Raising Readers: How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

If you’re wondering how to get your child to love reading so that they develop a lifelong reading passion and habit, here are a few suggestions. Of course, we all know the benefits of reading are plentiful, but that’s certainly not enough to make our children want to read. Instead, we need to build it into our daily lives and make it an enjoyable experience.

Read every day.

Read every day—without fail. Without positioning reading as a chore, make reading part of your daily routine. Make it as automatic as brushing your teeth, so that even on busy days with unexpected interruptions, you still take some quiet time to read for a few minutes. Also build in extra reading time occasionally to make it even more special and fun. For example, you could have a picnic, and read outside on a sunny day.

Create a reading ritual.

In addition to making reading part of your daily routine, you can also create some special rituals or traditions around reading. You might have a special cozy place where you and your child read together, or you might build books into some of your holiday traditions. Reading a holiday-themed book the night before a special holiday or giving your child a new book each year on their birthday can be a way to make books special and build positive vibes around reading that can last a lifetime.

Let your child choose the books.

Help your child find books that meet their interests and their reading/listening level. Indulge them when they want to reread the same book 100 times. This can be both comforting as well as educational for your child. Young children especially may need to read the same story a few times to really grasp the story and to add new words to their vocabulary.

Make reading fun.

In addition to creating reading rituals and traditions and letting your child choose books that interest them, be sure to make the experience fun! Take the time to really enjoy the books and get into the stories you read with your child. Read with expression. Make funny character voices. Laugh out loud when something funny happens.

Use story time as connection time.

Don’t just plow through a story, shut the book, and move on. Take a moment to discuss what you are reading. This can be a great chance for bonding or for better understanding your child. You can discuss the characters, what they are feeling and doing and how you relate or don’t relate to the story. Share a memory, and ask your child what he or she would do in a particular character’s shoes and what he or she thinks a character will do next. This is also a great way to build empathy.  

Give books as gifts.

Give your child a book at holidays or their birthday so they view books as something special and enjoyable. Also, let your child pick out books for others. If you’re purchasing a gift for a child’s friend, try asking your child if there is a book their think their friend would like.

First Grade Writing Prompts

Writing prompts for kids

I put together a fun list of first grade writing prompts to get kids writing and enjoying it. Writing, of course, is essential in education and throughout life; but it can also be a fun way to express creativity or to practice mindfulness. Writing can help us reflect, get to know ourselves a little better, and express our emotions.

I put together this list of writing prompts for kids with all of that in mind. Many of these writing prompts for kids invite children to write about themselves. Some invite them to write about how they feel. Others prompt them to use their creativity and imagine a fun scenario or story. These can be long or short writings.

When I used these with my own children, I wrote them out in one of those notebooks that has the pages split in half—half for drawing and the bottom half lined for writing. I usually let them choose whether to draw with what they write. Sometimes they did, and sometimes they didn’t. However, drawing before writing has been shown to greatly benefit the writing process, and often the result is that children end up writing more than they otherwise would have.

Writing Prompts for First Grade

About Me

My favorite food is

My favorite toy is __________ because

The best day of the week is __________ because

The best season is ____________ because

When I grow up

My favorite book is _______________ because

On my birthday I

My favorite holiday is _______________ because

Feelings and Mindfulness

I am thankful for

The best part of my day is

The worst part of the day is

I am a good friend because

Something that makes me nervous is

Something that makes me happy is

I am good at

Today I am feeling

Creative Writing

If I had a pet parrot

When I go to the beach

If I had $1,000

If I could be an animal, I would be a ___________ because

If it snowed today

If I could go anywhere, I would go

On rainy days, I

A Back to School Visualization

Back to School 2020

In order to prepare for this uncertain school year, I’ve prepared a back to school visualization exercise and read and draw activity. You can download and print it below.

The 2020 school year is fast approaching, but going back to school this year will be quite different. No one got to finish out last school year and have their regular goodbyes and end of year celebrations. Some children will be starting the new school year with masks and with a whole new set of rules and procedures. Some will eat lunch in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria. Some will stay in one classroom all day instead of rotating through the building for different classes.

Others won’t be returning to school physically, at least not yet. They’ll see their teachers and classmates again through a screen. They won’t have that same feeling of packing up their backpack and setting off to school to a colorful new classroom filled with interesting new books, toys, and materials to manipulate.

