With homework assignments, music lessons, church, and extracurriculars… one important activity is unfortunately easy to push aside: reading for fun.

It can be tempting after a long day of learning and doing homework to let your kids unwind at night with a television show or a tablet. But research has proven time and time again, that childhood reading can lead to a multitude of positive outcomes, including future academic success and good communication skills. If you need some ideas to encourage your youngsters to pick up a book and log some leisurely hours reading outside the classroom, we’ve got you covered!

Take Your Kids to the Library

If they haven’t yet, provide your kids with the opportunity to discover the wonderland that is your local library. Let them wander around and explore the wide array of options. Then they’ll be able to pick out books on topics that interest them, or that have characters that look fun and exciting. Allowing them to choose a book will give them a sense of pride, and will make them want to dig right in.

Of course, on those library trips, you should make sure to pick out a book for yourself too! It’s common for children to mimic parent behavior, and what better behavior to have them imitate than reading? Plus, there are many other benefits associated with reading as an adult (besides your kids being copycats) including a potentially reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

Set a Reading Routine

Maybe it’s an hour spent reading before bed every other night or reading for 30 minutes after dinner every day. Whatever works best for your schedule, finding a way to incorporate reading into your family’s routine is a great way to instill it as a lifelong habit and even a source of comfort or stability for your children.

Read to Them

If your children are younger, or more on the reluctant side of the young reader spectrum, reading aloud to them is a good way to get them excited about books. Let them choose the book, and they’ll be more likely to be engaged in the story. Spending time sitting down and reading with your child sends the message to them that reading is a worthwhile use of time, and will encourage them to pick up a book and read on their own.

Have Books Around the House

Keep your house stocked with good, age-appropriate books. According to one study, the number of books a home library has is directly correlated with better academic performance in children. Strategically placing some of your favorite childhood books in convenient locations like the car and the living room is also recommended.

Don’t let the thought of a book collection intimidate you. You don’t have to break the bank in order to have a lot of books! You can find cheap classics at garage sales, thrift stores, and at both online and in-person used bookstores.

Make Reading Time the Reward

Although it might seem like a viable solution, try to avoid directly rewarding children for reading. If you introduce reading time as the unpleasant task a child has to get through in order to receive something pleasant, such as TV time, reading will be thought of as a chore.

Instead, let your children discover the joys of reading on their own. Frame it as a fun, no-pressure activity and it will become just that!