12 Tips for Fostering a Love for Reading

12 Tips for Fostering the Love of Reading.Thursday night, I babysat two of my grandsons.

After playing with a marble game, we snuggled on the couch and I read books to them. They were exceptionally snuggly – which I absolutely loved!

Their soft little arms linked through mine . . . their tender cheek pressed against my arm . . . taking turns sitting on my lap with my arms wrapped around them . . . . kissing their little necks . . . You won’t hear me complain at all about snuggling and reading with grandkids. No siree, Bob!

There’s nothing that I love better than snuggling with my kids and my grandkids and reading to them. (Somehow, nowadays my kids don’t want to snuggle so much with me  . . . don’t understand why . . . )

Which reminds me!

Monday, March 2 is Read Across America.

This is a wonderful opportunity to have a let’s-snuggle-and-read-books-together experience with your grandkiddos.

Fact: As many as 8 million children between the ages of 4 and 13 are affected by reading problems.
Fact: 38% of 4th graders in a recent study could not read at basic level.
Fact: 26% of 8th graders in a recent study could not read at basic level.
Fact: 23% of 12th Graders in a recent study could not read at a basic level.

As a grandparent, you can have a great influence on your grandchild’s reading. If you are retired, you most likely have more time to read to and with a grandchild than parents do.

Reading together can help your grandchild increase her reading ability but more importantly it will help your grandchild increase her love for reading. When a child has positive experiences being read to, that increases her desire to read.

Here are 11 suggestions that you, dear Grandma, can do with your grandchildren to help build a love for reading.

Here are the top 34 kids books chosen by kids.

  1. Take a grandchild to a library and let her select books to read. Let her interest determine which books to get. Then, go home and snuggle and read the book.
  2. Take a grandchild to a bookstore to pick out a book that you buy and give to the grandchild. When she gets to select her own book, that book becomes special to the child who will then read it often.
  3. If you do not live close enough to a grandchild to take her to the library or bookstore, buy a book and give it to your grandchild as a birthday or Christmas gift. To make it even more special, buy a book ‘just because’ and mail it to your grandchild. She will be thrilled to get mail and thrilled to get a book.
  4. When a new grandchild is born, give the new parents a gift of 2-3 picture books for the baby. Write a little message to your grandchild inside the book’s cover expressing your love for her.
  5. As you read to your grandchild, use plenty of expression. Take turns saying different words using different voices.
  6. As you read to a grandchild, occasionally stop and ask her what she think is going to happen next. Even if she has heard the book before, she will love explaining what will happen next.
  7. Establish a Grandma and Me book club. For pre-reading grandchildren, set a goal to read a certain number of books together by a certain date. When you accomplish the goal, go out for an ice cream cone or milk shake. If your grandchild lives far away, see if the parents could read to the child. You can have a book club with grandchildren who can read independently, too. Make sure the number of books to-be-read to earn the reward is modest enough so the grandchild won’t be overwhelmed and discouraged.
  8. If your grandchildren live far away, use your smart phone to take a video of you reading a book. If the file is small enough, e-mail it to the child’s parent. If it’s large, upload it to YouTube so the grandchild can watch it. (Ask your children for help if you need some tech support to do this!)
  9. If your grandchild can read chapter books, have her select a book. Then, both of your read it and discuss it as you read along.
  10. For distant grandchildren, use Skype to read to a child. Pay close attention to your grandchild’s attention span. If she cannot focus and sit still, just flip through the book and look at the pictures. Asking questions as you read along can help her maintain focus.
  11. Invite your grandchild over and have a special dinner based around a book. For instance, if your grandchild is reading a Harry Potter book, have him ‘dress up’ by wearing a cape.. Serve things like butterbeer (root beer) and edible wands (licorice).
  12. Occasionally check out a library book that is a joke book. Grandkids will love reading those together!

The National Association of Education surveyed grade-school kids asking them to list their favorite books. I was surprised to see the list. Many of them were books that my kids read. That tells me that these books could be considered ‘classical’ children’s literature because over time they still appeal to children.

So, if you want to give a book to a grandchild as a gift, consider getting one from this list. Most likely, your grandchild will love it!

Top 34 Kids Books Recommended by Kids

Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling
Goosebumps (series) by R. L. Stine
Arthur (series) by Marc Brown
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Shiloh (trilogy) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (series) by Beverly Cleary
The Babysitters Club (series) by Ann M. Martin
Ralph S. Mouse (series) by Beverly Cleary
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
The Adventures of Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
A Wrinkle in Time (series) by Madeleine L’Engle
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Redwall by Brian Jacques
White Fang by Jack London
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

This post linked to the GRAND Social, A Mama’s Story, and Have a Cup of Mrs. Olson.

