5 Tips for Introducing your Child to Readingby Emma Dowey
It's that time of the year again - March - World Book Day. Depending on how far your school take it, you're either a yay or nay. But despite the effort sometimes involved, it's a really great way to inspire children to read more. And we really do need to encourage our kids to pick up great books. According to the National Literacy Trust children spend less time reading than ever before - source. Reading levels are at the lowest they have ever been - with only 25.8% of kids saying they enjoy reading in their spare time. How sad is that? I'd do anything for ten minutes to sit and just read a book. I've always loved reading though, and I guess when I grew up in the 80s, we didn't have iPads, Netflix, a gazillion different channels and Minecraft. Bloody hell, I sound like my Dad reminiscing like that. But back in the day, we really didn't! And I used to read a LOT for fun - The Railway Children, Mallory Towers, The Secret Garden - there were so many wonderful places these books would take me. As I grew into my teens, I loved reading Point Horror and Sweet Valley High books - I still have over 100 of them stored away now! I loved those books so much, and reading was a significant part of my childhood.
So yes, it really saddens me to hear that most kids don't enjoy it. But what can we do? How can we entice them off their tech and into a book? Here are a few tips which I've found help my now seven-year-old embrace reading a little more. He wouldn't be in the quarter of the UK's kids that read in their free time, but hey, we're getting there.
Set an Example
It goes without saying, but if we're on our phones all day, our kids will see that and think it's the norm. I love to read anyway so it's not a big deal here, but I often read while my son is Xboxing. Does it make him drop what he's doing and grab a book? Not at all. But he can see his Mum actively enjoys reading, and it's something people do for fun.
Don't Push It
If your child isn't "into" books, try not to stress too much. As parents, we put so much pressure on ourselves for them to do everything the minute they're out of the womb. But all kids develop and hone their skills at different times. Be patient. It's definitely not a race to read and enjoy reading.
Variety is the Spice
It really is. My son isn't overly fussed with long, fiction books at the moment. But he does enjoy a comic or a magazine. Remember that reading doesn't need to involve ploughing through 100 pages of text. It could be reading a recipe, sounding out signs at the park, or reading the supermarket labels.
Make it Fun
I remember when my son started reception and was introduced to phonics. He wasn't at all interested. But writing those phonics out on paper and sticking them around the kitchen to make a game worked. It did involve him standing behind the line and catapulting his underpants at said phonics. But it was fun, he shouted out the phonic that his pants landed on!
Maybe for older kids, but we recently "Adopted a Tiger". We pay a small amount each month and get sent updates on our tiger and information about where our pennies are spent. The cynic in me says the CEO's pocket but you know what, my son is engaged. He's obsessed with tigers and he actively wants to read the magazine they send.
Do you have a reluctant reader? I grew up absolutely loving books. I want nothing more for my kids to experience the pleasure that a good story can bring.