8 Ways You Might Be Discouraging Your Child from Reading

how parents discourage reading

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We don’t intentionally discourage our children from reading. But sometimes we can make small yet frequent mistakes that deter our budding young readers over time.

Here are some common ways parents can discourage their child from reading, and what you can try to do instead.

1. Not providing reading material at home

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” — Dr. Seuss

A love of reading begins with great books – a lot of them! Make sure your house is stocked up with age-appropriate books and reading material, including comic books and kids magazines. Provide a variety of reading material around the house and in your child’s bedroom. Early readers can also benefit from having posters on the wall that include a lot of text (e.g. animal charts, nursery rhymes and songs). If your child owns a tablet device, look for reading apps and e-books that will give their other games a run for their money.

For long car trips and family holidays, always pack books and reading material.

Give your child their own bookshelves at home, and if they’ve finished all their books, you can always find more at the local library.

2. Using reading time as a bargaining chip…

Sure it may be tempting, but using reading time as a bargaining tool is something that parents should try to avoid. It’s never a good idea to associate reading with any other incentive than pure enjoyment or learning about new things. If your child is a reluctant reader, saying things like, ‘If you do your reading you can watch TV’ or, ‘Just ten minutes of reading and you can have dessert’ are not going to yield real long-term results.

Instead of bargaining, encourage your child to see the intrinsic rewards of reading by saying things like, ‘Wow, you finished your book today! Which was the best part?’ or, ‘I remember reading that book in school, and I still love it today!’ 

3. Or using it as a threat

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo

The one thing that could be worse than bribing your child to read is using it as part of punishment. Have you ever heard yourself say something like, ‘You didn’t do your reading so you don’t get to watch TV’? We’ve almost all been there.

Using reading time as punishment can leave your child filled with dread at the very thought of it. Read more about the value of positive reinforcement.

4. Not letting them choose their own books

If your child is at school, chances are they have a set reading list, and there may not be very much you can do about it. So when it comes to reading books outside of school, it’s important to let your child choose the ones they really want.

Visit the library and let your child pick out the books they want to read. There’s nothing wrong with making suggestions and guiding your child’s decision – we all hope our children will love the same books we loved as children. But ultimately, if they’re reluctant about a book from the get-go, they’re not very likely to warm up to it anytime soon.

5. Being a non-reader yourself

Can’t remember the last time you picked up a book? Finding time to read can become a great challenge in our adult years, especially when raising a family. But if your child doesn’t see you or anybody else in the house enjoying a good book, eventually they’ll struggle to see the value in doing it for themselves. Let your child see you indulge in a good read now and then – children watch (and often copy) our every move.

6. Choosing books that are too easy or too hard

If your child finds a book too easy or too ‘babyish’, they’ll quickly grow bored with it. On the other hand, if the book is too challenging and contains too many words they don’t know, it’s likely to cause immense frustration, which can put them off reading altogether.

A good way to determine if a book is just right for your child is by using the Five Finger Rule. If the book has a few difficult words, try reading aloud together. There’s nothing wrong with exposing children to more complex language in context. But if you know the language and concepts will be too difficult for them to enjoy the story, set it aside for another time.

7. Over-correcting their mistakes

This one is tricky. While it’s important to show your child where they’ve gone wrong, being overly critical can be extremely discouraging.

Reading should be a fun and enjoyable experience. It’s important to prove this to your child. Forcing them to read and reread text until they have it perfect can be very discouraging to an emerging reader. Try to avoid interrupting while they are reading and wait for a natural pause to point out any mistakes if you need to. If you want to help your child work on their reading fluency, try texts that are fun to re-read over and over again, such as fun rhymes and poetry, which also give reluctant readers a great sense of accomplishment.

8. Forgetting to read with your child regularly

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

Even if your child is old enough to read on their own, reading together can still have a lot of value. Take turns reading aloud and create positive reading memories together. Talk about the story, the characters and the pictures, and ask your child questions about how they feel or think about the book. Setting a regular reading time with your child is one of the best ways to set them up for a lifetime love of reading.

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5 Things to Know About Your Child’s Reading Level


Finding suitable books for your child is very important. Books that are too difficult may cause frustration and discouragement, while books that are too easy can sometimes be boring.

The best way to support a confident lifelong reader is by choosing texts that are appropriately matched to their reading ability. This is where reading levels come into play.

Here are five things you should know about reading levels, and what your child’s reading level means for them:

1. Why is my child’s reading level important?

Reading levels provide a measurement that considers the individual child. Your child’s reading level is informed by a series of assessments administered and evaluated by teaching staff.  Knowing your child’s reading level helps you find texts that are most suitable for them to read independently at home.

Choosing the right books for your child helps them build their reading confidence at their own pace and encourages them to read for both meaning and enjoyment.

2. How can my child’s reading level be measured?

One of the most widely used systems for reading level assessment is the Lexile Framework for Reading. The Lexile Framework determines your child’s reading level based on assessments, rather than general age or grade levels. It is an independent measure that looks at the difficulty of words and sentences, as well as the complexity of ideas presented and level of comprehension

The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an ‘L’ after it, for example, 880L is an 880 Lexile. Students complete a reading test to determine their Lexile reader measure.

Higher Lexile measures indicate a higher reading level. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for beginner readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.

3. What level should my child be reading at in each grade?

Always remember that there is no direct correspondence between a specific Lexile measure and a specific grade level.

Children learn to read at their own pace. Within any classroom or grade, there will usually be a range of readers and reading material to cater to different reading abilities.

Grade or age equivalent scores are helpful in estimating your child’s grade level performance, but should never be interpreted literally.

It can be easy to become too embroiled in what reading level your child is on, particularly in comparison to others in their class. But this can lead to children feeling pressured to “catch up” and eventually discouraged from reading altogether.

4. How do I find out about my child’s reading level?

Reading level assessments are usually carried out in your child’s school. You can ask your child’s teacher what their reading level is and to recommend an appropriate reading list for them.

If you can’t find out your child’s reading level through school, you can still choose suitable books for them using the Five Finger Rule.

5. How can I find books that match my child’s reading level?

Consult your child’s teacher or ask your local librarian to recommend books that suit your child’s reading level. Reading Eggs also contains over 2000 e-books in the Reading Eggspress Library which are arranged by reading age and Lexile level. Your child can complete a placement test to determine his or her estimated reading age and reading level.

Remember, parents play a vital role in creating a love of reading in their children. Pressuring them to rush through reading levels can be detrimental to their progress and overall confidence.

Always keep in mind that reading levels only serve to determine your child’s “just right” level in order to find the books that will pave their way towards steady progress and, ultimately, a lifelong love of reading.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program for children aged 3-13. 

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