3 Ways To Encourage Your Kids to Love Books

kids love books title

I was the kind of kid who had to have my book pried from my grasp every night before bed. I was that girl who hid under the sheets with a flashlight until I read all of Ramona Quimby Age 8 in a single night. I remember crying my eyes out when I finished Where the Red Fern Grows, sitting on the edge of my seat through all the Goosebumps and Nancy Drew series, and falling in love over and over again with Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. And I can remember feeling as if I had fallen into a literal depression when I read that Dumbledore was dead. Books were my love growing up. I read in the car. I read at recess. I read all throughout Summer break.

And I guess I just assumed my kids would be born with the exact same love.

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But we live in an era of iPads and Smart TV’s, and it would be easy to let technology replace the art of reading in our children’s lives.  And rather than force my son to sit and read a book, I want to work towards cultivating a genuine love for reading within his sweet heart–especially while he is still so young.

Fun, not forced.
Magical, not mundane.

So below are three rules of thumb I practice to help keep books a priority in our home. These tips are geared towards my toddler age son and certainly won’t work for everyone.   I would love for you guys to add tips and tricks that have worked in your home.

1. Never Say No.
I do my best to never say no (within reason) if my son asks me to sit down and read a book with him. I’ve been known to turn off the burner if I’m in the middle of cooking dinner, or throw on a robe if I’ve just gotten out of the shower. I want him to feel like reading with him is a prioirty to me, and if he associates the good feelings of this quality time spent together with reading, than his chances of reading when he’s older will hopefully be greater.

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2. Give Surprise Book Presents.
Every now and then, on my trips to TJ Max, I stumble upon a great book at a low price. I bring the book home, wrap it up, and have it waiting for Wesley when he gets home from preschool.  We make a big deal on the way home that he has a “surprise” present waiting for him.  He practically bursts through the front door with excitement, looking all around the house for his present.  One of my favorite qualities about my son is that he is the most gracious gift receiver. He always Oooos and Ahhhs, often loudly exclaiming “Wow, this is cool” or “So Awesome” and “Thank you soooo much Mommy”.  No matter what I wrap up for him, he always makes me feel like I’ve hit a home run. The simple act of wrapping up his book, rather than handing it to him from the shopping bag, adds a whole new level of intrigue…which generally results in him reading the book for double the length of time that he usually would. This can also work with a book that he has forgotten about or hasn’t read in a long time. I simply pull it out of the cupboard and wrap it up like a new present. Voila!

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3. Set an Example of Reading.
Although I was such an avid reader as a kid and teenager, it hasn’t been as easy for me in my adulthood (the mom years).  However, about 6 months ago I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room reading a Readers Digest when I stumbled upon a quote from a nationally recognized teacher.  I can’t remember the exact quote, or the name of the teacher who said it, but her overall message has taken permanent residence in my Momma-brain.  If we want our children to love reading, we need let them see US loving to read.  I guess it’s just like anything else in life.  If I want them to make good habits, I need to exemplify those habits.  So every day, I’m making an effort to sit down with an actual “paper” book—even if it’s only for 5 minutes at a time.

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Here are the books we’re loving right now:

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by  Sherri Duskey Rinker
I Love Monkey by Suzanne Kaufmann
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Brown Bear by Bill Martin
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
Curious George Series by Margret and H.A. Rey
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Llama Llama Series by Anna Dewdney
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

And to see a list of some of the books I read growing up, click here.

What are your favorite children’s books?


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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Great Advice. I am an advocate for reading aloud to children. I imagined my kids would grow to love story time but I noticed the more I let then choose the books the more they truly enjoyed it. I will def. try the surprise book idea to get them excited! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Great advice! I probably say no way more than I should! And that last picture is just freaking adorable!

  • Reply
    Annet M
    January 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I don’t comment much but love your blog. But books, well we LOVE books. He has SOOO many books and even if we don’t have much money I have trouble turning down buying a good book. For Christmas, we told family that we didn’t want anything except clothes (cause he’s growing like a weed!) and books. And they listened, no plastic toys from China and he was totally good with that.

