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How I Get My Reluctant Son to Read Books

By Isabel Kallman

This post is sponsored by Chronicle Books’ Ultimate Adventure Series for Kids

Chronicle Books asked me to share how I get my son to read in a video post. I wasn’t an eager reader at 9 years old and neither is my son right now. So, here’s what I do.

I would love to hear what you do to get your kid(s) to read. Please leave a comment below to be entered to win a set of the three Ultimate Adventure books from the Worst-Case Scenario series: Everest, Mars and Amazon. I’ll be giving one set away (giveaway rules below).

The books are great and my son thought it was so cool that you could skip ahead based on the choices you made in the books. It’s an added level of interactivity that makes it feel like a game.

Here’s a the book trailer for the Mars Ultimate Adventure book.

Giveaway Rules: Please leave a comment below (only one comment per reader, please) to enter the giveaway of one set of three books of The Ultimate Adventure Series. One winner will be chosen at random using Entries will be accepted until Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. The winnner will be contacted via email. If the winner fails to respond within 48 hours, another random winner will be selected. Giveaway only open to contestants 18 years or older and residents of the U.S. Good Luck!

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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  • Fairly Odd Mother

    April 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Oh can I empathize. My oldest LOVES stories but not to read it herself. We’ve done a bunch of audio books and I read aloud to her a lot even though she’s 11 and could read almost anything herself.

    I love your tips too. . .she just read a child’s biography on J.K. Rowling (like your son read Steve Jobs!). And she adores graphic novels and comic books—anything with pictures—and Marcia Williams does great comics based on real literature (Shakespeare, Dickens, ancient Egypt stories). And the “You Wouldn’t Want to Be” series is just the right mix of real history and gross-out to appeal to kids.

    My goal is to make her love hearing stories and to realize how awesome books are which will make her want to read. She now reads a lot more on her own b/c she knows she can read it herself sooner than I’ll get to reading it out loud.

    • Isabel


      April 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

      You know, there is no reason why I can’t continue the reading aloud part that gave me so much joy when my son was younger.

      Also, thank you for the book recommendations. Going to check them out.

  • Elizabeth Hosto

    April 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    My son loves to be read to but is just getting into the reading by myself stage. He will fight it when he brings me a book to read to him that I know he can read, sometimes we will read it together, sometimes I can get him to read to his little brother or Grandma. He loves audio books and the deal he made with his Dad is that if Dad downloaded all his favorite Magic Tree House books that he would follow along while they are being read to him. I also try to focus on things that appeal to encourage reading.

  • Dana

    April 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    My son is just like yours — loved to read until it was homework. I also seek out books that he likes — right now his favorites are Captain Underpants and Goosebumps.  This does help and he is starting to look forward to reading.

    I also have a daughter in Kindergarten who is just beginning to read. She’s very excited about being able to do it like her big brother and I want to encourage that.

    What I started over Spring Break and I’m going to carry on over Summer Vacation is “Family Reading Time”.  I drove them to the library and told them that we are all going to pick out two books.  They can be whatever books we want and we can pick out more, but everyone needs to pick out at least 2 that they want to read.  Then, in the afternoons we all three cuddle up in my bed and we each read our books for 20 minutes.  At the end of the time we tell each other what happened in the story.

    They were thrilled!!  To my great astonishment and delight, they actually reminded me when it was Reading Time and very much looked forward to sharing what happened in their stories.

  • cher

    April 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    My son never wanted to read, he only wanted to play and watch TV, so I combind them. For a long time hes was into Thomas the Train, so I got every Thomas book out library had, and then I ordered the complete original set in one book. I read that to him at least 10 times, 2-3 stories a day. Then he moved on to Legos, so I started getting Lego theme books (about building Legos and also Lego story books). Then it was Star Wars and Clone Wars…. You get the picture. He is still a ‘picky’ reader, but I’m so happy that gets excited when he gets extra reading time before bed ! Now he has a cool, lounging spot in the corner of his room where he can read with a special night light, bookmark-timer, and comfy pillows.

    • Isabel


      April 24, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Ha, I love the phrase “picky reader!”

  • Stephanie

    April 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    We have a chore chart where my son has to do 30 minutes of reading a day (quiet reading time). Every Friday afternoon after school I take my kids to the library to pick out 3-4 books. They can choose anyone they wish – I’m trying to promote subjects that he likes – which seems to be working too (basketball, bmx biking really anything). I’ve found I can get him to read too if he reads to his sister and feels like he’s teaching her something.

