10 Reading Challenges to Motivate Children to Grab a Book

January 31, 2023

Reading Challenges

Reading challenges aren’t just associated with summer programs. Children can participate in reading challenges throughout the year. Parents can create reading challenges for children at home to help motivate children to stay interested in books and keep reading.

While some libraries could offer a winter reading challenge, parents don’t have to rely on libraries to provide reading challenges for their children. Create a reading challenge for the family or for children that offers cool rewards while encouraging daily reading habits. Here are 10 reading challenges to motivate children to grab a book:

  1. Holiday-themed challenges
  2. Book series challenges
  3. Reading race challenges
  4. Family reading time challenges
  5. Page contests
  6. Book a month challenge
  7. Book scavenger hunt challenges
  8. Author challenges
  9. Read aloud challenges
  10. School-year challenges

Why Start a Reading Challenge?

Daily reading is often part of a child’s language arts curriculum. Teachers might require parents to complete a chart to verify that the child has read their assigned minutes per day or week. Why would parents need to create a reading challenge if daily reading is already a habit?

While reading could be a daily assignment, not all children love it. Sometimes the assignment becomes just another to-do item to check off the list for a child. Reading could morph into more schoolwork instead of growing into a true passion.

A reading challenge could help children feel motivated to read. In addition, these challenges could encourage them to read beyond their expectations or, most importantly, to want to read beyond those assigned minutes.

Finding the best reading challenge might depend on the child, their interests and perhaps their reading ability, too. However, there can be a reading challenge for every reader. Check out these 10 ideas for at-home challenges.

Holiday-Themed Challenges

Parents can create a reading challenge around a holiday. The details of the challenge can be tailored for the child’s reading abilities, though.

For fall holidays like Halloween, parents can challenge children to read books based around this theme. Parents could set a number of books in the challenge and encourage children to read anything related to candy (how it’s made, etc.), the history of the holiday or maybe even animals associated with the holiday (black cats, owls and bats).  

Parents could create a themed chart to help children track the books they read. A themed sticker could mark each book. Not everyone celebrates each holiday, and some cultures and religions have their own holidays. Create themed challenges that celebrate the holidays that are special and meaningful to the family.

Reading Challenges

Book Series Challenges

A book series challenge focuses on reading every book in a series. This could be an extensive undertaking, as some children’s book series include many books. Others might only have a few books but each novel in the series might be longer than the previous book.

Create a challenge that takes into account the length of the series and the reading abilities of the child. For example, a child who might take longer to read a book might need a longer challenge to finish reading a series with numerous books that are several hundred pages in length.

Some book series are enjoyable for all ages. Consider creating a family book series challenge. At the end of the series, the reward could be watching all the movies based on the book series (if they were adapted for the screen).

There are many book series titles for parents and children to consider for a reading challenge. Book Riot offers a list of 50 must-read book series.

Reading Race Challenges

How many books can a child read each month? This is the question behind a reading race challenge. Each month, children will try to beat their book numbers from the previous month.

If the child read 10 books in December, they will need to read 11 books to beat their goal. Parents might offer prizes or include a rewards system based on exceeding their reading goal.

Reading Challenges

Family Reading Time Challenges

A family reading time challenge requires the participation of everyone in the family. The goal is to accumulate minutes toward a family reading goal. Children and parents will need to track the number of minutes they read each day.

Family members should decide on a reward for meeting the family goal. The reading minutes for all family members will be counted at the end of the month to determine if the goal was met. Families should aim to increase their reading minute goal each month.

Page Contests

Some children are motivated when they realize how many pages per month they read. This might be an ideal goal measurement for older children who might be reading lengthier chapter books.

Children can challenge themselves to read a specific number of pages each month. Every day, they can track their pages on a chart. At the end of the month, they need to tally up all the pages read to understand if they met their goal.

Weekly Challenges

A month can seem like a long period of time especially for younger children. Instead of basing the challenge on monthly goals, set a weekly reading goal.

Again, parents might have children track their reading minutes or the number of books read per week. Set a goal based on the chosen criteria.

Book Scavenger Hunt Challenges

Get creative with reading challenges. Take children on a book scavenger hunt challenge by creating a list of names, ideas or other items that children have to find in their reading adventures. For example, parents might include a certain city or foods on the scavenger hunt list.

Children will need to find books that help them find the clues. This reading challenge is designed to motivate children to explore different genres, authors and book subjects.

Author Challenges

Who can read the most books by a particular author? The whole family can participate in this challenge, or children can participate in this challenge solo. Parents can choose a children’s author, and children can track how many books they can read per month that are written by the author.

Parents should research authors who have many titles for children. For example, Judy Blume, Lois Lowry and Beverly Cleary all have written numerous books for children and young adults.

Many schools use the Accelerated Reader program. Children can earn points through the program by taking comprehension quizzes on the books they complete. Some teachers offer rewards or prizes based on the points the child earns.

Accelerated Reader offers a Bookfinder tool for parents to understand which books are included in the program; parents can use this tool to find all the books by a particular author that are available through Accelerated Reader.

Read Aloud Challenges

Younger children can participate in read aloud challenges. How many books per week can they read aloud to parents?

Set reading goals based on a child’s reading ability. Parents also can challenge children to increase their reading each month.

School-Year Challenges

Parents can create a year-long reading challenge. Start the challenge the first day of school and finish the challenge on the last day of school. The challenge can focus on reading minutes, the number of books read, authors, chapters, etc. Children might be surprised how much they read during the school year.

Create a Unique Reading Challenge

Parents can create a unique reading challenge for their child. Challenges can focus on poetry, fiction, non-fiction or parents can change up the challenge each month.

Reading challenges can help children read more and explore different books and authors. Challenges also can build reading confidence and, hopefully, help children read more proficiently. While children might be expected to accrue a specified number of reading minutes for school, reading challenges and home can encourage them to delve deeper into the reading adventure and broaden their reading interests, too.