Most of us want to see our children reading – and enjoying it.
That last point is important because most children can learn to read and also be made to read by the requirements of school work. However, that’s not the same as saying that they’re enjoying it!
Here are some top tips to help your kids towards loving reading books.
Does it matter?
This probably needs to be dealt with. There are some who might argue that in today’s IT-driven world, reading books is archaic.
Yet research shows reading from books is a fantastic boost to their overall reading and cognitive skills. Studies show that children who read well and who have a large vocabulary (which usually comes about by large volume and diverse genre book reading) tend to do better in their studies than those who do not.
Encourage them to emulate you
Most children are hugely influenced by parental behaviours.
So, if they never see you reading a book, well, it won’t be a great start towards encouraging their interest.
Therefore, surround yourself with books and find the time to let your children see you reading them from their earliest days. Not easy to find the time? True! However, just 15 minutes per day is all it might require.
In the case of very young children, this usually involves reading them stories. Let them sit with you and look at the pages as you do. Most books aimed at the young age group will have plenty of pictures that will keep them interested.
Slowly, as they age, start pointing out some words and asking them if they can read them. In conjunction with their pre-school work learning to read, they’ll come on in leaps and bounds.
Let them choose the genre – within reason
It’s sometimes difficult for parents to realise that their children, even from a young age, may have different interests to them.
Asking them to read a book with you on, say, butterflies might not captivate them if currently, they’re really interested in spaceships!
It may be difficult but try to get to know what they’re really into at a given time and focus to some extent on that. Of course, you may only be able to read so many stories on say aliens or cute animals (or whatever) before feeling your sanity is at risk and you should positively try to broaden their reading tastes out as you go.
Don’t set reading as a task
Don’t unintentionally drift into emulating a Victorian parent by handing your children a book and then telling them to “go away and read it”.
Talk to them about how interesting a certain book is to try to get them to say they want to read it. It’s amazing how much more they’ll read if it is their idea.
Remember, this is something that you want them to do enthusiastically as an interest. If they start to regard it as a chore then your task will be twice as difficult.
In the early days, when their reading skills might be patchy, make sure you sit with them and let them entertain you by reading to you. Most kids will love that and you’ll be on hand to help with any tricky words or sentences.
Remember to act like it is the first time you’ve heard the story!
Also – ask them questions and interact with the story. Not from the viewpoint of a comprehension test though! Instead, play dumb and ask your child to clarify bits of what they’ve read for you. Almost all kids like to think they’re capable of teaching parents too.
Screen versus paper
Finally, a word on this sometimes very controversial subject.
Most experts agree there is something more immersive in a conventional book than reading off a PC or phone. It’s hard to cuddle up to a parent and read together if it’s a tiny screen or can’t be read unless you’re at 90 degrees to it.
Also, old-fashioned books are just more manoeuvrable. You and your child can have your fingers in several pages and flip back and forward to read-read passages or look at pictures etc. Not impossible with technology but not as easy either.
In addition, a book doesn’t offer the distracting temptations of being able to do something else, like game playing, at the flick of a finger!