A love of reading is a key factor in becoming a successful reader. The more your child enjoys reading, the more motivated they will be to read frequently, and so the more advanced their reading skills will become. In this blog, Rosie sets out 10 tips to help children to see reading as a pleasure, rather than a chore.
Read aloud to your child as regularly as possible. Try to read a variety of literature that appeals to your child’s age and interests. Don’t abandon this practice once your child starts to read for themselves; reading to your child will help them to access high quality, exciting texts that they are not yet able to read independently. Reading aloud also models fluency and expression, important reading skills. Don’t forget about audiobooks too; they are a fantastic way to engage children in stories
If you’re struggling to engage your child in reading, seek out books that match what they’re interested in. Look for stories about horses, footballers, gymnasts; whatever they enjoy.
If storybooks aren’t working, don’t forget there are many other genres. You could try football annuals, biographies, magazines, cartoons, joke books or recipes books.
If your child sees you enjoying reading, they are likely to develop the same behaviour themselves. Make sure your child sees you reading for pleasure and tell them about books that you have enjoyed.
Provide access to as many books as possible and allow your child to choose what they want to read. This will help them to develop their own tastes and interests. Visit your local library for access to hundreds of free books, or try charity shops and second-hand bookshops. Aim to always have a good collection of books available at home for your child to choose from; you could even create a small home library or book corner. Don’t worry about allowing your child to choose the same book again and again; repetition is an important part of learning.
It is important that reading time feels relaxed and enjoyable. If you try to squeeze reading in between events and activities, or force it when your child is tired or hungry, it is likely to feel like a chore. Try to find a regular time every day when you can sit down together, relax and read.
It may help your child to create a designated reading space. Creating a calm, cosy environment for your child to read in that is free from toys, technology or other distractions, will help your child to relax and maintain focus.
It can help reluctant readers to see the value of reading by identifying word and phrases that appear in everyday life. Encourage your child to spot words on street signs, train/bus stops, shop signs, food packaging, football cards, board games, TV programmes etc. Ask your child to read the words they spot; if your child is struggling to read whole words, ask them to identify the first or last letter, or count how many letters there are in the word.
Asking your child questions about texts they have read or listened to will keep them interested in a story and help them to develop comprehension skills. As you read, ask questions like ‘Can you remember what’s happened so far?’, ‘Who is your favourite character in the story?’ and ‘What do you think is going to happen next?’.
Turning reading into a social activity may help a reluctant reader. Try arranging a book swap with another family; children choose books that they’ve enjoyed and bring them to share them with their friends. Seeing their peers enjoying reading may help your child develop their own interest. You could consider setting up a book group. This doesn’t have to be a big group; you could start a group with just one or two friends, or even a grandparent.
There are a whole host of websites and apps that are designed to make reading fun. Whilst iPads and e-readers shouldn’t replace reading books, they can be a helpful tool in making reading fun and engaging. The Oxford Owl website (https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk) has an excellent collection of free ebooks for every reading level, with interactive activities at the end of every book.