A Simple Way to Teach a Love for Reading

I am a huge proponent of reading. One of my main goals as a parent has always been to teach my children to not only be capable of reading, but love reading. I come from a line of readers, and I believe the person who can and does read opens a whole world of possibilities to himself. One of my greatest payday comments came this year when my child’s Kindergarten teacher watched Brinley (2) do an activity with letters. The teacher commented that my children are all really good readers. This is something I have worked toward, so it is nice to know the effort has been worth it.


When I cam across the idea of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) in The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, I was very excited. It has come to be my number one favorite piece of advice from the book. It is something I do with my children consistently (when they are not in school) and have seen many great benefits from it.



SSR is essentially reading for pleasure each day. When it comes time for SSR, you choose your reading material–whether it be magazines, a book, the newspaper…whatever it is you feel like reading, you read. You read together so that the children can see you modeling reading, but everyone is silent.



  • SSR provides the opportunity to read for a long enough length of time that reading becomes natural. SSR has been shown to improve reading skills.
  • SSR gives children the opportunity to read for fun. It shows kids that reading can be for pleasure. There are no quizzes and no tests–no pressure. SSR has been shown to improve attitude toward reading.


Here are some tips on implementing SSR in the home:

  1. You can do SSR with a non-reader.
  2. Start with a shorter length of time. 10-15 minutes is a good start. You can then move up from there according to age and ability of child. We do 20-30 minutes a day; however, my children have been know to continue SSR for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. Allow the child to choose his/her own reading material. Remind the child to gather enough reading material to fill the time. For a child who cannot read independently, she will likely need several picture books (or whatever she chooses) to get through the 10-15 (or longer) minutes.
  4. Have a variety of reading material available in the home. 
    Research shows that “the more kinds of reading material in a home the higher the child’s reading scores in school” (page 90), so don’t feel like if your child chooses to read the paper or a comic book it is worthless time spent reading.
  5. Have SSR at a time of day you can be most consistent with. For my older children, I like to have it after lunch. This is a time of day that is great to relax and take a break. This is especially true during hot weather months.
  6. You read, also. You will come to love this time as much as your children do! You modeling reading is an important part of the effectiveness of this exercise.
  7. No getting up and changing material once SSR has started. Part of your goal is to have sustained focus on reading, and if the child is getting up and down over and over to change books, it will distract from that goal. That is why you remind them to get enough to last through the time. If they mis-judge (and they will at first), tell them to look through their books again.
  8. No talking during SSR.
  9. No reports after SSR is over. This is just for fun. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about what you read, just no formal testing. Let your child initiate any dialog on the reading material.


Like I said, we love our SSR. We have now been doing it for about many years.


I love it for me. I love reading, and this is a chance for me to get some uninterrupted reading time each day–something that can be very hard to come by as a mom! 


I love it for my children. I see that they love it–they never grumble or complain when it is SSR time. It also gives them a physical break in the middle of the day and allows them to just relax and escape into the world of whatever they are reading. This is fantastic for older children who do not nap anymore.


I have also seen reading skills improve greatly, especially in my full-on readers. I have seen my children get faster and faster at reading when doing this daily. When my oldest was seven, he went gone from finishing a chapter book in a day or two to finishing it in just over an hour after a couple of months of doing this (we then added some more difficult books for him because of his speed). When SSR is over, he always wants to read longer. 


I see the efforts of SSR paying off in our home. Give it a try! You will see great benefits, also.

More posts on reading here.

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5 thoughts on “A Simple Way to Teach a Love for Reading”

  1. What is the benefit of being silent? My daughter, a non reader, loves to read books aloud and so I'm just curious if the book goes into detail as to if there is a benefit.

  2. If a child refuses to be quiet or keeps getting down to play etc what would you do? what might a logical consequence for this be?Jerusha

  3. Jessie, I would imagine it is for the benefit of the other readers in the room. If it is just you and her, you could allow it for now, but at some point she will need to be able to read in her head silently. I would probably start requiring that in first grade.

  4. John, first, be sure this is an age appropriate activity for the child to handle. I wouldn't try it until the child is at least 3, and a lot of 3 year olds would not be mature enough to expect silence and sitting still. At 4 you could start expecting that, but be very patient and expect reminders to be needed. Try setting a timer and starting with only 10 minutes. Work up the time as your child is ableIf it is an obedience issue and not a maturity issue, I would probably say, "you can read silently with me in the family room or you will read silently by yourself in your bed." If you need to go to the bed option, don't be angry about it, just matter of fact. But if you find this is a battle, you will want to consider freedoms in the day in general. Just be careful to not turn SSR into a negative experience.


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