Nervy Girl

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Well you can also read TO them but sadly, no, not all children love reading by nature. Only one of my three kids is an avid reader, like me, one reads when she's in the mood, and the other would rather walk on broken glass than pick up a book :-(
Still, the school reading wasn't optional, they need the practice to build a solid foundation for all subjects, so yes, sometimes you have to sit and listen to make sure they do their 15 or 20 minutes a day or whatever it is.
Parenting isn't all sunshine and rainbows is it?
p.s. your three year old shouldn't be ripping books, there's no reason a child should be allowed to destroy ANYTHING of value, be it a book or a toy or a piece of furniture, you'd better nip that in the bud NOW.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If he needs you there, then find time when the other kids are in bed, when your husband is there to manage other kids, etc. Or have him read to his dad, the dog, etc. Some schools and libraries have programs where kids read to stuffed animals, dogs, or surrogate grandparents. Rather than just read to read, are they into finding out stuff? My DD likes to learn about things so I get her books where we follow a recipe, figure out a mystery, look for things (I Spy), etc. She doesn't necessarily like to read on her own all the time, either, as she likes to know the words vs sounding them out. If your son is behind in reading, is it just lack of practice or something else? Friends' daughter has a problem where the spaces disappear and lines jumble over each other. It was not something that showed up on any eye exam.

If they rip and tear books, what is the consequence?

If they play vs reading, do they just go to bed, lights out? Do you try having a mutual storytime? Does your son like to read to younger kids? My nephew would not read - til he found comic books. I would ask the children's librarian what graphic novels they have. I think there is one called Bones that is good for kids, or you can try kid-oriented magazines like Highlights and Ranger Rick.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My daughter loves to read, because I read to her, and still do. She's 7 and reads really well, but I still read to her at night. We also go to the comic book store every Wednesday, she gets a new My Little Pony or Scooby Doo comic or whatever from the kids section. Maybe your son would like something like that? Comics might be more interesting to him than regular books, and I know some folks look down on them, but I think anything that keeps kids reading is a good thing.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You cannot make them love to read but it is imperative that you read to them. Reading to them is the best way to ensure academic success.

I think the mistake is that you are expecting them to read on their own. I think if you make it a ritual and add some nice perks to it (if the older one currently doesn't like being read to), they will learn to enjoy it. I've never heard of a kid who didn't like being read to, when parents started at a young age. I read to my kids until they were in their teens.

Maybe you're reading boring books? Find some better books. And it doesn't matter if books get ripped, as long as they're being used.

I really think Julie's kids are a rare exception. Most kids who haven't been exposed to books won't read on their own, and they have very poor language skills. Hang out in middle and high school for a while if you don't believe that. There are always exceptions, but studies show reading to be critical. If your child is already behind, I really think you need to find a way to make reading to her enjoyable for both of you.

p.s. Most kids don't get really excited about getting books as a present. I was an avid reader as a kid, and even I didn't get wildly excited when I got books as a present, although I always enjoyed reading them. Your 6 year old's reaction to a book as a gift is normal.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

No one should ever be tearing up books.
Teach the care of books like anything else. "Soft and gentle with books". "Love the book" "I like how you are being soft and gentle with the book"

The easiest way to teach a child to care for something is to insist they care for all things, until they are old enough to understand the difference.

It is true that some children are not into reading. It is something that needs to start from the moment they come home from the hospital.

And even then, some children are just so busy, reading is just not their thing.

At nap time at day care, I remember they used to either read, play a book on CD or play quiet music.

And Every night we read to our daughter. This continued all the way through middle school and every once in a while while she was older. We listened to books on tape/CD in the car. If she was drawing or coloring, sometimes, I would sit and read. We still all love reading to each other and she is an adult now.

My SIL's boys were not into books for a long while. Her eldest has Asperger's and he just was not focused in this way. He still is not thrilled about reading. The younger son was just a very busy child and liked to be on the move.

When I tutored at the elementary level, I found that a lot of the reluctant readers were boys. These were very active kids. A few of the boys, I realized needed a "sight guide" to help them focus on each sentence. We used to use, rulers as the guide under each sentence. A couple of them ended up with glasses.

The subject matter did help. I would figure out what they were interested in and then the kids really perked up.