    So we read a lot of different books but our favourites seem to be the three bear books by Nick Bland – the Very Itchy Bear, the Very Cranky Bear, and the Very Hungry Bear and then also The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by an author I can’t think of right now. Enjoy!

    • Reply
      March 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child are fantastic! They are written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. I recently came across the US website for The Gruffalo . Here’s the link: They also have Facebook and Pinterest pages with fun craft ideas, activities and even prize giveaways!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    it makes me so sad when i see little kids who won’t sit for a book, but love their parents’ ipad/iphone/etc….. nooooooo.

    i had never heard of them growing up (though i had some things with the characters on them), but a family i babysat for several years ago had lots of the sandra boynton board books, which are currently all over in our marshalls stores. the kids loved them.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I feel like you have written this post just for me! I absolutely loved reading when I was a kid. I loved Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Hiding Place, etc. Since being a mom I haven’t really had time to read as much as I would like to. The past couple days I got sick with the flu and was forced to lay around on the couch. Because I wasn’t allowed to do anything because I had no energy, I picked up a book. It has taken me three day to finish it, but that’s better than three years, right? And you know what happened? My 2-year-old and 1-year-old were bringing me THEIR books so I could read to them too. A book nerd’s dream! Thank you for posting this! I plan on applying these tips in our home!

  • Reply
    Laura Smith
    January 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Do your boys have any of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems? They’re sooo cute! My boys especially love the one entitled, “Should I share my ice cream?” Its a favorite for sure around here! They can be kinda pricey, but worth it. I find them occasionally on Scholastic sites for good deals.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Great advice!! I love that you put it so high on your list – I bet you’re children love the fact that you’ll put something down to do something that’s important to them. That’s what I want to always remember to do with my future kiddos.

  • Reply
    School Sparks Renee
    January 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    This is such great advice, Ashley. As a grandmother, it makes me so happy to see my grandsons love books. (That was what my 5 year old requested for his birthday present!) And I agree that it is so important, in this electronic age, to consciously promote book reading – actually holding a book and turning the pages always makes me so happy. I know that reading of any kind (on Kindle, etc.) is great for kids, but I must admit there is something so comforting about holding a book and thumbing through the pages. Thanks for this post. Renee

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Good tips! I need to work on the drop everything and read when my children want to.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    You wrote how your son loved surprises brings back memories, when my Grandson would receive a gift, he would shout out “Just what I always wanted”. It just made my heart do a happy dance just to see his smiling face. Thanks for sharing and helping me to look back on happier times, he is now 21. I love your blog.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    We are the same, you and I! I want to name one of my daughters Ramona, after those books. Actually I want to name all my children after book characters or authors. Truth. Also, Where the Red Fern Grows will always be my favorite book of all time (and I’m not even really a dog person!)…I’ve read it about once a year since I was old enough to read it, and my copy is all yellow with many pages falling out. Oh how I adore it!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    we read every night before bed. I find a ton of books at a local consignment shop and our local library has a for sale section. My favorites are the Wonderful World of Disney books! My daughter loves the Llama Llama books, the If you give a mouse a cookie series, and Eric Carle books. 🙂

    I also have done the Book Advent “Calendar” now for 2 years. I wrap up books so she can open one book present a day for the entire month of December. As soon as Christmas is done I put them all away so they seem new again next year!

  • Reply
    Kerry @ Climaco Classroom
    January 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Your photos are just precious, and I love all of the suggestions. Now that my daughter is almost a year old, she’ll love getting surprise book presents from me!

