It is hugely beneficial for children to get in the habit of reading but sometimes its easier said than done. So just how do you actually get them to do this, especially if they are resistant or have leaning difficulties? We have put together our top ideas on how toget your child interested in reading.
Create a fun habit
The first one, which we did discuss in our previous blog Why Your Children Should Read For Fun, is simply by starting to read aloud to them as early as possible. Create the habit of reading and it will be something they will hopefully learn to do for themselves. Building it into your bedtime routine is the easiest way to do this but if there is another time in the day that your child likes to sit and listen to you, then this is fine too.
If your child enjoys being to read aloud but you just can’t seem to engage them in reading themselves, try to interest them with the pictures instead. Ask them to describe the pictures and tell you what’s going on. This will be be great for the creative parts of their brain and eventually the words will become less scary as the great thing about children books is that whole pages are often covered in pictures that incorporate the words. Just getting your child to hold a book or point to different parts, while you make up a story together, will intrigue them enough to want to start reading the words too.
Once they are old enough, set goals for them to achieve. A good example of this is to encourage them to read a chapter by themselves and ask them to underline anything they don’t understand, which you can then discuss together. My daughter loved doing this as it gave her independence to read books without being overwhelmed and reduced any sense of failure from lack of understanding. Reward comes from the sense of achievement the child gets from reading by themselves.
Capture thier interests
Select books they are interested in. If all they will read is Captain Underpants, my son’s favourite for many years, then at least they are reading. It may be not traditionally intellectually stretching but it will still be developing the pathways in their brains and widening their knowledge base. If they like non-fiction, sign up to First News. This is a newspaper for children aged 7 to 14-year-olds that aims to engaged children in the news in an easy and non-threatening way. The weekly paper covers topics which are relevant to children through a mixture of world/UK news, and loads of fun sections, such as entertainment, games, animals, sport and puzzles. Perhaps your children have a beloved hobby they are particularly passionate about. So why not find them non-fiction books which inform them about their passion or autobiographies about their idols.
Remove the Pressure
If you really can’t get your child to pick up a book for themselves take them into an environment where they can experience books in a non-pressured way. Pop into the local library or children’s section of a bookshop and let them explore and play. You don’t even need to ask them to pick a book as this might make them feel under pressured or stressed. Bookshops often have a fun area to entice kids to look at the books. Let them pick up the different types of books and see all the fun covers. They may even sit down and start to look through the books and just perhaps they will find one so exciting that they will want to take it home. This is a really powerful way to encourage your child to read as they are taking ownership of the activity and when they pick a book it will be from their own freewill.
Make books a treat
Make books a treat. Elton John takes his children to a bookshop to choose a new book every week. Going to a bookshop or library can be fun family outing everyone can look forward to and they get a book that will entertain them and benefit them. Of course, don’t forget to pick up the latest new book for yourself while you are there!
Start with Audiobooks
Audiobooks are particularly good way to get children to ‘read’. You can buy them on CDs, download them and even get them in many formats from your local library (a good way to keep the cost down). Put them on during your car journey instead of the radio or let them listen to one before they go to sleep. Don’t be fooled by remarks made by some people that listening to a book cannot have nearly the same benefits as reading, this simply is not true. There have been research studies, even before the explosion of technology, that prove that reading and listening require and induce nearly the same cognitive processes. In1985 a study proved that listening comprehension was very similar to reading comprehension. In other words those who listened to books would develop the skills necessary to read competently too. There has been other research over the years to support this.
Use other activities except books
And finally if you really can’t get your child to engage, try activities that include little bits of reading, so they do it without knowing it. Scholastic have put together a great list of how to this, 10 Non-Book Ways to Get Your Child Reading (https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/reading-resources/10-non-book-ways-to-get-your-child-reading.html). Our personal favourite way to do this to get cooking. If you haven’t got a multitude of cookery books on your shelves you could always seek out one aimed at children; there are loads out there! Get them to look through the book and choose their favourite recipe whilst helping them make a list of all the things needed. Then get them to read out the recipe while they are helping you make it.
Comment below any tricks and tips you have.