Joke books.
Military Books.
Silly books (Captain Underpants)
Goose Bumps

These books were perfect for these kids.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I started reading to our son when he was about 2 yrs old.
He loved spending time in my lap in the rocking chair and he had favorite stories that he'd ask for over and over again.
His first books didn't have much in the way of words.
One was a board book about baby faces (happy baby, sad baby, angry baby, etc).
Reading was a special snuggle up time - and we didn't just save it for bedtime.
Anytime we had to wait for anything we'd read (I read to him).
We almost memorized all his Dr Seuss books - it took practice but I got good at Fox in Socks..
When he began reading on his own we still read together but we made games of it.
First we'd pick out one word over and over in the story, then I'd read even pages and he read odd pages.
Sometimes if I had a sore throat and was losing my voice, our son still wanted story time so HE'D read the book out loud for ME.
Even after he was reading on his own, we kept up the reading a chapter out loud at bedtime for a long time.
Now he's a teen and we don't read out loud anymore.
But before bedtime he'll still want to be next to me as we each read our own books.
We do love reading but for us part of it is a togetherness thing.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

I cannot relate at all, my girls have always loved reading and being read to. It does sound like you did everything right but some kids just don't fall in love with books like others do.

Still, I wouldn't worry about it at this stage, they are so young. Don't punish or force, keep reading and enjoying it right in front of them.

Reading is work when you're learning. Some children are very interested in decoding language and others are interested in other things. Just remember at 8 it isn't the same as you enjoying your book. Especially if English isn't her strong subject, reading can be more struggle than pleasure. She must have to read a few minutes a day for school so just stick with that and try to find books that have breaks, comic books, the wimpy kids series, keep it light.

Could you read aloud for a few minutes each night? I have not met many 8 year olds who would not enjoy being read to if it allowed a few more minutes before lights out. Is there a particular subject your oldest would be interested in listening to? Doesn't have to be fiction, what about nature, science or biographies? Your voice, the cadence of written language, vocabulary and cozy time with Mom are all things that will help her reading skills without her actually reading.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Have them take turns reading in real life situations - road signs, menus, item descriptions, cooking instructions, assembly manuals, game rules, playground rules, movie billboards, you get the jist. Reading books is great, but reading, as a skill, can be honed even without a book in hand.

Also, you can make reading aloud/ being read to/ reading by themselves the cost of admission for a thing. read or have the kids read for 5 minutes, then ask each kid 2 questions about the material. If they get the questions right, they earn a treat/ privelege. This ensures that they not only read, but they pay attention to the material.

F. B.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

That does seem strange. My son (8) has always loved being read to. We began when he was a few months of age. He still loves being read to before bedtime. He also loves to read and reads constantly - if we have 5 minutes before we need to go somewhere - he is reading. He has discovered reading in the bathroom (not recommended). He didn't start reading enthusiastically on his own until he was probably 5-1/2 and he discovered the Tintin graphic novels and non-fiction. Anything about animals at all.

Your three year old shouldn't be 'reading'. You should be reading to him. He shouldn't be destroying them, because you should be holding them and showing him the pictures. And they should be board books.

You say your 6 year old likes to play. What does he play? If he plays lego, read a lego book to him. Yes, they are mind numbingly boring, but he will probably love it. Does he play with animal figures? Try some non-fiction about animals. I HATE reading non fiction aloud, but DS loves it. And for us it was a huge stepping stone to him reading on his own.

We do pretty much no screen time (1 hour of Batman once a week), so screens don't compete with books.

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answers from Springfield on

Definitely stick with board books for the 3 year old. At least those are made to be played with :-)

I love the idea of making a list of the things they love to do and are interested in. My 8 year old brings home a library book each week at school, and I was so surprised to see that he usually chooses a non-fiction book. Not what I would have chosen, but ok. He's reading, right? You might just need to find something they are interested in.

Remember when the Harry Potter books came out? I didn't start reading them right away, but I do remember hearing that one of the best things Rowling did was write a book kids were eager to read. A whole generation of kids wanted to read her books!

Find something they love, and they won't want to put it down.

Since your oldest is behind in reading, you'll need to set aside some time when he (she?) can read to you. This can be anything - book, magazine, minecraft book, whatever. But you really do want to spend some time listening. It will make a huge difference.

ETA - I understand that you want your kids to read without you being there 100% of the time. This will happen ... but it's just not an age appropriate expectation yet. Seriously, give it time. Right now they need you there. The oldest needs you there to learn. The others need you there because they simply cannot read yet. They don't know how (or at least probably not enough to really read independently). Give it time.

