Motivation to Read- pt. 1

The one book I can remember specifically reading in high-school was The Canterbury Tales with complicated prose and complex word choice. While those in my class yawned with no urge to read, I surprisingly latched onto the book. What I found interesting to read (especially The Wife of Bath’s Tale) my classmates saw as just another tedious assignment. My classmates could be considered alliterate. Not to be confused with illiterate (unable to read or write), alliterate can best be described as being able to read but unwilling. A person can be alliterate for a plethora of reasons but for the sake of this article, I will focus on how motivation is a big impact.

One big reason why a person might be alliterate can be because the topic of the book is uninteresting. I myself have read a book before where closing my eyes seemed to be the best choice. I did not have a goal for the reading, which in-turn meant I had no motivation to read. The example of having no motivation to read is a relatable experience for most and can be especially seen in children in contemporary times who frown at the idea of reading. While others may think children don’t read because they can’t, the problem isn’t their cognitive ability but rather their motivation: the will to read. Knowing that where there is a will, there is a way, what motivates people to read and how can we best motivate others to read?

There has been research that has narrowed reading motivation down to the two factors of reading attitude or reading interest. Although attitude and interest can play a big part in reading motivation, they do not paint the whole picture of what motivates people to read. The 3 governing factors for the motivation to read include competence & efficacy beliefs, goals for reading, and social purposes of reading. An example of this can be seen in motivated readers. They believe they are good readers because of an understanding of the subject, enjoy being challenged in their reading if its a topic of interest, appreciate being recognized for their reading and they enjoy talking with their friends about what they read.

If you are wondering how to nurture motivated and engaged readers, there are a few pointers you can try. The first recommended pointer is to be an explicit reading model yourself. Others learn from seeing but going even further to discuss reading with students/community members and demonstrating how reading can make a difference in life can help to motivate to read. Another point one can try is to have a book rich environment. Just by having high-quality reading materials to encourage others to read in proximity can help to motivate a person to read. Tying into the previous point, giving multiples choices on what can be read can help to encourage a person to read. Just by being given then option to read one simply starts to enjoy reading more. If the person sees reading as a type of social reward (reading the same book as friends to have a common topic) this can help to give an extrinsic boost to reading motivation

If you would like to read more on the topic of what motivates people to read, please try a search on our database list here, using key words such as “motivation to read”, “Linda Gambrell”, and more.

Edited by- Ash Hermosillo


Tilley, Carol L. “Reading Motivation and Engagement.” School Library Monthly, vol. 26, no. 4, Dec. 2009, pp. 39-42. EBSCOhost,

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