Eight ways to help your child love books
One of the best compliments I get is when someone tells me ‘My son/niece/grandchild isn’t a reader, but I gave him/her your book and they couldn’t put it down. They want to know when the next one is coming out.’ I absolutely love hearing stories like this! Reading a good book is my favourite thing to do. I love knowing that I can play a part in helping others find the pleasure that can be found in bringing words on a page to life.
There are many reluctant readers out there! Some children need little or no encouragement to read, but others have no interest. They would rather be more active, which is important too – all children need to play outside in the fresh air for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I’m asked what I’d recommend to encourage a child to read. I’ve compiled a list of ideas for parents who would like their children to read more and develop a love for books.
- Introduce books from a young age. Read to babies, and surround them with books. Bedtime stories are a great idea, even when your children are old enough to read for themselves, but don’t just limit books to bedtime!
- Visit the library. A fresh supply of new books every few weeks, totally free of charge – what’s not to love?! Make it a special outing.
- Buy books for gifts and rewards. Maybe take them to a bookshop and let them choose. Books really are a treat!
- Limit screen time. There’s something about a screen that is very compelling to both young and old. Watching something on a screen doesn’t take much effort. Instead, a book requires engagement and will help develop reading skills, and increase creativity as the child (or adult) visualises the scenes in their own imagination.
- Give books appropriate to the child’s interest. There’s no point in giving an animal-loving child a detailed factual book about the solar system. Instead, there are loads of really great animal stories out there for all levels.
- Try to match the length of book and size of font with their reading level – a long book with small font will only discourage reluctant readers. A shorter book will be easier to complete. This will give the child a sense of satisfaction and the impetus to read another book, maybe a longer one next time. Even a comic book will get some children reading, and that’s the goal, isn’t it?
- Don’t give the impression that reading books for school is boring, hard work. If the child is struggling with a book they’ve been given, maybe speak to their teacher to see if they can find a different one that captures their interest. Homework doesn’t always have to be an uphill struggle!
- Make sure there are no underlying problems that are discouraging the child from reading. Children should have regular sight tests at their opticians, at least yearly. Undetected dyslexia can also make reading difficult for some children. There are now various ways to help children with dyslexia – it’s worth looking into what’s available.
I’d be really interested to hear any other tips and ideas you might have, or stories of how you encouraged your children to read. I’d love it if you shared those in the comments below.
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