I have a seven year old son who is having a hard time "getting inspired" to read regularly. This is somewhat of a struggle for me as his older brother was reading Harry Potter at around his age and is several years ahead of his grade level on multiple levels.

Obviously I realize that every child is different (I have four wonderful children who each have varying strengths and so forth), however I know that I'm simply missing a variable in the equation of getting him interested. He feels compelled to create and invent, but he's at a point where he needs to start being able to consume information.

I've looked into several venues of reading material and I think I've found some items that may actually do the trick, however I very much would like to get some input as far as suggestions that other parents have found with regards to finding robust reading selections in a "leveling up" pattern that could really properly and more rapidly augment a child's opportunity of advancing their reading skills.

  • Just to share some effort that I took lat night after posting this: I browsed various self reading books with my little boy on the iTunes store and he picked a couple out to read, however I am not convinced that this is the "solution." I am still looking for a more comprehensive, perhaps repeatable or at least implementable, methodology / solution.
    – ylluminate
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 14:42
  • Great stories, great stories, great stories.
    – Paul Cline
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 17:11

7 Answers 7


Reading is a means to an end. People don't read just to read. Otherwise, we'd pop open a dictionary to relax after a hard day. We read to be entertained by a story, to learn about topics, or to communicate.

You need to first think about the ends your son enjoys, then find reading material to further those ends. Go to the library and explore all the sections: fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. Try out comic books, or set him up with email to family and friends. Hobbies like science, computer programming, role-playing games, and robotics can involve a lot of reading. Once the mechanics of reading are easier, you can work on the diversity.

When I was a child, my parents worried that I read too much non-fiction, so they made a rule that I had to select at least one fiction book every trip to the library. I resented that rule at first, and picked basically at random, but eventually managed to find a genre I actually liked with a series within my abilities. You could try the same thing, making him pick something until he does it on his own.

  • 1
    +1 because I laughed and laughed at the idea of my kids fighting over who gets to read the dictionary after school :-)
    – Acire
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 15:20

From my personal experience (mother of two college-age boys, former elementary school and pre-school teacher, current librarian) and many, many years of professional reading...

Preliminary thoughts

  • Kids develop differently. If you had not had the Harry Potter experience with your older child, you would probably be less worried about your younger child. His lack of interest, which you understandably want to increase, is certainly age-appropriate.
  • As you note, people are different. Some will be big readers and some won't. As much as you want your child to love reading, it may never be his "thing." Your primary goal should be that he will be a functional reader (can read well enough to do school work, to study his interests, to get information he needs, to eventually find fulfilling work). Raising a lover of reading should be a secondary goal.
  • Be careful not to turn this into a battle.

To help inspire a love of reading or encourage a reluctant reader

  • Read aloud to your child. Have close one-on-one time with your child (no matter the age) where you read to him with no other goal than to enjoy the book together. In your child's mind the act of reading will become associated with an emotionally satisfying bonding experience. He will also witness the translation of squiggly ink on paper into a story through the modulation of your voice.

  • Model reading. Children who see their parents read (particularly same-sex parents) are more likely to read on their own.

  • Take him to the library. As Karl suggested, let him choose his books. Many boys prefer nonfiction. Some kids love comic books (sometimes located in their own section of the library, but sometimes classified in the Dewey decimal section under 741 near the art books). Some like magazines. ANY reading is good reading.

  • Whenever your child asks for information, resist the temptation to provide an answer, but instead say, "Let's look that up!" Model researching (library or Internet) which is reading to find information - an essential life skill. While your child might not be interested in stories, he will be interested in finding information he needs.

  • If your child is struggling with reading school assignments, read them aloud to him while tracking the words for him with your finger. Sometimes if you read aloud part of the textbook passage, so that he understands from your tone and inflection what he is reading about, it will give him context to read the rest on his own. Acknowledge to him that learning to read can be hard, but you are there to help and he will get it with practice.

  • Sometimes if you are reading aloud and you stop at a particularly exciting part of the story, your child will not be able to help himself but to continue reading on his own. I wouldn't do this on purpose very often, because it will be viewed as trickery in time and possibly resented, but employed occasionally it may inspire reading.

