Encouraging your children to read is not teaching them a skill, it is giving them a gift. You’re opening their world to adventure, giving them a place to retreat to on a rainy day and introducing their favourite teacher. There are so many reasons why reading is wonderful for children and for all of us. As a parent the best reason that I can think of to encourage your child to read, is that you get to share it with them. You get to cuddle up and read them a bed time story, you get to introduce them to a book that could help them deal with their emotions and, best of all- you get to do silly voices!
Learning to read can seem so daunting these days, both to children and their parents. When there isn’t phonemes or graphemes to contend with there’s comprehension and inference. However, in amongst all the technical vocab reading still remains exactly the same. Don’t get put off by the tiny details when, as a parent, you can have such a huge impact with some broader brush strokes.
By trying these five easy steps, you will really support your children to connect with reading on a much more personal level. Once they are excited about reading again everything else that ends in ‘aph or ‘eme will seem a lot easier.
Be a reader
This is wonderful place to start. You know all those times you prioritised something over reading a book for your own pleasure? Well now I’m telling you, you have to for the good of your children! That’s right, find some time for you, build up that long forgotten reading habit again.
If you never had one in the first place, it’s time to find the book that’s waiting especially for you to pull you in and get you hopelessly addicted. Talk to friends about what they’re reading, visit reading blogs or bookstagrammers. Find inspiration and visit your local library. Be ruthless, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Find something better.
Putting time into really building up your own love of books is probably the most powerful step on this list. You don’t even need to talk to your children about it. They will notice. They’ll see how you treat books and how you can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next.
This is fun but trust me it’s going to change your life!
Give them space
This is something that I find incredibly hard to do but is also very effective. Giving children the space to make a mistake and reflect on it. If they are stuck with a sound or a word, try not to immediately jump in but give them a minute or two to fill the silence themselves. What you are doing is saying ‘I trust you’. ‘I trust that you know what you’re doing and have a strategy to work out the next word.’
Often this takes a little while to implement. As a teacher with so many children to hear read, I would sometimes feel that I didn’t have the time to allow for this space! I now know that the time taken to get this right is worth so much more than anything I can teach by jumping in and saying it for them.
Giving them this space isn’t meant to put them on the spot or make them feel pressured but just to give them control of the situation. If they want to ask for your help that’s fine. If they look a little panicked try saying, ‘what could you try?’ or ‘what sounds do you recognise?’
I promise, you will be astonished at how many times your children will show you some amazing reading skills.
Use their interests
Don’t get too caught up in the expertise of the class teacher. Remember that you are the expert on your children and teachers know this. If your children are struggling to engage with reading, what do you think might hook them in? Can you use your knowledge to find them some reading materials that they will find irresistible? Use their interests but don’t feel it has to be reading books at their school band level.
Get anything you can that will get them talking about stories or information or reading something e.g. Magazines, fact books, instruction manuals and road signs. Anything that will get their attention and hold their interest. Even talking about the plot of a favourite television show can be great for reading comprehension.
Read to them
Reading to children is really one of life’s great pleasures. If they sit still long enough that is. However, it is very easy to think that you need to stop doing it in favour of them reading to you. This really isn’t the case. Reading to your children is a huge part of their development well into their teen years. There are so many benefits to be had from this regular book sharing. It broadens the books they can access, but it also allows them to focus on the content in a way that they can’t when they are struggling to decode each word themselves.
Not just stories
Sometimes children’s ideas of what a book is can stop them from wanting to get reading. It can be really great to challenge these assumptions. We are so incredibly lucky these days with the diversity of beautiful books available! Reading a book does not have to mean trudging through a dull ‘reading band’ story- it should be source of interest, adventure and knowledge.
A great place to start is by looking at the amazing non-fiction books available for children. They can really capture their attention and allow them to explore some really exciting facts. Even if they can’t read them independently it is still very useful to read to or with them. They could guess words based on the pictures or hunt out sounds and words that they might know within the text.
There you go- 5 extraordinarily simple ideas! But now you know how important they are. Often when something seems simple, you begin to think that you’re not working hard enough or you don’t fully understand how to do it. When it comes to getting children really deeply into reading, the expert is you! Use your knowledge of your children to hook onto their interests and get them irredeemably addicted to reading. Do this knowing that you are giving them a gift that will keep them company throughout their lives.
This Post was brought to you by Tom Russell over at How To Grow A Book Worm. You can find him online and his social media platforms