I know you want to build a lasting and loving relationship with your child. Knowing what essential things every reader needs will help you to create that kind of bond with them. I feel confident that if you add these essentials into your home culture, then you will be able to raise a child who loves reading.

After spending 11 years as a classroom teacher and now being home with my little ones, these are all things that I strive for. Not perfectly, mind you, but as much as I possibly can. I try to keep a relaxed approach when it comes to reading. If you are stressed and working to check all the boxes to create a “perfect reading experience,” your kids will feel it and possibly resent it.

If I can manage it, I scatter reading time throughout our day. When my son gets upset, he loves to bring me a book. When he wants to be silly, he likes to turn his books into blocks and build a tower…and I let him! Sometimes I even help him with his book tower. I enjoy reading with him, I often read my own book in front of him, and I love to buy him new books. All of these little simple moments are the things that every reader needs.

5 Essential Things Every Reader Needs. The Miraculous Journey of Books at BrittanyDahl.com. Image of stack of books on a floor. Crib in the background.

*I use affiliate links to share products with you. If you use the link to make a purchase, the cost of the book doesn’t go up for you. However, I will receive a commission and I do appreciate your support.

Throughout this post, I have linked to other articles and resources that include more information and in-depth research about the topic that I’m mentioning. Feel free to click around and learn more. This knowledge will help to set you and your young reader up for success! Here is my full list of the essential things every reader needs:

1. Positive Interactions with Books

Let kids explore, let them play, and let them choose what they want to read.

Children need positive interactions with books. Now that could mean that your child is playing or exploring with books. For toddlers, maybe he is stacking them up as high as he can and then knocking it over. I absolutely understand the desire to have your child sit with your and read, but studies show that forcing your little one to do this doesn’t always mean he or she is paying better attention. Reading with a toddler can look like a disaster and that’s okay!

When your child gets older a positive interaction could mean that she chooses her own book. Picking out what she wants to read is important because it allows her to feel empowered and have ownership of the book. She will be more likely to stick with it instead of abandoning the book part way through!

2. Routine

You should intentionally build time to read into your day. Routines help kids to feel secure because they know what to expect. Adding reading into your day helps your child to see that books are a priority.

Take a minute or two today and identify the ways your family spends their time. Is there a typical activity that you can change and turn into a few minutes of reading?

Here are some times you can read together:

The most important thing is to find a time that makes sense and is easy for you and your family. Remember having routines makes things go smoother because children know what to expect. That’s typically why most families read before bedtime. It can be a difficult time of night, so help to bring calm to the routine by adding some books!

Family hugging. Woman, man, and two children.

3. Someone to Read with Them

No matter your child’s age, take some time to read aloud to them. Yes, I’m even talking about your 13 year old!

It’s important that your child has someone to read with them. A child’s listening comprehension and silent reading comprehension levels are not the same until he or she is in eighth grade according to Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook.

The only type of reading she consumes for the first five to six years of her life requires listening comprehension, so it makes sense that her silent reading comprehension would need more practice! It’s important for you, as a parent, to read with your child.

Here are the benefits:

  • As you read together, you’re helping to build fluency because he’s hearing examples of great reading.
  • You’re also helping to improve his vocabulary because you’re pronouncing words that he might not know how to say if he encountered the word reading on his own.
  • And you’re helping to establish the setting and typical traits of the characters, which can be a little tricky when a child reads the first few chapters of a book on her own. It’s easy to miss what’s going on at the very beginning of a book.
  • Finally, you’re creating one more means of building a bond with your child. Reading will open up topics of conversation and I’m sure you’ll create an inside joke or two from the stories you share.

If Your Child is Older and Resists Reading with You

Allow her to listen to an audiobook instead, she is still receiving the benefit of listening to the story. Or think of creative ways to work around what might turn her off from reading as you did when she was younger. Instead of cuddling on the couch, maybe you can sit around the living room and read. Take turns reading chapters of the book or listen to the audiobook aloud together.

Here are some additional great ideas from The Chaos and the Clutter to implement to encourage your older reading to grab a book.

Read with your child even when if seems like they might be too old. You won’t regret it!

4. Confidence

The fourth thing that every reader needs is confidence, and you as a parent can help him or her to be set up for success.

Here are some ways to encourage your child’s confidence:

  • Allow him to read books that are below his level. When he’s completed a book, it’s like a notch on his belt and makes him feel like he accomplished something great.
  • Similarly, graphic novels are another great way to help reluctant readers to grow in confidence. The images help to break up the text and it doesn’t feel as overwhelming to read. And once your child has completed the book, she feels a sense of pride!
  • Allowing your daughter to pick her own books also helps her to be more confident, as well.
  • It’s okay if he reads the same book multiple times. It might be daunting for you to hear that story ONE. MORE. TIME…but it helps to build his confidence, as well as his fluency. Rereading stories encourages more fluent reading and a better understanding of any new vocabulary he might encounter.

Stack of five books on a table. Spines facing away from view. Books sitting on a table.

5. A Book Series

The last thing that every reader needs, whether he is a voracious reader and loves books or a reluctant reader: he needs a book series! A book series is the best way to help kids fall in love with books.

Kids are more easily able to connect with the main character because you follow the character through multiple books. As soon as she finishes a book she knows exactly what she’s going to pick up next. I highly encourage you to introduce a book series to your child.

Here are the benefits:

  • Children will read more if they read books in a series
  • Improve comprehension
  • Help kids to envision the story more easily.
  • Develop reading fluency.
  • Share a common interest with friends.
  • Develop empathy for characters.
  • Books in a series make collectible and easy gifts.

What Things Does Your Reader Need?

Knowing what essential things every reader needs will help you to create a lasting and loving relationship with your child. What essential things has helped your child to enjoy reading more? Tell me in the comments!