How to encourage your child to read more
Ahead of World Book Day (4th March), we’ve researched the nation’s favourite school books and found that George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol are the UK’s most popular reads.
For many people, reading is a wonderful and enriching experience that brings a huge sense of reward and enjoyment. This is especially true in children, as reading can transport them to fantasy worlds and unlock their creativity and imagination. Importantly, it can also help to improve the mental health of both children and adults.
However, it can sometimes be challenging for parents to encourage their child to read, especially when faced with competition from technology, such as smartphones and video games. That’s why we’ve provided 10 expert tips to help you encourage your child to read more.
- Start early – Introducing a child to books and reading from an early age is vital for lighting that spark of enjoyment. Trying to introduce books to an older child who doesn’t have an existing interest in reading will always be much more challenging. Start with simple, age-appropriate books and dedicate time to reading together to help build that enjoyment as early as possible.
- Make it family time – There may come a stage where your child is ready to read more advanced books but lacks the reading fluency or confidence to read them by themselves. So why not put aside some time to read with them? Choose a story that will interest you both and read it together. You could take turns reading chapters or pages, give them a specific character to read, or allow them to read and help them with any words they may struggle with.
- Stimulate their imagination – A great way to help children engage with reading is to bring the world they’re reading about to life. You could help them find out more about the time period they’re reading about, or about the author, or about any real-life characters that are included. All of this will increase engagement.
- Plan book-themed day trips – Similarly, taking your child on book-themed day trips will really help to stimulate their imagination. This can range from visiting a huge attraction like Warner Brothers Studios for Harry Potter fans, or wandering around Oxford for children reading His Dark Materials.
- Make use of films – Films are a great way to pique a child’s interest in a story and can be used to increase interest both before and after reading the book. If your child has recently enjoyed a film or TV show based on a book, that can be a great incentive to encourage them to read the original story. They will have some knowledge of the plot, which may help with understanding and allow them to tackle more advanced books. Similarly, if your child is exciting for an upcoming film, you can encourage them to read the book before it is released.
- Think about their interests – When choosing a book for your child, it’s important that you keep their interests in mind to ensure that they will enjoy the subject of the book. Your child is far more likely to stay engaged, particularly when reading independently, if the book is from a genre they like, or involves subject matter linked to their hobbies or interests.
- They don’t have to read – This may sound contradictory, but you can encourage your child to get all the benefits of reading without picking up a book. Audiobooks are widely available and are a great way of helping children to get immersed in a story, without asking them to sit still and read. This works particularly well for children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, or children who struggle with reading. It’s also a good way to encourage your child to ‘read’ whilst travelling, without risking travel sickness. Furthermore, it still carries many of the same benefits as physically reading a book, such as inspiring creativity and stimulating the imagination.
- Make use of technology – Uploading books onto an iPad or investing in a Kindle may help to attract the interest of children who are perhaps a little sceptical about picking up a physical book. You can also download audiobooks to a phone or music player, so your child is always able to listen to the audiobook when they’re out and about.
- Set an example – It’s important that you as parents set an example when encouraging your child to read. If you’re asking your child to read by themselves upstairs whilst you watch TV, then you will be faced with far greater resistance than if you decide to read together as a family. Make sure you put aside time to disconnect from technology and read together, whether you’re all reading the same book, or reading independently.
- Surround them with books – Making sure your child has easy access to books will increase the chance of them developing a love for reading, so try taking them on trips to your local library or book shop, or keeping your shelves stocked with books at home.
Your child may spot other books they would like to read, perhaps similar to what they’ve enjoyed before, or something completely new.
For more advice on how reading can be good for your child’s welfare, visit:
Reading For Your Wellbeing
5 Reasons You Should Spend More Time Reading