Original question from Quora:

My 8 year old daughter is not a fan of reading and no matter how much my husband and I try, she refuses to read. How do I get her to read?

My Answer:

Grown ups tend to have horrible ideas about reading and they tend to force kids to read without thinking about why they like reading so much themselves.

For example, adults tend to think about how kids shouldn’t read “garbage” books like say the cheesy Star Wars or other character themed books. Instead they’d like their kids to read more “classic” or “important” books. That is where a lot of trouble starts.

What kind of things does your daughter like to watch or listen to? What kinds of movies does she love? What kind of television does she watch? What kind of games does she play?

Have you tried having her read things that she is going to like?

Also, do you ever read to her out loud? You really should try reading to your daughter like every day.

My mom used to read to us every night before bed and I remember falling asleep to her reading and telling her “read it again!” multiple times before I fell asleep.

As I got older, I found myself being excited about reading and my mom always would buy or get from the library most any book I wanted to read. We also used to hang out at the bookstore and library just to look at books.

Looking back, I was surrounded by books and my mom would read a lot of books. I essentially copied her behavior of reading, and then became even more interested in reading than she is.

Most of what I read for myself was science fiction and fantasy books. I read pretty much every Star Wars novel in junior high and high school. I read a bunch of nerdy books like Sword of Shinarra and Dune. For a while I think I read some vampire novels too.

The point is, what caused me to love to read was not high minded books. It was exciting, fun books that I wanted to read.

My mom was smart enough to let me follow my enthusiasm and encouraged me to do so. If you want your daughter to read or do anything else, let her follow her enthusiasm and encourage it.

Find a book or story she’s enthusiastic about and let her explore it and find the next one.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how good a book is if you never read it.

-Brian

P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.