Reading doesn’t always start as a preferred pastime for children, but there are ways parents can help them find enjoyment in it.

One of the best ways to turn reading into a practice for kids is to begin reading with them, said Kristy Toplikar, a youth services librarian at Daniel Boone Regional Library.

“One of the most important ways is to pick a time every day where your family reads,” Toplikar said. “A lot of times, especially for younger kiddos, but for older kids too, just go with a bedtime routine, set aside about 20 minutes or so to sit down and read a few books.”

Reading to children, having them read to you or having time where everyone in the family reads will help a child become more intrigued with the idea.

Toplikar referred to this as modeled reading, which will make a child want to mimic you.

“If you’re never reading and never having fun with it, then they might not see that as a fun thing,” Toplikar said. “But if they see it in their parents, their siblings or whoever, they might want to replicate that and do it themselves.”

Model reading

According to Toplikar, it’s especially helpful to begin modeling reading when children are young, since they’re able to absorb information like the pacing, rhythm and vocabulary of books, as well as their parents’ expressions early on. But if a parent doesn’t begin modeling reading until the child is older, it is still an effective tactic.

“Modeling reading can start as soon as when they’re freshly born, but you can start anytime,” Toplikar said.

“If your kid is 6 now, and you feel like they’re behind on reading or you haven’t added reading into your family’s schedule very often, now is the perfect time to start.”

If a child has had a negative introduction to reading because of a teacher or because they simply struggle with it, they might become what Toplikar referred to as a “reluctant reader.”

When children become reluctant readers, the best way to get them re-invested in books is to help them find a novel about a topic they’re passionate about.

“If they’re interested, then they’re going to keep reading, so they could be interested in graphic novels, nonfiction or books about dragons or whatever it ends up being,” Toplikar said.

Choose well

Graphic novels are an especially useful way to grab a child’s attention because they have fewer words and will help ease them into the idea of novels. Allowing a child to read books that draw inspiration from TV shows or real life, things they like, also helps.

“They get a little passionate about it from seeing it on TV,” Toplikar said, “We see a lot of kids who are into Peppa Pig or Disney princesses.”

If a parent isn’t sure how to spark an interest in books, begin spending time in a local library with the child.

Daniel Boone Regional Library has book activities such as story time sessions for babies up to preschoolers. They’re a way for parents to socialize with each other and for kids to gain literacy tips and learn how to make books fun.

“We act books out, we bring out props, we bring out puppets, so we make the books more than just the text,” Toplikar said.

1,000 books

Another free program, “A Thousand Books Before Kindergarten,” is for children from babies to 5 to figure out what they like to read and begin making it a daily habit.

“We encourage parents and kids to read together and to read 1,000 books before they get into kindergarten,” Toplikar said.

“When they start off, they get this cute little backpack and their first reading log, and it says to just read your first 100 books,” she said. “So it can be the same book over and over, it can be different books or you can get through half of a book and still count it.”

After they complete their first reading log, children will begin receiving a free book for every 100 books they record. This process continues until they get to 500 books, when they’ll be awarded a stuffed animal reading buddy.

Once they finally reach 1,000 books, they’ll also receive a kindergarten starter kit to get them ready for school.

For older kids

If you have an older child you want to get more engaged with reading, Toplikar said their program “Reading to Rover” is another great one.

The program takes place at the library once a month where kids kindergarten and up will read to therapy dogs. Toplikar said this fun activity can help with their literacy and build confidence in reading out loud.

  • Community reporter, spring 2023. Studying journalism with an emphasis in news writing and reporting. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.