Starting something new can make us all a little apprehensive or even anxious.

Visualizing what the day might be like and planning the parts of the day we can control can help us all to cope and feel as comfortable as possible in our new surroundings or new situation.

Last year, I put together a back to school read and draw activity to help children visualize and get excited about their first day of school. Those returning to physical school might enjoy this activity, and it may even help turn some of their apprehension into excitement.

Read and draw activities also have the added benefit of aiding in reading comprehension.

This year, for children who are going to be meeting their teachers and classmates online on the first day of school, I’ve created a new back to virtual school read and draw activity.

Here are both activities, so you can choose the one that applies to you:

Back to School (in person)

Back to School Drawing Prompt

Back to Virtual School

I hope these activities help your child prepare for the first day of school, whatever that may look like. Also, remember that as parents we have a strong power to set the tone. As we navigate this new school year, let’s try to do so with positivity and confidence so that our children may do the same.

Mini Summer Reading Camp (at home!) with Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover

Rabbit and Robot Activities

If you need a few more activities to get through July before school starts back (in some form or fashion), here is a free summer reading camp for you to do at home with the book, Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover. Read below, and download the PDF with a full list of conversation questions and activities for this four-day mini summer book camp.

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover is a wonderful early chapter book for elementary school students. It is simple, relatable, funny, and has strong character development. It’s a fun book for bedtime, but it’s also a great book to take a deep dive into because there is a lot to talk about, and it lends itself well to fun creative activities.

Summer Reading and Empathy

Reading is, of course, an essential part of our children’s academic education. However, it is also an essential part of their emotional development and maturity. Reading stories with our children gives them a vital opportunity to practice empathy. Children can really put themselves in someone else’s shoes and try on another perspective. Not only do children get to practice this emotional empathy, but if we read with our children in the right way, they can also develop cognitive empathy.

While emotional empathy has to do with feeling someone else’s emotions—your child feels sad or happy alongside a character—cognitive empathy is having an intellectual understanding of how another person feels and how those feelings drive action. Cognitive empathy can serve our children throughout their lives as they deal with friends, colleagues, and family members. With cognitive empathy, they can think about how a specific person might react to something they say or do.

Practicing Cognitive Empathy with Rabbit and Robot

On the surface, Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover is pretty silly. We might chuckle at the characters and their reactions and overreactions. However, there is a strong opportunity to practice cognitive empathy throughout this book.

When trying to elicit empathy, we might start by asking our children how they would feel in a certain situation. How would you feel if you were Rabbit right now?

It’s a good place to start, but the more important question for developing cognitive empathy is, “How is Rabbit feeling right now? What might Rabbit do next?”

The thing is, your child might have a very different personality than Rabbit. When something goes wrong, your child might say, “Oh, I wouldn’t mind,” or, “I would play a different game because Go Fish isn’t my favorite anyway.”

However, what we know about Rabbit right from the start is that he has a plan, and he does not want to stray from it. He is very excited about his sleepover. He has a list of what he wants to do, and he is not interested in compromising or making any changes to that list. When we ask, what will Rabbit do next, we are asking our children to consider not how they would feel, but what they know about Rabbit and with that knowledge, what will Rabbit choose to do next. In real life, this will give your child a good framework from which to move forward in many situations.

Bonding Through Rabbit and Robot

Another important aspect of storytime with our children is that it provides an amazing opportunity for bonding. We sit close together, maybe curled up on the couch or even in bed. We share a story together. We can laugh together. It gives us something to talk about.

Many a parent knows how it feels to ask our children, “How was your day? How was school?” and receive a curt, uninformative response. When we read we can discuss the story as well as how we might relate to it. We can share our own stories of something similar that has happened to us. Our children may open up about something they wouldn’t have bothered to tell us otherwise.

Rabbit and Robot Book Camp

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover has four short chapters, so for this mini summer book camp, I’ve laid out creative activities and discussion questions for each chapter. The creative activities are partly just for fun and to provide an opportunity for your child to create. Some also allow your child to dive deeper into the story and the characters.

The discussion questions are meant for you to start a conversation with your child. What I would strongly advise against is handing them to your child to write down answers. Try to use them as a frame of reference to start a natural conversation with your child. Some of the questions are aimed at developing that valuable cognitive empathy I mentioned. Others are aimed at opening up a conversation between you and your child about his or her own experiences.

