How to Help Your Child with ADHD Enjoy Reading

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Reading plays a critical role in childhood development and carries a host of benefits for people of all ages. However, it doesn't come naturally to everyone. While some people who live with ADHD love reading, others face challenges. In this article, I will address why a child with ADHD may not like to read as well as the importance of reading. Then, we will go over how to help your child with ADHD succeed and enjoy reading with tips such as reading aloud, turning off electronics, and finding ways to make reading more fun. 

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Why Doesn't My Child with ADHD Like to Read?

Throughout the years, various research studies have found that it is more common for children with ADHD to struggle with reading when compared to other children. Various factors might play a role in this, such as:

  • Forgetfulness. Even if a child is able to read a passage, they may not retain the information due to deficits in working memory seen in those with ADHD. 
  • Distractibility. A child who is distracted easily, or who has trouble with tasks that require sustained mental focus, may experience frustration or find reading difficult.
  • Hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms. If a child struggles to remain seated or finds it challenging to engage in quiet activities, reading may be challenging. 

It is also worthwhile to note that dyslexia often co-occurs with ADHD. If a child has dyslexia, which is one of the most prevalent learning disabilities, it could impact how they feel about reading. Early detection and intervention can be helpful for those with dyslexia, so if you suspect it, talk with their healthcare provider.

Importance of reading

It’s true that reading makes for an excellent free or low-cost hobby. However, the importance of reading spans far beyond that. Reading is vital for children because it can:

  • Increase vocabulary.
  • Promote critical thinking skills.
  • Aid social and emotional development.

Reading is also crucial for other parts of learning. Often, in school, a child will need to read written instructions. If they face difficulty with this, they may miss necessary information and fall behind in other areas at school, too. 

Tips for Helping Your Child Enjoy Reading

It is possible for people with ADHD to look forward to, and even love, reading. Here are some tips that parents can use to help their child with ADHD enjoy reading. 

Choose Books That Are Interesting to Your Child

Challenges with reading aren't always due to a lack of enjoyment, but when you choose books that are interesting to your child, it only makes sense that they'll be more motivated to read or be read to. To choose books that interest your child, you can:

  • Take a trip to the library together. Make it a fun outing, and allow them to pick the book(s) they want. 
  • Select books on general topics that they are already interested in (e.g., dinosaurs, horses, or another interest).
  • Find books with familiar characters from TV shows or movies that your child enjoys.
  • Choose interactive books. Especially for younger kids, you may be able to find books with pop-ups, pull-out tabs, and so on. 

Funny books, graphic novels, and even magazines can help kids gain an interest in reading. Remember that all reading counts and that building a positive association with reading is an achievement regardless of the material. 

Read Aloud to Them 

Reading aloud to kids when they are young matters, and it can help them thrive. When you read to your kids, it can increase vocabulary, help them associate reading with pleasure, and promote their own level of reading readiness. It is never too soon to start reading to your child, toddler, or infant. In fact, starting early may help build positive long-term habits.

This can be a great addition to your child's bedtime routine. For children who have trouble sitting still, getting energy out earlier in the day through exercise and allowing children to hold a fidget toy may be helpful. Remember that movement doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is not listening. 

Audiobooks, which can be paired with accompanying text, are another potential option, especially for older kids and teens. 

Turn off Electronics

To eliminate distractions, turn off electronics. Remove smaller electronics, such as cellphones, from the room entirely. Larger electronics like televisions and desktop computers that cannot be removed should be powered off entirely, especially if they would otherwise light up or make noise. E-readers, which are tablets designated for reading only, are exceptions.

Talk About the Book

If you read out loud, talk about the pictures in the book and ask your child questions. Often, children's books have messages that give you an opportunity to teach them about various important topics, such as emotions, friendship, and treating other people with kindness. Let's say that you're reading a book about a hippo who is sad after being excluded by a group of friends. An example of what you might say is, "What is the hippo feeling? Are they sad? Why are they sad?" 

What about older kids? If your child reads a book on their own, you can ask questions or otherwise start a conversation about it. When a book is assigned at school, you may even read it as well so that you can discuss it. Be mindful of how this conversation will shift as children grow older, and make sure that you don't come off as though you're pressuring or forcing a child; this could have the opposite impact and make them feel as though reading is a chore. 

Make Reading Time Fun

Similar to picking books that interest your child, when you change it up or add other elements and activities to reading time, it can help make it fun. If there are specific ADHD symptoms your child you can identify that cause challenges with reading (e.g., the urge to move around, trouble focusing on reading as a sole task), take them into account so that you can work with them rather than against them. Here are some ideas:

  • Let kids read to pets or stuffed animals. 
  • Take turns reading passages from a book out loud.
  • Ask your child to make predictions about what will happen in the book. 
  • Create a fun space for reading. You might create a blanket fort, for example, together before you start reading.
  • Read as part of another activity. For example, you may ask your child to read a cookbook out loud or read the instructions to your child while pointing to the words on the page while you make dinner together.
  • If they enjoy art, ask your child to draw pictures of a character or scene from the book.
  • Allow breaks. Let your child read in short bursts and get up to move around if it works best for them.

Get creative. Parents may also find it beneficial to turn reading into a game or family activity. Word games and computer games that support reading comprehension may be helpful for kids alongside the time they spend reading or being read to. 

Try Series

Rather than introduce a new storyline and set of characters every time, a book series that your child enjoys means that they get to engage with characters they already know and love. It may be easier to focus on because it's something they're already interested in. If they haven't found a book series they enjoy yet, expose them to various options and allow them to gravitate toward what they like. 


Make reading fun, engaging, and low-pressure to help a child with ADHD enjoy reading. For some children, the problem could be that reading is difficult. Kids who need help with reading or who are behind in reading skills when compared to others in their age group may require added help, such as school-based interventions and tutoring.