Trying to Get Your Kids to Read More?

We are all aware of the huge advantage we can pass on to our kids if we encourage them and teach them to be avid readers. They are likely to have higher IQs, have more varied vocabularies and wider imaginations, do better in school, and continue reading in later life. So how can we get them reading with minimum resistance?

  • Find stories that relate to their interests. If your child likes football, aeroplanes, action men, animals, dolls, imaginary games or has a specific hobby, find books that are about the things they love doing in real life. Let them choose their own books, whether this involves a trip to the library or to the bookshop (however old fashioned this may seem). If they have a film they really enjoyed, get the book to go along with it and compare the two.
  • Don’t be fussy about what or how they should read. Whether they insist on reading comics, cartoons, cookbooks, or newspapers, poems, short stories and novels, just be glad that whatever they are reading is good for developing their skills and expanding their minds. Similarly, if this means that they love reading on tech devices, like iPads or Kindles, encourage that too.
  • A book allowance. For older children, giving them an allowance or book vouchers that they can choose to spend on reading material, or giving them the option of a magazine subscription can encourage them. There may need to be an element of parental supervision or a few rules to guide them.
  • Play audiobooks. These will develop their imaginations, encourage them to develop a love for stories and build their vocabulary. Have these in the car or on the landing when they are nodding off to sleep. Get them special tape recorders and take them to choose new tapes.
  • Find interactive books. For younger children, the more exciting the book, the better. Get them books with beautiful illustrations, musical buttons, different materials, or ‘scratch and sniff’ history books, to capture their interest.
  • Variety is key. To open their minds to the whole world of reading, make sure that they have a whole variety of things to choose from. The daily choice will seem exciting.
  • Meet the authors. If there is an author they love, find out whether they are doing a local book signing. If so, take your children along and get them special copies to be signed. Meeting the author can be very special for them. Your library may also have events on such as story time, particularly for younger children.
  • Encourage them to write their own. Whether kids like recording what they have done that day in the form of a little diary, writing letters and postcards to their friends, or writing their own stories, anything creative they are doing that tells a story is great. If they have a favourite book or film, encourage them to put on a play, gather an audience and film it for them.
  • Start them young. If you can read to them from the very beginning every evening, or as often as possible, it will seem to them that it is part of their daily routine. Make it a treat, sit together and read in a nice environment, so they have positive and relaxing associations with the activity of reading.
  • Make sure they see you read. Surround them with the idea that reading is part of life. If they see you reading books, magazines, newspapers, poems, they are likely to adopt the habits too. With older children, pass on books you have enjoyed and discuss what they thought of them.
  • Create a reading area. Try letting them sit on special beanbags, wiggle cushions, hammocks, or even small exercise balls while they listen to you read. Create a nice atmosphere with lamps, rugs, or even posters of their favourite books. Give them little accessories, such as clip-on book lamps, bookmarks, and their own custom made name tags for their books.
  • Make it fun! Bearing in mind that reading time often competes with the TV, internet, video games and other modern entertainment, make sure that when you are reading with them they get your full attention, and hear you do all the silly voices and discuss all of the pictures with them, to make it as entertaining as possible.
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