25 thoughts on “12 Tips for Fostering a Love for Reading

  • Elizabeth

    These are great ideas! I know that reading regularly really helps children with basic learning and success at school. Thank you for sharing at Snickerdoodle. Hope to see you again today!

  • Jann Olson

    Such a great post Nina! Reading to a child from the time they are little and encouraging them to read on their own makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  • Aspen Jay

    I used to tutor students to prepare for taking the SAT and ACTs and was very surprised to find that some could hardly read! So sad! Thanks for sharing the list of books… when would you suggest reading chapter books (without pictures) to children? I guess every child is different. I have a three year old that LOVES reading stories, just wondering when I should start introducing some longer stories. Thanks for sharing at the TALENTED TUESDAY link party Nina!

  • swathi

    Great tips, yes getting read books by kids is really tedious process, Thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop. missing my grandma , she used to read books for me.

  • Nina Lewis Post author


    I loved the article about chapter books to read to your son before age 5. I was impressed that your son enjoy The Hobbit! I struggled reading that as a 20-something… but then I don’t particularly enjoy fantasy — or science fiction.

    I’m glad to know that you cherish books where your grandmother inscribed in them. I do that for my grandchildren when I give them books (which is as often as I can!).

    Thanks for your wonderful comment!

    All the best,

  • Nina Lewis Post author


    Ah . . . you’re one smart cookie! Sometimes non-grandparents don’t see that my suggestions work for them as parents!

    Thanks for dropping by.

    All the best,

  • Nina Lewis Post author


    It’s always fun to share books that you loved as a child with your own kids (and grandkids). I hope your kids will all love to read for pleasure!

    All the best,

  • Audra @ Renewed Projects

    I love that the recommended reading list includes some of my favorites growing up. Passing on a favorite story to a little one is a great way to enjoy the story again.
    Modeling reading, too, can help a child catch bookworm fever. My kids see me read all the time and it has inspired my oldest to start reading “for fun” as opposed to just meet the homework requirement. 🙂 A girl after my own heart!

  • Logan Can

    These are great tips for parents as well! I loved reading the Boxcar Children growing up so I’m happy to see it included in the list!

  • Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook

    This is great advice and brought back good memories of my grandmothers! Something special that both of them did with me was to read to me books that they enjoyed as girls. One grandmother had quite a few Oz books that were literally the same ones she’d read as a child; the other had not been able to keep her childhood books but had bought the same titles to share with her children, so they were “old” to me and she had memories of reading those same books to my father and uncle when they were little.

    Instead of video, another option is an audio recording of you reading the book. It’s a smaller file size, but another advantage is that without a video to watch, the child may be more likely to look at the book and practice reading the words! One of my uncles made me several “book and tape sets” when I was little in the 1970s, and I read along with him over and over again.

    Here are some of the best chapter books I read aloud to my son before age 5. Some of those were gifts from my grandmothers. I particularly cherish the copy of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 with the note inside in Grandma’s handwriting: “Happy birthday to our Rebecca Stallings, Age 8!” It was published just before my birthday, and she indulgently bought me the brand-new hardcover, a wise investment that has held up through countless readings even before I became a mom, at least 3 readings aloud to my son, and now he’s reading it on his own, and in a few years his little sister will appreciate it too (and marvel over the idea that Mama was ever age 8)!

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    Oh, you have just made my day! I’m so glad that you are reading with your granddaughter! Your comments are so kind! They mean a lot to mea.

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    So did your extensive vocabulary give you a love of words?

    I always love learning new words — and sharing them with my family and friends…

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    You certainly were blessed to have a mother and grandmother who read to you! I’m hoping that helped you develop a love of reading!! Thanks for commenting.

  • Joyce

    This is an excellent post! Quality ways for grandparents to contribute positively to the growth of their kids while having fun besides…..!
    These suggestions do work. Most of them (well, not the Skyping!) were employed by my mother and the result was that me and my sisters read at an elevated level and had vocabulary test success that was notable in our classrooms!

  • Joyce

    I am surprised to see the high percentages of deficient readers per grade level. Your suggestions are excellent and offer ways for grandparents to contribute positively to their families. I recognize many of your tips from my own childhood….well, not the Skyping!….that my mother utilized, making me and my sisters vociferous readers with extensive vocabularies at an early age. These ideas work!

  • andik

    Nina, thx for this! I have done and still do a lot of the suggestions you have listed. I really like the idea of the Grandma and Me bookclub; I have one granddaughter that will meet our goal and more! I always pay attention when you suggest books too. I really appreciate your site. Thank You.

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