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answers from Austin on

I agree with the others that they are young to be reading on their own. I'm helping my 6 1/2 yr old nephew with his reading and the only time he wants to read with me is when he can earn his reward. I do 15 minutes of reading activities/him reading an easy reader = 5 minutes of reward time. At first he didn't want to work with me or read with me but once I introduced the reward he will come over and start asking to earn time. After each activity he will ask how much time he has earned. (He usually earns about 15-20 minutes of game time that way each day)

You can still do the special reading time but instead of just having them 'read' by themselves (which they are not doing) get them together and read with them. The oldest child can help read what he can and the younger ones can just listen.

As a 2nd grade teacher I am going to say that he does need to be reading at home each evening. I had my students do at least 15 minutes each night. It can be him reading to you or you reading to him but he needs to keep working on his reading. It isn't as enjoyable at this age because he is still learning to read. (When my students started the 15 minutes of reading each night a lot of them didn't like it but by the end of the year they are enjoying their reading more.)

Here is a PDF about reading and encouraging beginner readers.

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answers from Indianapolis on

How much screen time do they get?

Reading is a whole different ball park when it comes to entertainment. It takes skill, concentration, and imagination. I LOVE to read! But I need quiet solitude to really enjoy it. My daughters (2 and 3) love books too. We take trips to the library, partake in story time, and even build bridges with the library books. I learned the easiest way to avoid ripped pages was a two-part process. 1) Don't ever allow children to fight over one book. 2) Avoid boredom by all means necessary. Some days that means letting them build with the books or play with them in a non- reading way. I also read the story to them and let them read it back to me by looking at the pictures. Or we start by letting them try to figure out what the book is about.

They see reading as a punishment because it's being forced on them. By teachers, parents, etc. Ever notice reading for pleasure is much easier than reading a textbook for class? My husband refuses to read a book. And he's addicted to television.

Reduce screen time. Help them discover the fun and adventure in reading.

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answers from Chicago on

No is the answer to your question.

My son is 7 and struggles with reading. He hates it but does like to be read to at night. He's too tired to read at night so we try to have him read earlier in the day. We don't read every day but we try. We always sit with him. It's a struggle and my son is always bargaining to get out of it. The teachers say, don't make it a chore, it should be fun! Yeah right.

We too had hopes of our son loving to read and we continue to hope that some day...

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answers from Jacksonville on

Do you read to them as well, or just Dad? Have you considered the possibility that you and/or Dad are not great readers to listen to?

My kids are 16 and 13. Son is eldest and he is not really a reader himself. He does enjoy books, stories, movies, etc. But the art of reading is too slow for him. He did, however, love having books read when he was younger. And that continued all through elementary--8 years olds is too young to discontinue having bedtime stories.

Daughter, the 13 yr old, is an avid reader and has been since she was 4. I taught her beginning just after age 3 1/2, and she hasn't stopped since. She is always reading, or has a book on hand, and wants to stop at the bookstore. Just loves reading.

Some people don't enjoy reading as much, but I have rarely seen kids who don't enjoy bedtime stories. Which brings me back to my original query. Is it possible that you and/or Dad just aren't the best entertainers when it comes to reading stories? Our kids always wanted me to read their bedtime stories. My husband is a great reader and loves reading. But he isn't all that into making the story come alive for little kids. He's a little "flat". I have a fairly good knack for using different voices for the various characters in a story, making sounds to go along with the plot, etc. My dad was like that with me, and he was like that reading stories to the grandkids as well. They used to love him reading their bedtime story when they were here to visit. They insisted he do it. Otherwise, they wanted me to do it. Rarely asked for husband to do it. He just wasn't as "into" the story and the voice inflections and things. It can really make a difference!

Also, perhaps an interactive story might be a better match. Long chapter books were not usually the favorites, but single, quick stories, or interactive ones (flap books when they were really small, the I Spy or something, then the kind where you pick what happens and turn to a particular page to continue the story).
But you can't just send a 6 and 8 year old to bed with a book for their bedtime story every night. You should be snuggling on the bed with them with a big pile of pillows or something, having them choose which story, and then you read it with gusto. When they begin to show signs of enjoying it... ask one of them to read "the next page"... and then you pick up from there.
I rarely asked my kids to read for me when we had bedtime stories. That's the time for them to be relaxed, not stressing over reading or figuring out words, etc.
We "worked" on reading skills during the day. Not at bedtime.
Good luck. You really can't force them to enjoy it. But you can try your best to make it as enjoyable for them as you can.

