Reading Motivation


Why does anyone do anything?

People do things because they want to do them… because they have the desire. This has always been true and it’s hard to believe that it will ever stop being true.

The world of psychology has told us that people will do things to avoid pain. People will refrain from touching a hot stove. People will hesitate to start arguments with known bullies. People will complete and turn in homework to avoid a bad grade, if they associate the bad grade with pain. This is helpful information for those who teach and lead.

Psychologists also tell us that a much stronger motivator than the wish to avoid pain is the desire to experience pleasure. What we associate with feeling good is something we are likely to want. This is also helpful for the teacher and leader to understand. When those in your charge associate learning with pleasure, they will want to learn. When they think of reading and fun as being one and the same, they will want to read. The more they read, to experience the fun of it, the more skilled they will become as readers. The better they read, the better they feel about themselves, so the more they want to read!

It starts with the initial motivation. How can you get learners to think of reading as a desirable activity? How can you help a struggling reader, who may think of reading as a painful task, to experience 2 something pleasurable about reading… so that the reader wants to persist? At any skill level, a motivated reader is likely to become a more skilled reader.

How to Improve Reading Motivation:

  1. Provide a variety of reading materials, which may include picture books, novels of different genres, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, reference or other non-fiction material student-authored works and assorted on-line content.
  2. Allow students some choice in what they read, at least some of the time.
  3. Have readers spend time with text that they can read successfully without instructional support. 4) Be sure the instructional reading material is not too difficult for learners.
  4. Create instructional materials that relate to books the students enjoy.
  5. Instruct without criticism and without embarrassing students. Make the learning environment a safe place for your learners to try.
  6. Praise and affirm readers for their successes.
  7. Make reading a social event by enjoying various forms of shared reading and reading aloud.
  8. Invite a wide range of people to model that they enjoy reading and that reading is for everyone.