Reading is a learned skill that grows better with practice. To get your child to read more, and become a better reader, engage his imagination and natural curiosity. Associate reading with doing something fun. Even children who prefer energetic, outdoor activities will enjoy reading books about their favorite things to do. Present your child with a good mix of subject matter and don't underestimate the power of pictures. Graphic novels and audio books can help engage interest in reading.
Set an example of reading. Parents are a child's first teachers, and they learn more from what you do than what you say. If you like to relax with a good book, it sends the message that reading is fun. If you look up information -- such as how to wire a plug in, or to fix an overflowing toilet -- in a how-to book that you keep in your home, your child learns that people can get useful information from books.
Read to your child. Keep early story times short or incorporate them into bedtime rituals. Chubby board books with just a few words per page are perfect for toddlers. Try out some Caldecott Medal-winning books for your older preschool child or even with younger school-age children. Enjoy the illustrations, and encourage your child to tell you what he thinks is going on in the picture, or what he thinks will happen next. Share the rollicking fun of rhyming words by reading rhyming picture books together. You can read longer works of fiction with school-age children.
Let your child read to you, and praise him for his work. When he reads to you, he is following the example you have given him of sharing the books he enjoys. It also gives you an opportunity to gently help with words that he might not know or understand, and even touch base on social concepts such as bullying or staying safe. If a book is too long or difficult for your child to read all the way through on his own, take turns reading pages or paragraphs until he feels more confident.
Provide your child with material that he likes to read. Even people who like to read often opt for different things. One way for him to explore new reading material is to visit your local library. Help him get a library card to check out his own books, or check out books on your library card. Visit a used book or new book store, and let him pick out a book to keep. Slowly build a library of his preferred reading material, whether it is far-out-there fantasy or favorite sports heroes.
Look for good comic books, graphic novels and audio books. Children who have a hard time wading through a page of words sometimes enjoy reading stories that are mostly pictures. Comic books and graphic novels include dialogue and descriptions of what is going on in the story. Graphic novels of classics can be used to build a bridge to abridged classics, and eventually to the original texts. Audio books can build a love of good stories and demonstrate the correct way to pronounce words. They work even better if your child can have the written text to follow along as the reader performs the story.
Provide nonfiction as well as fiction to new readers.
Get your child's vision checked if he is struggling to read.