Books aren’t enough to motivate some kids to read. Thanks to cell phones social media and video games, they’re more distracted than ever before and looking for things that stimulate their imagination and engage them.
In many cases, kids simply struggle with the activity, which makes them less likely to do it as well.
The following reading websites and tools are great resources for parents and teachers motivating kids to read more. While reading regularly is only one way to engage young readers or help struggling learners overcome their literacy problems, it’s a start—and everyone needs to start somewhere.
This news website is brought to you by the Smithsonian, filled with teen-appropriate content on a variety of subjects including culture, animals, technology and tweens in the news.
Kids will be attracted to content such as “How Do Spiders Make a Web” and can choose their own reading level. When you (teacher or parent) sign up, you’ll be able to see the Lexile level of the articles they’re reading along with quiz scores, which come with each article; scores are automatically delivered to you.
Whooo’s Reading, an online reading log and tracking program, uses key elements of gamification—personalization, goal setting, progress indicators, advancement, rewards and recognition—to entice kids to read more every day.
Kids are also interested in reading with the Whooo’s Reading program because it gives them the freedom to select the fiction or nonfiction books of their choice, rather than forcing them to read something in which they have no interest.
As kids become better and deeper thinkers, the extrinsic rewards (Wisdom Coins and Badges) quickly become intrinsic, making reading in and of itself rewarding.
While this site is designed specifically for teachers, as a parent, you can recommend that the educators at your child’s school get signed up.
You don’t always need flashy content or distracting games to engage kids—sometimes a simple change in topics does the trick. Wonderopolis attracts kids with offbeat topics like, “Is Biting Your Nails Bad For You?” or “What Makes the Ocean Blue When Water is Clear?” All the articles are accompanied by videos, pictures, vocabulary lists and quizzes.
As a teacher or parent, you can feel comfortable letting your kids peruse this site for any articles they want to read—all the content is kid-safe.
The school library may not be lined with hardcover Britannica books like it was when you were in school, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t access that same great content.
Head to Britannica’s website where kids can access current event articles along with Britannica-style pieces that include biographies and historical explanations.
Kids are able to take quizzes, scroll image galleries, and scan fun, list-based articles. When you sign up as a teacher or parent, you’ll also receive access to interactive learning activities, research and study guides, and thousands of images, videos and statistics.
Making reading relevant may be just what some of your kids need to begin loving it. You can do that with TIME for Kids, which provides kids in grades K-6 with articles about current events written just for them.
As a teacher or parent, you have access to a library of free printables. If you subscribe to get the weekly digital edition, you’ll also receive the accompanying assessments, classroom resources, teacher guide, whiteboard edition and online teaching tools. Note that pricing is on a per-child basis.
Motivating students to read more is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to helping kids overcome literacy problems or learn to love reading. However, daily reading practice is an important piece that shouldn’t be overlooked and is now easier than ever thanks to these fun websites and tech tools to motivate reading.
Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on Amazon.com.