    • Isabel


      April 24, 2012 at 9:51 am

      There’s no younger sibling to read to. When my son did a mentoring day at an ESL preschool he loved helping his younger buddy.

      That’s something I should look into, reading to a group of preschoolers. I think that would be great on so many levels.

  • Ally

    April 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    My son is just starting to learn how to read. So far he really enjoys it because we spend special one on one time together when we do it. I’m curious to see how he will be with it in a couple of years.

  • EMO

    April 22, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Max and I go to the library regularly.  Just being around books each week gets him interested in reading them more.

  • Marlen

    April 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I only see my stepsons during the summer. It’s been a real challenge to get them to pick up a book – but they don’t mind being read to. I actually really enjoy sharing reading time with them, and during the time they are not with us try to find interesting books to read next time we’re together. Some of the books I found turned into personal favorites, too – and they’re a nice change of pace from my usual reads. The 39 clues series is great, because they can go online and play games that tie into the books – and game time is an easy sell… The worst case scenario books look to be right up their alley – they’re definitely going on our list. 

  • Ms. Huis Herself

    April 23, 2012 at 12:35 am

    We’ve read to our two kids every night before bed since pretty much forever. Now my 7yo is such an avid reader that we’ve had to institute the “no reading on the stairs so you don’t trip & break your head open” rule. 🙂 The 4yo is well on her way to becoming a reader as well. I’d say, read early, read often, read to them books you loved as a kid & go ahead & ham it up! Books are FUN! Let them experience that.

  • Lindsay

    April 23, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Great video… Very helpful. Thank you Alphamom!!!!!

  • tasterspoon

    April 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Whenever my parents took my brother and me shopping when we were young, it was understood that there would be no toys or candy BUT we would always stop for a while in a bookstore and my parents would spend *any amount* on books we chose. Really! Even the big, hardback, full color glossy photo books about airplanes that my brother invariably chose. It really made a point about values (and my brother continued to prefer non-fiction – but so what? – though he did move on to Clive Cussler type novels and ultimately grew up to be a Naval Flight Officer) and I intend to do the same with my kids, even if does seem expensive in the short term. (It makes me sad that bookstores are going away for this very reason, but we’ll take full advantage of the library.)

    My parents also modeled reading; they both read all the time. I rarely feel like I have the time to read books anymore, just magazines while I’m brushing my teeth or whatever, but I’m starting to realize how important it is to do so for my kids’ benefit.
    I’m on the fence about when and how much ‘respect’ to teach my kids to have for the printed page (it’s the content that matters, not the binding…right?). My baby girl loves pop up books and books with moving parts, but also rips them to shreds. (It doesn’t kill me because I get them for 99c at the thrift store.) I want to stop her, but I have also seen her start to go wild for books on her own (without me as intermediary), and I don’t want to stifle that.

  • tasterspoon

    April 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Unrelated: I love that display of vases behind you in the video!

    • Isabel


      April 24, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Jamie

    April 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I have a 9 year old son, and he certainly isn’t the voracious reader that his sister is. It’s really about finding the right kind of books, I think. Each of my three kids has loved the Diary of a Wimpy kid series. And we try to still read aloud each night, too, as a family.

  • Ciara

    April 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I must have these books they sound so cool. They’ll go well with the bookmarks I recently got from your site!

  • Deborah

    April 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    For us it’s all about treating reading as a privilege and a joy. My son is fortunate to have a teacher who understands that book reports often have the downside of sucking the joy out of reading, so we’re not required to do those. From there, it’s all about providing content that appeals to the child. Certainly what he reads isn’t to my tastes, but then, I’m sure he would be bored stiff by my choices too!

  • JessicaB

    April 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Our LO is too young to read, only 3 months!! But my husband was worried that his reading “voice” needed work. So he practiced on me in the car while I drove. I loved it. Because Kira is still young yet, I can get away with reading my political magazine to her, but in a story voice. My husband finds it hilarious to listen to me read about MITT ROMNEY and the PRIMARY CAMPAIGNS! or PRESIDENT OBAMA and his PLEA TO CONGRESS!!

  • Andee

    April 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Both my husband and I like to read, so our daughters see us reading for fun all the time. The oldest like to read, the 2nd is learning. We like to have them read to their baby sister. They like that a lot. Family story time is fun too – we are currently reading Harry Potter together.