Encouraging Children to Read
Becoming absorbed in a book is to get lost amonsgt the feelings, adventures and lives of others. What’s more, reading is central when it comes to accessing resources across the curriculum.
In what follows, Mrs Claire Roberts, our Director of Studies, suggests some ways in which we might encourage our children to read. Please do feel you can add any further ideas by commenting at the end of the blog post.
Chris Wright, Head of the Junior School, June 2018
Reading is important. Fact.
It helps with all areas of the curriculum. Fact.
It can even be fun! Fact.
Frustratingly, it is not always the case that our children will voluntarily go to a quiet corner and get lost in a book!
How, in a world of distractions, technology and extra-curricular commitments, do we get our children to read and, more to the point, how can we engender a love of reading?
It seems to me that we must appeal to the interests of this technology-rich generation of boys and girls. The classics are wonderful and great to read but they may not be the starting point for a reluctant reader who would rather be playing with a ball. Get some books about football, adventures, knights, magic, fashion, school-life, ballet or whatever else it might be that might capture their interest until the last page is turned. Some children really love reading the decision-making stories where the story changes depending on which choice is made.
If you are looking for some ideas, then a search on http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/ is a great place to start.
Reading a book alongside one’s child can help, and then discussing the emerging plot together. Of course one could together read the one copy –taking it in turns to read paragraphs, pages or chapters to each other. Alternatively, parent and child can independently read their own copies of the same book. Subsequent discussions about the plot - what might happen next, why did the character act as they did, how might they be feeling – can be great conversations in the themselves, and of course support your child’s reading comprehension.
I have also found it helpful to model the behaviour. If we as parents never sit down with a good book, or even the newspaper or a magazine, for longer than five minutes, we cannot expect our children to want to. Let’s show them how it’s done!
In my experience, the hardest thing is to provide the time for them to do this. If children’s time is scheduled from the minute they get up to bedtime, there is little chance of them thinking about reading, let alone doing it. At the Junior School, we schedule a week every term when homework is suspended and we expect the children to read every night, either independently or with someone else.
Supporting your local library by visiting it on a regular basis is also a great way to foster a love of reading. Apart from a whole host of books, there are often events and theme days which could help make reading less threatening and fun.
Finally, showing a general interest in books can be impactful, talking about them at the dinner table or at bedtimes: giving examples of stories we have enjoyed as children or talk about books we are reading and how exciting they are.
Whilst I hope the above proves useful, please do feel you can comment below with any thoughts or additional ideas.
Mrs Claire Roberts, HCJS Director of Studies, June 2018