There are SO MANY benefits for a child who reads for pleasure. So how can we ensure children actually WANT to read?
I’ll admit it. There is nothing that I like to see more than a child engrossed in a good book.
I spend all day long promoting the benefits of reading to children and trying to ensure as many children as possible understand the magic of a good book, whilst simultaneously teaching them how to read for themselves. There is honestly nothing better than a room full of children who are so engrossed in the words and pictures of an amazing book that they forget about everything else, just for a minute.
But somehow, someway, children often seem to lose their motivation for reading. There could be many reasons for this; whether its the ease and speed of available technology making books seem boring, poor teaching surrounding books, not enough access to interesting or appealing books, or something else – but each child’s reading experiences and motivations will be unique.
I believe this is an unnecessary tragedy for children when the benefits of reading are so vast, and so I thought I would share my knowledge with fellow parents so you too can keep the reading flame burning for longer in your child.
Read on to find out my top tips to make reading really enjoyable!
Why is it so important for children to enjoy reading?
There are SO MANY BENEFITS to reading! There is a lot of scientific research on the benefits of reading out there, but I will just give you an overview here (so feel free to contact me if you want pointing to the research). Here are the reasons why I feel it is so important to encourage a love of reading in children:
- Reading helps children to perform better in school
- Reading improves vocabulary and speech
- Reading develops concentration
- Reading is relaxing
- Reading helps children to learn about a range of different people and places, and makes them more relatable
- Reading can help children realise their strong interests
- Reading helps to build a bond with others
- Reading improves imagination and creativity
- Reading helps children’s brains grow and develop
- Reading improves memory
If you are still reading at this point, is it even possible not to want your child to love reading?! 🙂 So how to we get kids to fall in love with reading?
How do I encourage my child to want to read?
Here are my top tips to supporting your child to develop a genuine love and interest for reading:
*Make it fun! I am starting to realise that this is usually my first tip to most things, but it’s because it works! By making reading a low pressure and enjoyable activity, children will want to do more of it. Pressure is almost always a passion killer! You could create a cosy reading nook, or dress up as you read – whatever works for your family.
*Show them that you enjoy reading too. But only if you genuinely do. Children observe your actions, as well as listening to your words, so if you often spend some quiet time reading it is likely that your child will follow suit.
*Have a good range of books available to your child. This doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune on books to keep at home – you could visit the library, or check second hand selling sites.
*Give them a choice. This goes hand in hand with the above point, and is really important – if children feel forced, the fun will be sucked out of the activity. Point your child in the direction of books related to their hobbies and interests, or on topics they might enjoy, but try not to choose for them.
*Talk about books. Ask them questions about the books they’re reading, ask their opinions on a new book you want to buy, or tell them about your reading. It doesn’t really matter what the conversation is, as long as there is meaningful talk about books happening.
*Make reading relevant to real life. Sometimes, reading can feel like something a little removed from real life for children – more often than not, it is experienced as something they have to do, rather than a choice. If children can understand the benefits for them, and how it relates to their life, it becomes more appealing. Example – if your child likes to bake, letting them know that reading can help them to access lots of cool new recipes can be motivating.
*Read out loud to your child. Reading out loud lets your child hear new words, as well as how a more experienced reader reads books. It gives them the enjoyment of the story with no pressure – the only outcome is to share a wonderful book together. I recommend continuing to do this way beyond the point where your child is starting to read, as it is really valuable to your child.
*Have your child read out loud to you. Or, ask them to read to your family pet, their younger sibling, or their favourite teddy – whatever does not place pressure on them and creates an enjoyable experience.
*Give positive and specific praise on your child’s reading. The power of specific praise is not to be underestimated! By telling your child specific things like ‘ I really like how you read that tough word so easily’, it supports them to understand what they’re doing well and why. This gives them a positive boost which helps make reading enjoyable and builds their confidence.
*Consider books in different formats. Audiobooks, eBooks, apps and magazines all have their place in encouraging your child to enjoy books and stories. There are a range of books read on YouTube for example, which can be really appealing to children. Also, don’t snub watching the movie version, as it can be really fun to compare the book with what they’ve seen on screen.
*Make it a challenge. What I am not trying to promote here is bribing your child to read, but rather encouraging them with a captivating motivator. For example, you could use a reward chart, take part in a reading challenge organised by a local library, buy your child a new book for every 10 books they read, or keep a reading log. The important thing is it works for your family, and provides a genuine incentive.
I hope this helps to give you a few ideas on how you can support your child to flourish as a reader. If you have any top tips of your own then please share them with us in the reply section below.
Love, Heather x