  • Try audio books. Your public library probably has lots of them (and you can request titles if they don't - they will borrow from other libraries). Get the audio and the book and sit with your child and listen/read together. You may need to help track the words with your fingers. I recently listened to Neil Gaiman's spooky Graveyard Book read by the author (British accent - brilliant story on a par with Harry Potter, but a little shorter)- the book won the Newbery Award and is soon to be made into a movie by Ron Howard.

  • If your child likes movies, you can sometimes interest him in the actual story the movie is based on (Harry Potter, Holes, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda immediately come to mind, but there are many!). Roald Dahl stories are terrific read-alouds and usually meatier than the movies.

  • I highly recommend Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook for suggestions about inspiring readers and a beginning book list for good read-alouds.

  • Also, when you take your child to the library, introduce him to the librarian. Librarians are trained to ask questions about interests so they can make good book recommendations geared to the specific person. This is a behavior you can model as well - let your son see you getting a book recommendation from the librarian. Librarians live for this! A young neighbor of mine became an avid reader because his local librarian indulged his fascination with ships by requesting books especially for him from other libraries.

  • 1
    Getting the librarian involved is a great idea. My grandmother was a librarian and was absolutely amazing at picking out books for me that fit my interests; admittedly she was choosing holiday gifts for a child she knew well, but her instincts were clearly well-honed from her job.
    – Acire
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 15:24
  • One of the librarians where I work highly recommends the website www.guysread.com. Popular children's author Jon Scieszka reviews books for boys and provides encouraging tips.
    – MJ6
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 18:02
  • Just to add to the Roald Dahl stories and movies: BFG (Big Friendly Giant). The movie is as magical as the book. Also if your child likes fantasy, 'The Neverendig Story' is another great movie/book combination.
    – Ivana
    Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 9:24

Are you more about the reading, or the consuming information? It may be that reading words is not how he likes to consume information. If so, you have two separate and independent paths:

  • help him to consume information that can enable him to be better at the creative and inventive things he's doing, or just to enjoy himself. Watching movies, online videos, listening to audiobooks, going to places where you can touch exhibits (animals, shells, scientific equipment ...) - whatever lets him connect to the information and consume it at the pace he wants.

  • convince him that some information is primarily available in books alone. (Some time looking for an audiobook of something obscure should make this point pretty quickly, or a day when you don't have time to take him to the place he can touch things.) Building off that, encourage getting better at reading as a way to gain that information pipe for more topics than the ones that are covered with his preferred modalities.

If possible, you could point out that the advanced reader in the family doesn't do as well with audio books, or instructional videos. You could then present it as just a fluke of our society that so much information is available as books, and that makes reading a useful skill.

To put yourself in what may be his shoes, let me ask if you like those you tube videos where people show you how to do something that's super non-visual. Like "here's how to get your text to wrap in Notepad." It's like 3 steps and you could read them in a flash, but you have to watch this tedious video where the person is waving the mouse around and explaining stuff you don't care about, before they finally show you the menu to use to make it happen. I HATE trying to learn things from videos like that. If you are the same, consider that he feels about the written word they way we do about the videos. It's not a weakness, just a difference.


Children learn by example so here is my few points

  1. First, don't eve make the mistake of comparing your child to other children. it doesn't help.

  2. "Children learn to enjoy study sessions when these come wrapped in love." First try to read with your child.

  3. Set an example. Children who often see their parents reading and studying are more likely to view these activities as a natural part of their own lives.


Some may resort to illuminated manuscripts, but persist in so doing only making child harder to read books.

Let's figure out the complexion level of reading materials:

① Comic books ② Illustrated manuscripts ③ Fable ④ Fairy tale ⑤ Short real stories ⑥ Novel

Let your child attracted by reading itself, never make it specialized. Remember some said:"I never love reading like I will never love breathing". Make child take it for granted as a way to absorb knowledge.

So, the next thing you gonna do is inspire what book can give into him.

  • 2
    The complexity of the reading materials you list vary so widely that you can't really accurately compare them. There are definitely some comic books (see classics written by Alan Moore or Frank Miller) with more depth and complexity than many novels. There are plenty of novels that are quite simple; many are even geared for adults.
    – user420
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 13:45

You should start reading a story to your son and when there's an interesting moment you should stop and let your kid continue reading himself.


Find the subject he likes, and get books that are similar to his interests. The important thing is that the books catch his interest and make him want to read.

Slowly ease him from graphic novels to real books.

Read to him, but stop in the middle of suspenseful parts. This will make him want to read. It's cruel, but it works.

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