Don’t feel like you need to go through every question and check them off (like Robot does with his sleepover list). If one question sparks a 20-minute conversation, you can skip the next question if you need to. The idea is to have meaningful conversations, bond, and practice cognitive empathy.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes!

Free Audio Books for Kids

Free Audiobooks for Kids

Free audio books for kids are the perfect thing to make a road trip fly by or make a too-rainy or too-hot afternoon more fun. I even came across one parent who said her children listen to audio books while they clean their rooms. If you have a voracious reader or listener at home, you’ll especially appreciate some free audiobooks for your kids this summer.

There are several benefits of audio books for kids, including:

  • Allowing children to access text that is beyond their current reading level
  • Modeling what reading should sound like (appropriate pace and expression)
  • Making reading more engaging or more enjoyable

The great news for parents is there are several places that offer free audio books for kids online (and some selections for adults too)!

Where to Find Free Audio Books for Kids:


Lit2Go is completely free and easy to use. Each work is available in Mp3 format, making it easy to use. You can listen right through the website from any device. A huge bonus for kids is that Lit2Go also offers the text of each work in PDF format, so children can follow along as they listen. This is a wonderful opportunity for building reading skills.

The site has a wide range of older texts, including works by Charles Dickens, Fredrick Douglas, and Rudyard Kipling. Parents may find something for themselves to listen to this summer as well.

Here are a few (but not the only) books children may enjoy from Lit2Go:

A Little Princess

Peter Pan

Peter Rabbit and Other Stories

The Secret Garden

The Snow Queen

The Wind in the Willows

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a well-known source of ebooks, but it also has links to audiobooks in various formats, including Apple iTunes Audiobooks and MP3s. If you’re not familiar, Project Gutenberg claims to be the oldest digital library. It is a major volunteer-driven effort to digitize cultural works and make them widely available, and it is mostly populated by works that are no longer copyrighted and therefore in the public domain.

This means, you will mostly find older titles here. It’s a great resource, but if you’re looking for recent works by diverse authors, this is not the source for that endeavor. However, if you would like to revisit older literature, this is the place. And it’s completely free!

If you search by category, you will find icons next to each title indicating whether it is available in text, audio or both.

American Indian Fairy Tales by W.T. Larned

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Through the Looking Glass

Anne of Green Gables


Librivox has compiled audio readings of works in the public domain—again you won’t find the latest releases, but you will find old classics. The readings are all done by volunteers, which is pretty amazing. Some works are read by a single reader just offering their time to make these works accessible, while other audios may include a full cast of voices for each of the various characters.

You can download the audio or listen through the website from any device. Librivox does not include PDFs of the text.

My Father’s Dragon


Aesop’s Fables Volume 1

The Adventures of Buster Bear

You can also find short stories and individual fables:

The Lion and the Mouse


Storynory is a great resource for kids. It offers a podcast and website with audio streaming and downloadable Mp3s all for free. “Storynory has grown into the largest—not to mention the best-loved—archive of free children’s audio-books on the internet,” according to The Telegraph.

Storynory not only offers classic children’s books but also fairy tales, myths, and poems. It has something for all ages, and the website is colorful and easy to navigate. One of my only complaints about Project Gutenberg is that the website is a little clunky to navigate, but this isn’t so with Storynory.

Because Storynory is specifically for children, I’m not going to provide specific links to audio books from its site. You can visit the site, and browse its menu by classic audio books, fairy tales, myths, and more. Check it out, and you’re sure to find something for your child!

K12 Read Aloud Classics

K12 Read Aloud Classics is a free app with readings of classic children’s stories, poems, and fairy tales. The stories are also illustrated, which can be appealing for young children. It also offers nursery rhymes for toddlers. Some of the stories offered include The Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and The Three Little Pigs. This resource is ideal for young kids on the go. If they’re squirmy in the car, in the waiting room, or just at home not feeling well, this can be a great way for them to experience classic stories and nursery rhymes.

While the app is free to download, there is a limited selection of free stories. Beyond that, you’ll have to pay for access to a larger selection.

Your Local Library

Don’t forget about your local library, which likely has audiobooks available for checkout. Often you can even access a selection of audio books to check out and listen to without even going to the library.