How to Encourage Children to Read
A child who enjoys reading is something pretty much all parents hope for in their children. It can be a challenge to nurture a love for reading in a child; however, it is integral, especially in the modern business world where most of our communication is through some kind of message on a device. As well as this, reading for pleasure comes with other benefits for children in terms of education. Studies have shown that students who read for pleasure not only do better in their vocabulary and spelling, but also in maths.
So how can you encourage your child to read? As a working member of the education sector, as well as a writer, and after some research, I feel the following tips may be useful.
Develop Oral Language
Developing the oral language of a child can be encouraged from as early as when they start babbling by simply reading to them. As they get older, depending on the child’s skill, have them read with you or read a book to them. Throughout the story, ask them questions in regards to what is happening, their favourite parts, characters and what they think of them. A very interesting question to ask is, “Who is good? Who is bad? And why?” because this will give you an insight into a child’s moral thinking and reasoning, which can be amusing, endearing, and very interesting. It is always a good idea to discuss the story as a whole once it’s finished as this encourages children to be able to summarise things that have happened, as well as giving them a chance to think critically and voice their opinion.
Read to Children Regularly
Exposing children to words and books by reading to them at a young age causes books to become part of their everyday life simply because of that exposure. A child will learn through what you read to them, helping them develop an understanding of the world around them in terms of information, concepts, and phonemic awareness. As they grow older and learn to read themselves, the world around them will come together in a wonderful way as things will start to make sense. Reading to your child really empowers them to access the world around them and the education system available to them.
Encourage Reading Activities
Creating a book corner in your child’s bedroom, for example, can be a great way to provoke a reading habit in your child, especially if it is an area that feels safe and cosy. Also making sure that your child always has something to read and suggesting that they read in their spare time would encourage them to develop the habit. It is understood that children who are provided with a wide range of reading materials score higher on standardised tests and are able to access higher levels of education. With this in mind, encouraging reading activities is another element to surrounding your child with reading materials, by simply pointing words out to them and asking what sounds the letters make and what the words say. This can include things like asking them to read labels, signs, movie names and any part of practical information that you yourself use to navigate throughout the activities in your daily life.
We all know that technology has pretty much become part of our DNA, therefore introducing it into your child’s reading time is not only beneficial, because they will learn to read, but also because they will learn how to use things that will benefit them in their educational and adult life. Introducing technology into children’s lives on an educational level (in the classroom and at home) has been known to increase self-esteem and confidence in a child. E-readers can be beneficial for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and the font and brightness can be adjusted for children who have issues with sight and sensory overload. There are also apps available to download on phones and tablets which are based around encouraging children to read.
Guide and Empower
Reading for pleasure, rather than because they have to, is one of the best ways to increase a child’s reading ability as well as their love for reading. Children who are able to choose what they read—whether it’s a book, poetry, comic book, or a magazine—are those who are much more engaged with what they read as well as more likely to become lifelong readers.
Children need adults to help them choose age appropriate books and for them to continue to ask questions regarding what they’re reading. Reading with children shows them that reading is part of everyday life and will hopefully really grow the habit, as well as the other skills that come with reading.
© 2019 Kirsty Louise Farley
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Kirsty-Louise is a published author and poet with a BA hons in English Literature. Working as a Secondary English Teacher, dog walks on the coast, and reading books pass her time in Ramsgate & Margate.