  • Reply
    Lindsay Roberts
    January 25, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Such great tips my friend. Love that you are back 🙂

  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 1:51 am

    We love some of the same books but we also love :I love you stinky face; Ypu are my I love you; Five little monkeys jumping on the bed

  • Reply
    Amy Deschaine
    January 25, 2013 at 4:17 am

    I love this! These are great ways to encourage reading 🙂

  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    We encourage our boys to read to us. At 3 and 5, they are repeating what they remember from the story, but they love to be the one reading! And if they can’t remember what happens on a particular page, they usually just wing it – which helps foster creativity – another priority in our home!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Our favorite around here right now is “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”

  • Reply
    January 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Love this!! Currently we love Knuffle Bunny, He Came With The Couch, by David Slonim, and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

  • Reply
    Cheryl McGinnis
    January 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    As a teacher by trade I agree with everything you said….I want my Lily to LOVE books. I love listening to her tell verbal stories with her Barbies and spying while she is reading contently to our puppies or watching her eyes light up when we walk into the library. However, as a mom, I find myself doing more and more reading on my computer or phone. I rarely pick up the newspaper or a magazine. The books I read usually have pictures and are about a Princess! I have made a conscious effort, a New Year’s Resolution if you will, to read a BOOK. A real book. I dream for my little girl to LOVE to read and become so engrossed in a story that it becomes so real that she feesl she is living it. After all, that is what makes reading so amazing; the use of our IMAGINATION!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I am also an avid reader and when I see my nieces and nephew reading with zeal it warms my heart to the core! Some favorites for the little ones in my life are the pigeon series my mo williams and knuffle bunny by the same author, Seven silly eaters by Marla Frazee, martha series by susan meddaugh, goodnight gorilla by Peggy Rathmann , just to name a few I could go on and on ! When I was studying to be a teacher I read The power of reading by stephen krashen and it has some wonderful research and ideas about building literacy in children.

    thanks for a great post!

  • Reply
    Marge Brown
    January 31, 2013 at 12:08 am

    My favorite children’s book is “Love You Forever”. Don’t remember the author. My grand kids all wanted me to read it over and over. I dare you to read it through to the end without tearing up. Makes me cry every time I read it. It is a lovely book.

    Thanks for the reminder to get kids to read more.

  • Reply
    Lisa Goodson
    February 1, 2013 at 3:35 am

    I love to read and two of my three kids do too. Funny, my firstborn got so much more reading time than the others, simply because he was the ‘only’ for awhile and he doesn’t read much.

    My favorite book was The Little Red Hen. My mom could recite word for word to this day she read it so many times.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    So true. 🙂
    I was also the kid with the flashlight… and I have made it a priority to instill the love of reading with my daughter.

    Another fun activity is to go to a used bookstore (we have a ‘Half Priced Bookstore” here) and let your kids pick out their own book. Sometimes the books are something I would have never selected on my own, but my daughter is so proud when she has ownership of something she picked out herself.

    Lovely post.


    P.S. I love that photo of your ‘adult book’ is “Daring Greatly.” FANTASTIC read. 😉

  • Reply
    February 5, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I just LOVE books. I loved all the same favorites as you when I was a kid. Little Women is still one of my favs.
    Since majoring in Early Childhood Education and becoming a nanny; I’ve grown my love even further for children’s books and even written my own series. I’m working hard to get it published and I believe it’s SO important to keep written stories alive. Ipads and such are a great resource but they shouldn’t replace certain medias of printed art and children’s books are something we definitely have to fight to keep alive. Those moments together are so irreplaceable.

  • Reply
    Duncan Faber
    February 20, 2013 at 6:56 am

    What a great post, Ashley. If I can share with your readers… in our house we’re also big on audiobooks. We turn off the tv and have them on in the background during playtime or meals. We download them for free at It’s really a great way to keep their imaginations engaged. Hope this helps. Keep posting this wonderful blog!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2013 at 3:05 am

    I just found this on Pinterest and LOVE what you wrote… but it’s missing something. Take your kids to the local library and let them pick out as many books as they want/are allowed! It’s FREE [as long as you return thing on time] and gives your kids a much bigger selection to choose from at storytime. Just think of how many more words they’ll learn if they read 1000 different books by kindergarten instead of being limited to whatever you can afford to buy! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 3, 2013 at 3:08 am

    @Duncan Faber: You can borrow audiobooks from your local library, too — and most even lend FREE downloadable ebooks and audiobooks. Just ask them how! [Our patrons use]

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