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answers from Los Angeles on

As far as loving to read when you're older, it is such an individual taste.
I'm a reader, sibling is not.
It's a personal choice when you're of age.
However, at this young age, it makes sense the 3 yr old cannot sit still for
a reading to/group.
The oldest is at an age where she may or may not be able to sit still for 1
or 2 at most books of her liking you read to her.
Let her pick out a book she likes from your bookshelf, read one (just one)
& make it interesting/fun (voice change, let her see pics etc.). Then
leave it at that.
It doesn't HAVE to be every night. Don't make it a bad experience so she'll end up hate reading for sure. Make it lighthearted AND fun. Don't
push it.
Let it go for a bit. Don't be authoritarian about it etc. Hang in there. It'll
probably change.

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answers from Atlanta on

So interesting--my kids have always loved being read to and still enjoy it, even the 12-year old. Reading THEMSELVES was a very different story for our older one (our son). Through 2nd grade, he was happy for me to read to him, however he would barely read a sentence himself. He would be willing to get out graphic novels (basically like cartoon magazines, but in book form) from the library and look through them, but that was it. The summer after 2nd grade, we found a series he liked and he's been off and running since then. Our daughter (his little sister, 3 1/2 years younger) took to reading easily and loves it. Now, they are both advanced and very enthusiastic readers.

I will say that they both went through a time of being annoyed that I always wanted to buy books as birthday gifts for their friends, however now that they both have friends who love reading, they are much more likely to want to buy a book as a birthday gift.

As you know from your own experience, a love of reading/books can click at different times, so don't worry. You might consider seeing whether they could get drawn into the joy of stories by introducing them to books on CD or storytellers on CD. They can be really engaging and could train their ability to follow a story in words rather than images. Maybe once they find that there are great stories available in words (not just movies), they'll get interested in books. For the book ripper, see whether board books are an option, or try magazines which are expendable. The idea is to get them interested in what's available in writing, and magazines or graphic novels can do that as well as traditional books. Or maybe an e-reader?

Anyway, no pressure and I'm sure it will work out.

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answers from Boca Raton on

I can't tell you exactly what to do.but cutting out reading to your child could cause harm maybe you could make it exciting by do the voices of the characters showing her the pictures not allowing her to rip the pages.I think Justin could be saying you're going to leave your room and not read them unless they want to pay attention because it's night time it's time for bed with my oldest I try to make clean up time fun we sing along a song and we clean up all the toys and then read a book and with her flashcards she's been using since 2 years old I can help her read the book with me

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answers from San Francisco on

I like the suggestion of trying comic books. They might like that better than a short story or chapter book.

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answers from Kansas City on

My boys are 9, 6, & 3 and we read before bed. They love it! We've been doing it since they were born. Are you reading with them? We read with/to them--even the 9 year old. Keep it up!! It will get better with consistency:)

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answers from Chicago on

As for the 3 yr old destroying things, I would never tolerate a kid destroying anything.....that deserves a swat.

I hear your pain about your kids and reading, mine were the same. They didn't like to be read to and when I tried to read to them, they whined and fought. My son started reading much better on his own around 8, now he's 10 & really enjoys it. My daughter who is almost 9, hates reading. I've bribed her but no go. My other dghtr who just turned 7, started reading on her own about 6 months ago. She will only read Junie B. Jones, refuses anything else...I'm not happy w this selection but have to pick my battles.

I try to take turns reading with each kid individually for 10-30 minutes each, a couple times a week. The way to do this is to let them each pick out a show on netflix if they sit and read with me.

Good luck, I hear your frustration.

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answers from San Antonio on

My kids are 2, 4, & 6. They listen best to a story when they are read to individually. You could also try story time at the library and then let them pick out some books on subjects they are interested in. When my oldest asks me a question about weather or bugs or whatever I will say "maybe we can get a book about that".


My kids are 2, 4, & 6. They listen best to a story when they are read to individually. You could also try story time at the library and then let them pick out some books on subjects they are interested in. When my oldest asks me a question about weather or bugs or whatever I will say "maybe we can get a book about that".


answers from Grand Forks on

My older son loves to read. He always has. He devours books. My younger son doesn't love to read quite so much. He doesn't like to read chapter books, but he does like to read non-fiction books, the rules for games, menus in restaurants, pamphlets, signs, scripts, music lyrics etc. They both love to listen to me read ghost stories around the campfire! When they have reading time at bedtime my older son will stay up all night (if we let him)reading to the end of a novel, while the younger will page through Guinness World Records. We also model a love for reading to our kids. I read the paper every morning and always have a book or two on the go. We always take time to read the interpretive signs when we go to the zoo or museum. We go to the library weekly, and have done so since they were babies.

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